Taiwanese news outlet, Digitimes, claims that production of a smaller 7.85-inch iPad has already begun, and that Apple partners in the supply chain have been delivering samples of the mini tabletfor verification.
Volume production is likely to start in the third quarter of 2012, according to the report, which also states that the device will go head to head with the popular 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire.
Prices will reportedly range from $249 to $299 (£157-£188), making it $100 cheaper than the current iPad 2 and the upcoming iPad 3, which is expected to cost roughly the same as its predecessor despite packing a faster processor and a “Retina Display” touchscreen.
The potential launch of a smaller iPad has also been highlighted in a Samsung Securities document, which mentions that Apple will release “a new 7-inch product temporarily referred to as the iPad mini” in the third quarter of 2012 (late summer/early autumn).
If true, the plans would represent a major u-turn for Apple, with co-founder and former chairman and CEO Steve Jobs once famously describing 7-inch tablet PCs as of a size that “isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps” and requires users to “sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size”.