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Foxconn Electronics, the world's largest contract maker of electronics, has begun mass production of smaller and less expensive version of Apple iPad, also known as iPad mini. The new media tablet will compete directly against recently released Google Nexus 7" and Amazon Kindle Fire HD, which recently hit the market.

Apple's key supplier has initiated mass production of the iPad mini just in time to roll-out the novelty commercially slightly ahead of the holiday season, reports the Wall Street Journal. The device will feature 7.85" LCD screen with 1024*768 resolution made by either AU Optronics or LG Electronics, something that has already been revealed. It is expected that Apple will formally introduce smaller and lighter iPad later this month.

It is unclear whether the new iPad mini will utilize Apple A5 system-on-chip that powers iPad 2 or Apple A6 found in the iPhone 5, but iPad mini will unlikely feature Apple A5X found in the latest iPad 3 since it has too sophisticated and expensive memory sub-system. Given smaller sizes of the A6 compared to predecessors thanks to 32nm process technology, it may power then new iPad. Still, one should remember that Apple also has 32nm version of the A5.'

So far, Apple has been offering iPads only in 9.7" form-factor and even criticized smaller media tablets. Nonetheless, many of Apple rivals, such as Amazon, Google, Samsung Electronics and some others are enjoying great demand for their 7"-class slates. In addition, the iPad mini 7.85" will likely be less expensive to make than the third-gen iPad 9.7", which will let Apple to offer them at lower price that the full-sized model that starts at $499.

"Many people use the iPad to play games and watch videos, but they cannot hold it with one hand," said Christine Wang, an analyst at Daiwa Capital Markets

Apple did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: Apple, iPad, iOS, Amazon, Google, Kindle, Nexus, Samsung, Galaxy Tab

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