Taiwan’s United Daily News reports that Apple has received samples of 7.85-inch screens carrying the same 1024×768 resolution of the current iPad. The report (via Unwired View) claims that AU Optronics and LG DIsplay have sent samples of the display to Apple, which is reportedly targeting a launch for the “iPad mini” early next year.
It is unclear how Apple and its developers would handle a considerably smaller screen for this iPad mini at the same resolution as the current iPad. While maintaining the current resolution would mean that iPad apps would display natively on the iPad mini, the interface elements would be somewhat smaller than on the iPad, a reduction that could introduce usability issues in some cases.
Steve Jobs had also famously panned 7-inch tablets from competitors, claiming that roughly 10 inches was the minimum screen size needed for a useful tablet.
Apple has been said to be interesting in fending of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet, which is launching next month at a $199 price point. Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White had noted just last week that his research among Asian suppliers is indeed pointing toward Apple releasing an “iPad mini” early next year to take on the Kindle Fire. White cautioned, however, that the “mini” moniker was in reference to the device’s price rather than necessarily meaning a smaller device.
Regarding Apple, our research is pointing to the unveiling of a lower priced iPad in the first few months of 2012 that is aimed at expanding the company’s market potential by tapping into a more price sensitive consumer segment. Essentially, this “iPad mini” will also fend off the recently announced Amazon Kindle Fire that addresses the low-end tablet market with a $199 price tag but could lead to bigger tablet ambitions from the online retailer in the future. The “mini” refers to a reduced price point of this iPad and not necessarily the size of the device. We believe this lower priced iPad could be priced in the mid-to-high-$200 range.
Apple is widely rumored to be preparing to introduce the iPad 3 early next year, a device which is said to carry a Retina display with 2048×1536 resolution. A smaller iPad at the lower resolution of the current iPad could enable Apple to lower entry-level price points for its tablet products if it does indeed view Amazon as a significant threat.