Is Apple Testing An 8in iPad?

Apple is set to launch its third version of the iPad in only a couple of weeks time, but a report today suggests the Cupertino-based company is toying with the idea of bringing out a smaller tablet.

The first two iPads both had identical 9.7in screens. From leaked images of the rear casing of the next iPad, the third iteration – be that the iPad 2S or the iPad 3 – will be similarly sized. However, looking beyond this, Apple could be thinking that smaller is better as it is reportedly showing off designs for an 8in iPad to suppliers.

This news comes from anonymous officials at some of Apple’s suppliers who spoke to the Wall Street Journal who said that Apple is showing off designs for a tablet with a screen of “around 8in” and that Apple is “qualifying suppliers for it.”

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The sources also revealed that the smaller screen would have a similar resolution (1,024×768) to the current iPad. Apple is working with screen makers including LG to supply the test panels the sources said.

Of course Apple may never bring the 8in iPad to market and is probably working on a variety of screen sizes. However it is interesting that the company is actively looking at this size considering the 7in Amazon Kindle Fire launched successfully in the US before Christmas. Interestingly, reports last week suggested that Amazon is toying with the idea of launching a larger 9in Kindle Fire putting it in even more direct competition with Apple.

While Tim Cook described the Kindle Fire and all other similar devices as “limited-function tablets” Apple will want to maintain its dominant position in the market and diversifying the screen size of the iPad is one way of ensuring this.

The next iPad is set to launch on 7 March in San Francisco with a 9.7in screen of almost Retina-like pixel density, a slight update to the camera and battery and support for a 4G network. More evolution than revolution then.

Would a smaller iPad entice you to purchase a tablet? Or do you, like Steve Jobs said, believe that 9.7in is “the minimum size required to create great tablet apps”?

Source: Wall Street Journal

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