Protoypes of a new iPad with a smaller screen have been delivered to Apple, and volume production of the devices could begin as early as the third quarter of this year.
According to a DigiTimes report citing unnamed industry sources, the device will feature a 7.85-inch display. In comparison, the iPad 2 comes with a 9.7-inch screen.
The scaled-down tablet is currently being assembled by Apple’s manufacturing partners, DigiTimes reported. It is likely to be priced between $249 and $299 to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which sells for $199, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet.
Rumors of a smaller iPad first surfaced months ago. Back in December, there were reportsthat Apple had purchased 7.85-inch panels from LG Display and AU Optronics. Then last month, the Wall Street Journal claimed to have a source who confirmed that Apple was testing the new, smaller screen line of tablets. The late Steve Jobs is, however, well-known for his statements deriding the notion of a smaller tablet.
The news of Apple’s progress on a smaller iPad comes as Cupertino is thought to be gearing up to announce the iPad 3 at its invitation-only event on March 7. Among the pervasive rumors about the third-generation tablet are that it will feature an ultra-high resolution "retina" display, 4G LTE connectivity, better cameras, a thinner form factor, and new ARM chipsets, possibly Apple's first quad-core System-on-a-Chip to power an iOS-based device.
Apple is also believed to be prepping an 8GB iPad 2, which it may also announce next week, DigiTimes reported. That model is expected to cost between $349 and $399.