By Alexandra Burlacu | Oct 05, 2012 12:16 PM EDT
Rumors of an iPad Mini have intensified recently, and new reports indicate that manufacturers in China have already begun production, which suggests that an imminent debut is just weeks away.
The iPad Mini is expected to sport a 7.8-inch display and a more affordable price tag, thus allowing Apple to appeal to a wider audience. A smaller iPad would also step up competition between the Cupertino giant and budget Android-based devices slated from Google and Amazon.
Potential Supply Issues
The iPad Mini, however, may hit the market with limited units. The iPhone 5 currently has a shipping delay of three to four weeks, and Apple is expected to face the same supply issues with the iPad Mini. According to a Digitimes report, AU Optronics, one of the two panel supplier for the smaller iPad, has shipped fewer screens than expected due to low yield rates.
While production is expected to pick up in the fourth quarter, concerns still linger that other component suppliers may not meet Apple's target of 9 to 10 million units. This issue is also likely to be intensified by the lower price tag. The regular-sized iPad comes in at $499, but the smaller version will reportedly cost between $249 and $299.
No Retina Display
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, Oct. 3, that Asian suppliers have already started assembling a new, smaller iPad for Apple. Unnamed executives from component suppliers reportedly said that production is under way, which indicates the iPad Mini should pop up in a few weeks.
The most surprising news from the Journal's report, however, is that the iPad Mini will not sport Apple's highly-touted Retina Display. Instead, the smaller model will use the same liquid crystal display, but with a lower resolution not worthy of the "Retina" moniker.
The iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 all have screens with resolutions higher than 320 pixels per inch (ppi), which is dense enough to deliver razor-sharp images and text that appears as though it was printed on paper. Apple touted the performance as a "resolutionary" Retina display, and brought the same technology to its third-generation iPad launched earlier this year. The new iPad's display has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels at 264 ppi - lower than the resolution of the iPhones, but still higher than the resolution on most, if not all, competing devices.
The WSJ did not mention what resolution the iPad Mini will have, but Apple is expected to pack a resolution similar to its other non-Retina devices. A resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels, for instance, would be a competitive resolution for a 7.68-inch display, even if Apple can't tout it as a Retina display. The first- and second-generation iPads share the same 1024 x 768 resolution.
When Will It Debut?
Apple is expected to distribute invitations to the iPad Mini's unveiling as soon as Oct. 10. The event itself might take place on Oct. 17, with an availability date likely pegged for on or around Nov. 2, just in time for the lucrative holiday shopping season.
This information comes from CNN's Fortune, as tipped by "a major Apple investor." The source, in turn, reportedly heard the news from "multiple sources."
Apple has offered no comment on the rumors and speculation regarding a smaller version of its popular iPad. On the other hand, Apple has never spoken publicly about its future tablet plans. Nothing is official just yet, but if the reports prove to be true Apple should bust all iPad Mini myths soon enough.
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