There are a lot of rumours about a smaller iPad, commonly referred to as the iPad mini. As of now, there is no official word about this tablet by Apple but there are various reports surrounding its launch in the near future. There have even been case manufacturers designing cases for this yet unannounced product. A new report by CNET states that Apple will start the panel production of the tablet by as early as this month.

Samsung claims an iPad Mini coming this year

Production of panels to begin by the end of the month

According to the report by CNET, the tech website contacted NPD DisplaySearch analyst Paul Semenza. He states, “We expect panel production to start in August, with production ramping up to high volumes (more than a million units per month) in the fourth quarter.” The report goes on to state, “Semenza said this is DisplaySearch's “understanding of the activity for the 7.85 [inch] panel expected to be used in the iPad Mini. If this production schedule plays out, it could indicate a late 2012 launch.”

If this report is true, then we could see the tablet launched before the year ends. This report falls in line with another report that surfaced a few days ago, which indicated that Apple would host a special event for the iPad mini.

A few days ago, news started doing the rounds that the iPad mini will launch at the same time as the next iPhone. However, Apple would likely keep the spotlight fixed on the next iPhone aka the iPhone 5 as it would be nearly a year since it launched the iPhone 4S and are now facing increased competition from the likes of Samsung.

Samsung has successfully launched the Galaxy S III and has recorded the sale of over 10 million units. The brand also intends to unveil the Galaxy Note 2, a successor to the Galaxy Note by the end of August. This would certainly put pressure on Apple as it usually launch just a single smartphone in a calendar year. Samsung has a whole line up of devices that aim to compete with the iPhone and if Apple does launch the iPad mini at the same time, it will take some of the shine off the iPhone 5, which it definitely does need.

The iPad mini is expected to feature a display of 7.85 inches and will compete directly against the Google Nexus 7, the 7-inch flagship Google tablet, which is doing really well in the market. This smaller iPad is also expected to feature a smaller dock connector and a microphone at the back. The microphone on the rear will assist the device in noise cancellation during video calls that can be done using Apple’s FaceTime or through Skype.

Let us know your thoughts on the possibility of Apple launching a smaller iPad in the near future.

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