Here's an exciting news for all those eagerly waiting for any updates on Apple's next-gen 9.7-inch iPad – it may come with the same touchscreen structure as iPad mini. Digitimes reports that the G/F2 (DITO) thin-film type touchscreen structure on iPad mini will help the next-gen tablet achieve a thinner and lighter appeal. For those not in the know. the current iPad models use a G/G touchscreen structure. Interestingly, sources informed Digitimes that this move by the Cupertino giant is to improve competition in the tablet segment. Further, according to sources, the next-gen iPad's supply chain “will be similar to the iPad mini's, with Japan-based Nitto expected to supply thin-film materials and Nissha Printing touch screen modules.”

TPK, a Taiwan-based company, will be looking after the tablet's lamination, while LG Display (LGD) and Sharp will be responsible for the panels, the sources informed further. 

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Will it get thinner and lighter?

As with almost all Apple products, the next-gen iPad too garnered its fair share of buzz. Last month, alleged first images of Apple's next-generation iPad came out. 9to5Mac published several images of the rear of a 9.7-inch tablet with a dubious-looking, smudged iPad logo and branding. If this is the real deal, the new tablet will take a lot of cues from the design approach the Cupertino giant used with the iPad mini.

The images, which the website claims to have received from an accessories manufacturer in China, might confirm a December rumour that stated a 5th-generation iPad that looks like the mini’s big brother is set to debut in March of 2013. However, more recent reports state that an October release is more likely. The pictures show the next-gen iPad beside the current iPad mini, and the similarities are very apparent. 

The Apple-dedicated site also revealed some more details about the dimensions and design of the new iPad. “We were told this is a prototype back piece for the fifth-generation iPad with a 9.7-inch display. We were also told that the casing is almost as thin as the iPad mini’s back (pictured to the right). As you can see at the top of the purported iPad 5 backplate, this casing would likely be for an LTE model – as the black antenna cut implies,” the website says.

The Chinese accessories manufacturer sent several images to 9to5Mac, so if this is a hoax, it’s a rather elaborate one. The pictures queued up well with a previous leak, which also claimed that the design of the iPad was about to get a change. The new iPad is said to employ a new screen technology called IGZO, which helps bring down the waistline of the device.

There is a touch of irony in the number of iPad leaks of late, considering Apple ramped up efforts last year to keep images and details of its unreleased products tightly sealed. Recent rumours indicated that Apple might soon be adding a 128GB iPad to its current line, and recently, an SKU listing seemingly confirmed the existence of a 128GB iPad that was touted to be part of the current fourth-generation lineup. It will come in black or white colours, in 3G + Wi-Fi as well as just Wi-Fi. If this is true, we could have two new iPads to choose from.

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