Apple is prepping a pint-sized tablet called the iPad Mini.
That's the news today from the Wall Street Journal, which reports (the link is password protected) that an Apple tablet with a 7.85-inch screen has already entered mass production. LG Display and AU Optronics will build the screen on the iPad Mini, according to new unnamed sources in the Apple chain; the device, meanwhile, could be unveiled as soon as this month, putting Apple in optimal position for the holiday shopping season.
Apple has not commented on the rumors. And it's worth noting that we've been hearing iPad Mini scuttlebutt for a long time now, with little to show for it. Still, it makes sense that Apple would want to build a smaller, 7.85-inch tablet. (The full-size iPad measures 9.7 inches.) The 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire has sold well in recent months, as has Google's Nexus 7 tablet. Apple is unlikely to leave the budget-end of the tablet market to its competitors for too long.
In fact, over at Fortune, Philip Elmer-DeWitt says Apple has already scheduled an unveiling event for the iPad Mini. According to Fortune, invitations will go out on Oct. 10, just a few days away. "If Apple follows its usual scheduling protocol," Elmer-DeWitt writes, "that would suggest a special event to unveil the product on Wednesday, Oct. 17, with a launch day of Friday Nov. 2."
So what will this new iPad look like? Well, as Eric Zeman of InformationWeek points out, the Retina Display is probably out. But if these leaked photos are any indication, the Mini will probably get the same style chassis as the larger iPad – expect also a curved, black back, and the familiar square lines of its predecessor.