Apple Working with Suppliers on 8-Inch iPad
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is working with suppliers on a smaller iPad carrying a display in the range of 8 inches on the diagonal, down from the 9.7-inch display in the current iPad but still larger than the 7-inch display found in the Kindle Fire.
Officials at some of Apple's suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has shown them screen designs for a new device with a screen size of around 8-inches, and said it is qualifying suppliers for it. Apple's latest tablet, the iPad 2, comes with a 9.7-inch screen. It was launched late last year.
One person said the smaller device will have a similar resolution screen as the iPad 2. Apple is working with screen makers including Taiwan-based AU Optronics Co. and LG Display Co. of South Korea to supply the test panels, the person said.
The report does caution, however, that Apple is continually testing new designs with its suppliers and could ultimately decide not to bring the smaller iPad to market.
According to the report, Apple has played with various tablet sizes in the past, but has so far stuck with a single form factor with a 9.7-inch display, a size Steve Jobs argued was the minimum to meet Apple's standards for usability.
An "iPad mini" has been rumored for quite some time, with reportedly having tested a variety of different screen sizes. A number of the rumors have pinpointed a 7.85-inch iPad that could be released late this year.
Mockup of 7.85" iPad on left, 9.7" (current) iPad on right
Back in December, we published mockups and "actual size" PDFs demonstrating how the device would appear and fit in the hand at that size. Our printable PDFs included home screen (6 MB) and keyboard (18 MB) views, and we also included an actual size image for viewing on a current iPad.
Squeezing the current iPad's resolution down to a smaller screen would also reduce the size of the interface elements on the device, and Apple is indeed said to be planning to move the current iPad's 1024x768 resolution to the smaller iPad in a move that would allow current iPad apps to "just work" on the new device. Testing with our "iPad mini" mockup suggests that interface elements would remain usable even at the smaller size.