Photos of what appear to be a smaller Apple iPad come close to confirming that the device is real.
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New photos of a tablet device with Apple branding and design language appeared on a Chinese blog that match earlier photos of the same device. The device is purported to be the iPad Mini, a smaller version of Apple's iconic tablet computer.
Apple has not announced plans to manufacture such a device, but it has been in the works a long time. Component suppliers from Asia have tipped Apple's smaller tablet plans numerous times.
The latest leaked images show a device that makes use of an aluminum shell, which has become synonymous with Apple's iPad. Based on the images, the iPad Mini's aluminum shell is thicker and somewhat less attractive than the new iPad, thanks to thicker edges.
The leaked images don't confirm how big the device is, but it has long been assumed that the iPad Mini will feature a display measuring 7.85 inches. The full-sized iPad has a 9.7-inch display.
Two cameras are plainly visible in the leaked photos: one on the back and one on the front, presumably for FaceTime. The iPad Mini also appears to have a smaller port, which is probably the same Lightning port on the just-announced iPhone 5. The smaller port is flanked by speakers along the bottom edge of the iPad Mini.
Other features of the iPad Mini are not known. Will it have a Retina Display, will it run an A6 or an A5 processor? How much RAM and storage will it have, and can it be used on cellular networks?
Apple has a lot of competition in the entry-level tablet space, including the Nexus 7 and new Amazon Kindle Fire. Both tablets are available for less than $200. If Apple fields a competitive alternative at an attractive price point, it could bury these and other inexpensive Android tablet options.
Apple is expected to announce the device sometime in October. It should be available before the holidays. Pricing for the iPad Mini is believed to fall in the $249 - $349 range. The new iPad starts at $499.
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