Excitement for the iPad 3 is reaching fever pitch as Apple's March 7th event draws ever nearer. But Apple's hedging its bets, with plans for a smaller, cheaper iPad to enter production later in the year in a bid to take on the 7in Kindle Fire.
According to Digitimes' sources in the supply chain, samples of 7.85in iPads are already in circulation, and production is set to start in autumn 2012 at the earliest.
The mini-iPad 3 is likely to be priced at US$250-US$300, based on rumours that Apple is set to launch an 8GB iPad 2 priced at US$350-US$400 alongside the iPad 3.
The supply source also said the iPad 3 will launch in 16GB and 32GB versions, packing a 9.7in Full HD QXGA display with a 2048x1536 resolution.
We're taking the storage claims with a truckload of salt – surely there's going to be a 64GB version? – but maybe cramming in the backlighting for the iPad 3 screen and its 4G connectivity hardware has forced Apple to make some sacrifices beyond the rumoured size boost. It could also point to Apple trying to wean iPad users off flash memory and onto the iCloud.