Various rumors and speculation have suggested that Apple had a smaller version of its successful full-size iPad on the drawing board, and now it looks like it isn’t just idle talk. The Wall Street Journal reports that mass production of an iPad Mini has been going on since last month at South Korea’s LG Display Co. and Taiwan’s AU Optronics Corp.
The smaller tablet will have a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display with a lower resolution than the latest iPad, which was released in March, two of the people said. The screen on the current iPad measures 9.7 inches diagonally, a size that hasn’t changed since the first model was released in 2010.
If the Journal‘s sources are accurate, the mini version will not have the Retina display. Many other analysts, according to a CBS News report, are fairly confident that there will be a front and rear camera, have LTE support, and run iOS 6. Price points are being estimated at between $249 and $299 to bring it in line with the prices of the Google Nexus and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, as well as the Nook Tablet.
Apple will probably announce the iPad Mini sometime this month, says Fortune, based on a “major Apple investor” and mysterious others. Again, if these sources are correct, an Apple “big event” is scheduled for October 17.
While the current iPad pretty much owns the full-size tablet market, the area of greatest competition is now from the smaller tablet formats from both Google and Amazon, so healthy competition will be good for consumers who are still considering what to buy and at what price point. And of course, with the Holiday shopping season coming up, the rumored timeline makes sense. Announced in October, one might expect a launch day as early as November (Nov. 2, to be precise, as predicted in the Fortune report).