Apple to use thin-film touch technology in 7in iPad mini

Reports suggest that the smaller iPad will launch before the end of 2012

The rumoured 7.85in iPad will have thin-film touch technology, and will launch by the fourth quarter of 2012, according to reports.

In a report, Digitimes quotes industry sources who believe the smaller iPad, dubbed iPad 'mini' will feature G/F2 thin-film touch technology. Nitto is thought to be supplying the thin-film materials, with Nissha Printing and TPK manufacturing the touch screens.

The thin-film technology will enable the iPad mini to be thinner because it has one less layer than the current structure, said the sources. They also claim that the technology will help reduce costs.

The sources said that Apple wants to say competitive with other small-sized tablets that are already on the market. The sources believe that up to 10 million units of the 7in iPad will ship this year.

Pacific Crest Analyst Andy Hargreaves also believes that the smaller iPad could use thin-film technology, and will launch before Christmas, reports Forbes.

"Our checks suggest a smaller iPad is likely to launch prior to this holiday season," he wrote in a research note on Monday. "Checks with component suppliers suggest that Apple is beginning to provide order indications for a smaller iPad that is likely to launch before the holiday period."

Hargreaves expects that the smaller iPad could sell for $299 (£188). He believes that the iPad mini will have a 1024x768 pixel display. "We also expect Apple to use a glass-film touch solution instead of the more expensive glass-glass touch solution that it uses on the larger iPads and the iPhone," said Hargreaves. "This combination, along with a smaller battery, should allow Apple to reduce its bill-of-materials by at least $50 versus the new iPad. Apple may also choose to use the legacy A5 core processor and reduce storage to 8GB, which would further reduce the bill of materials and could drive upside to our preliminary gross margin estimate of 30%."

Hargreaves, however, dismisses the idea of an Apple television set, claiming that Apple wouldn't waste the retail space, and that there's little chance of it doing a deal with US broadcast and cable providers.

Rumours of a 7in iPad have been circulating for some time now, with Daring Fireball's John Gruber recently claiming that Apple is in the process of testing a prototype of the iPad mini.

Earlier in the year, reports surfaced claiming that Apple has chosen to use a slim bezel on the iPad in order to maximize the viewing area of the tablet.

Samsung Securities also expects Apple to launch a smaller iPad, possibly in the third quarter of 2012.

Rumours of a 7in iPad continue to be viewed with some skepticism, however, as the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously dismissed the idea in October 2010, saying: "The 10in screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps. 7in tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone, and too small to compete with an iPad."

However, it is believed that Apple may have been convinced about the smaller form factor following the success of Amazon's Kindle Fire.

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Ashleigh Allsopp

Macworld U.K.

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