The 8in iPad seems a runner. Component makers have begun sending samples of the 7.85in tablet to Apple for its approval, moles say.
If correct, the claim suggests Apple would be in a position to enter full-scale production of the 'iPad Mini' in Q3, DigiTimes reports.
Last month, whispers from Asia had Apple touting the 7.85in design around component companies, but the claim that the Mac maker is planning a smaller gadget to compete more directly with Amazon's 7in, $199 (£125) Kindle Fire goes back to October 2011.
Think of the 'iPad Mini' as a straightforward scaled down iPad 2, the moles suggested at the time.
Steve Jobs was famously against smaller tablets, but then he was against Flash-based music players… right up until the moment Apple announced the Flash-based iPod Shuffle. Never say never, in other words.
The 'iPad Mini' should sit under the 8GB iPad 2 some other sources are claiming Apple will announce next week alongside the iPad 3. The lower capacity tablet will come down to $349 (£219), it's claimed, with the Mini price at $299 (£187). ®