On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources working for Asian suppliers, reported that Apple is working with those suppliers to build prototypes of an 8-inch iPad.
"One person said the smaller device will have a similar resolution screen as the iPad 2," the Journal said. "Apple is working with screen makers including Taiwan-based AU Optronics Co. and LG Display Co. of South Korea to supply the test panels, the person said."
As of now, Apple is looking to just test a smaller-form iPad and "could opt not to proceed with the device," the report said. Apple officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday, but the company does have a policy of not commenting on rumors and speculation.
The Journal's report follows Technology Business Research analyst Ezra Gottheil's declaration last week that he expects Apple to releast a 7-inch iPad this year.
Rumors of smaller iPads, particularly in a 7-inch size, have been circulating for months but they've largely been dismissed as speculation and not something Apple would ever actually do.
While analysts and journalists have offered many reasons that such a move is unlikely, the one cited most often is the late Steve Jobs' stated belief that a 7-inch screen "is too small to express the software."
Apple's first-generation iPad and the iPad 2 both have 9.7-inch displays, with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution. The iPad 3, which is expected to be unveiled by Apple as early as March 7, is rumored to have a "retina display" with nearly double the resolution of the first two.
While conjecture about a smaller iPad has long been brewing, the Journal confirmed one rumor Tuesday that nearly everyone seems to have agreed upon for months -- that the iPad 3 will ship in 4G LTE variants for both Verizon and AT&T's networks.
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