New Apple iPad 5 reportedly inheriting iPad mini's sleek, light figure

The next version of Apple's iPad will reportedly take a little slice of inspiration from the existing iPad mini.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "people with knowledge in the matter" have confirmed that the device is already in production in Asia, where Apple has several manufacturing partners.

The anonymous informants claim that the slate – possibly called the iPad 5 - will feature the same touch panel technology as the iPad mini, which should make it slimmer and lighter than previous models of the 9.7in iPad.

The touch panel is the touch sensor-equipped section of the screen positioned between the outermost glass and the liquid crystal display layers.

The WSJ says that the mini's touchscreen technology differs from that of the other iPads, in that it uses a film-based touch panel, instead of a glass-based one. Naturally, the touch panel employed by the pint-sized tablet is thinner and less weighty than the full-sized iPad's.

The iPad 3 (652g) and iPad 4 (662g) are actually heavier than the iPad 2 (607g), so making the new version significantly lighter would be a sensible step for Apple, which has been under the spotlight for a lack of innovation in recent months. The 7.9in iPad mini weighs in at 312g.

Similarly, the iPad mini is only 7.2mm thick, while the iPad 3 and 4 are almost 1cm fat, at 9.4mm. The iPad 2 measures in at 8.8mm.

The iPad lineup was subject to a surprise refresh last October, and all the gossip points to an autumn launch for version five.

According to the latest reports, Apple's board is debating whether current CEO Tim Cook is the right man to lead the company forward, following a long lull in new product releases.