Mini-iPad coming this fall?

Rumors of a mythological miniature Apple tablet--smaller than the iPad but larger than the iPhone--have been circulating on the Internet for a while now, but if two new reports in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are to be believed, the myth will become a reality by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported that a smaller Apple tablet may be on the market by the year’s end.

The Wall Street Journal reports that component suppliers in Asia said that Apple told them to prepare for mass production of the smaller tablet, which will be smaller than 8 inches.

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(To help you visualize that, consider that the current iPad has a 9.7-inch screen and the iPhone 3GS has a 3.5-inch screen).

Bloomberg got a bit more specific, reporting that Apple may announce the new product in October, and that the smaller tablet will not have a high-resolution Retina display like the latest version of the iPad.

Analysts say a smaller and cheaper tablet from Apple would help the company better compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s newly introduced Nexus 7. Both have 7-inch screens and are priced at about $200.

But before you get too excited about Apple’s mini-tablet, keep in mind that we’ve heard similar reports before.

Back in January of this year rumors on the Internet claimed that the third-generation iPad would be offered in two screen sizes, with the current 9.7-inch being complemented by a smaller model. A few different screen sizes were rumored to be possibilities, but the persistent rumor said that 7 inches would be the most likely choice.

As my former colleague Nathan Olivarez-Giles wrote at the time, “This is an idea that has also been shot down by a number of analysts and tech pundits and the late Steve Jobs shot down the idea of a 7-inch iPad as well, stating that, at that size, “the screen is too small to express the software.”

In other words, you may want to see it before you believe it.



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