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7.85in iPad Mini displays to enter production this month, analyst claims

As a 21 September on-sale dale for the iPhone 5 looks like increasingly legitimate speculation, industry insiders may now be refocusing their attention on the arrival of the rumoured 'iPad Mini'.

Following Sharp's announcement yesterday that it is planning to start shipping screens destined for the new Apple smartphone later in the month, an analyst at display market research specialists NPD DisplaySearch has said that production is set to commence on 7.85in panels thought to be for the smaller iPad model.

If valid, the speculation means that the iPad Mini may not be launched alongside the iPhone 5 at Apple's 'special event' on 12 September, as some had thought. It could be announced then, of course, but the tablet is likely to closely follow the iPhone 5 on to the market rather than directly coinciding with the handset's release, still arriving well in time for the lucrative holiday shopping season.

"We expect panel production to start in August, with production ramping up to high volumes in the fourth quarter," said Paul Semenza, an analyst at NPD DisplaySearch

This is based on "understanding of the activity for the 7.85[in] panel expected to be used in the Mini," he added.

Although very little is known about potential iPad Mini pricing, a reduced form factor tablet with measurements between 7-8in would position Apple in competition with devices like the Google Nexus 7, which currently retails for £199.

Apple's bitter rival Samsung is also readying new products for autumn debuts, confirming just now that a Galaxy Note successor will be launched at IFA in Berlin at the end of the month - ITProPortal will naturally be in attendance.