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iPad mini to have an 8-inch screen?

Apple has received screen samples measuring 7.85-inches, according to reports. Could we be seeing an iPad mini?

It may or may not be the iPad 3, but Apple has received sample tablets with 7.85-inch screens and the same 1,024x768 resolution as the standard iPad 2, according to Taiwan's United Daily News, hinting that a smaller model is on the way.

Unwired View is also claiming that Au Optronics and LG Display have sent display samples to Apple, which is planning an iPad mini launch early next year, according to Mac Rumors. But hang on, this doesn't quite tally with what we heard before…

A tablet with a smaller screen at the same resolution would mean iPad apps would run natively, immediately opening it up to all the apps currently available. Previously, we had heard from an analyst that Apple was prepping an iPad mini, but that the 'mini' part referred to the price rather than the screen size.

Steve Jobs also famously said that 7-inch tablets were too small. But then again, he also talked down netbooks not long before Apple released the redesigned MacBook Air, which is about as close to a netbook as you can get.

Either way, Apple may well want to head off competition from Amazon's $199 (£127) Kindle Fire which was announced last month. The Kindle Fire boasts some impressive specs for the price, and while it lacks a camera, the Amazon-skinned Android software and colossal catalogue of content make it a very tantalising prospect -- for those in the US anyway. There's still no word on whether us Brits will see a UK version.

Analyst Brian White sent a note to investors last week saying research hinted at Apple working on a budget tablet that was the same size as the iPad 2. He even named it as the iPad mini, though we can't imagine Apple releasing a product of that name that isn't any smaller than the original.

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