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Reports claim Apple planning 7.86 inch iPad Mini for Q3 2012

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It hasn't been long since the release of the new iPad and already we're hearing talks of an iPad Mini.  Now, to be fair, rumors of Apple working on a smaller, cheaper iPad were being talked about long before the release of the iPad 3, but only recently have speculation about a smaller iPad begun to heat up.

The latest report comes from Chinese portal NetEase which claims Apple is planning to produce 6 million "smaller" iPads for sale some time in the third quarter of 2012.  The NetEase report is based on "Taiwan media reports" and is said to be based on orders that Apple is placing to factories in the region, notably Foxconn and Pegatron.

The report goes on to claims the iPad mini will cost anywhere from $249 to $299.  If true, the new device could help Apple establish a foothold in the smaller tablet market, competing against the likes of Microsoft's Windows 8 or the Amazon's Kindle Fire.

These rumors come after The Korea Times reported last month that Samsung was supplying Apple with "new PLS-based LCD technology for smaller iPads."  A Samsung official also said the smaller iPad will "probably" be released with a 7.86-inch screen.  The current iPad has a 9.7-inch screen.

There is reason to remain skeptical, however.  First off, rumors of a smaller iPad have been circulating around the industry since early 2010.  Secondly, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was always against the idea of a 7-inch tablet.  He believed the "tweeners" would be too big to compete with smartphones, but too small for the current iPads.  Jobs even went on to say a 7-inch tablet would be "dead on arrival."

Would a smaller iPad work?  I know I would likely settle for a slightly smaller screen if it meant a more affordable iPad.  To me, $300 is a little more reasonable than half a grand.  And from a business standpoint, I don't see Apple sitting around as other companies rule  the smaller tablet market unchallenged.

[Kotaku, Mashable]

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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