Apple Rumored to Use Slim Bezel on Future 7.85-inch iPad

Rumors of a smaller iPad were strengthened Monday when DigiTimes reported that sources within Apple’s supply chain claim Apple is not only developing a 7.85-inch iPad, but that the company is using slim bezel technologies to maximize the viewing area of the display on the smaller form factor.

7-inch iPad Bezel

TMO artist’s rendering of the concent
Apple will likely make something that looks better than our mock-up, but you get the idea. 

Speculation of a smaller, roughly 7-inch iPad has persisted since shortly after the original iPad’s launch in April 2010. Following the release of Amazon’s Kindle Fire in November 2011, discussion intensified.

While no single tablet has thus far been able to credibly challenge the iPad from a sales perspective, the fact that Apple does not compete in the 5- to 8-inch product category leaves the company open to a potentially successful challenger in the overall tablet market. This perceived vulnerability has led to increasing rumors of the future, smaller iOS device which DigiTime’s sources now claim is inevitable.

Long-time Apple observers will note that the late Steve Jobs once said that the 7 inch form factor is too small for a proper tablet user interface. Earlier this month, however, the company introduced a replacement for the iPad 2 that increases the resolution of its 9.7 inch form factor from 1024 x 768 to 2048 x 1536. That leaves room for Apple to release a 7 inch device with the original 1024 x 768 resolution and argue that this is the magic that makes the 7 inch form factor work.

The 7.85-inch iPad is rumored to be priced between US$249 and $299 and will directly compete with offerings from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Samsung, among others. The smaller iPads are also rumored to have high quality IPS displays but, due to cost constraints, will likely not adopt the pixel density of a “Retina-quality” display, as found in the new iPad and iPhone. 

A previous report from DigiTimes claims that production of the 7.85-inch iPads will begin in the third quarter of 2012.