Oct. 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM ET
There's no official confirmation that a smaller version of the iPad is actually on its way, but the rumors are heating up as we get closer to the gadget's expected announcement date. According to a report, production on the unannounced tablet has even already started.
The Wall Street Journal's Lorraine Luk writes that "people with knowledge of the situation" claim that Apple's Asian component suppliers have kicked off mass production of the device's parts.
According to the sources, this smaller version of the iPad will have a 7.85-inch display with a lower resolution than the third-generation iPad. (This means that the tablet would not have a "Retina" display, as previous rumors have already suggested.)
The only other detail we believe we know about this smaller iPad is that it will very likely use a Lightning connector, just like the iPhone 5, rather than the older 30-pin connector found on current iPad models. 9to5 Mac's Seth Weintraub and Apple watcher John Gruber do also suggest that chances are high that this smaller tablet will look a lot like a large iPod Touch, with a smaller bezel, but the operating system will likely be identical to a standard-size iPad.
We might not have to wait too long to find out what's true and what's not about the mini iPad rumors though. According to Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt, a major Apple investor claims to have heard from multiple sources that members of the press will receive invitations to an Apple event on Oct. 10. Some informed guesswork suggests that this would mean that the actual event would have to take place on Oct. 17 and that whatever's announced would likely hit shelves on the Friday of the following week, which would be Oct. 26.
Given this expected timeline, it's no surprise that Apple might've given its suppliers the green-light to start production of the so-called "iPad Mini."
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