Sharp announces first IGZO 7-inch tablet, claims battery life increased over 2X with new tech rumored for Apple’s mini iPad

We heard reports in the past that Apple passed on Sharp’s IGZO display tech for the third-generation iPad due to Sharp not having the tech ready in time. Going with Sharp’s IGZO tech would have allowed for a thinner display assembly, a brighter display with less LEDs, and the ability to use a smaller battery or extend battery life specs as a result. It could have also helped shave off some of the increased weight and depth of the new iPad. These are all things we witnessed first hand when we got up close and personal with a few IGZO demos at IFA this year.  Sharp is announcing today its first 7-inch tablet to use the display technology, claiming the 1,280-by-800 IGZO display allows for 2.5 times the battery life from the tablet’s 2,040mAh battery (via ComputerWorld).

With the iPad mini launch coming later this month, it is a possibility the tech is finally ready for Apple to take advantage. Sharp also has 10-inch and 13-inch variants of the IGZO displays, but the 7-inch would of course make a lot of sense for iPad mini given what we already know about the device. Apple’s ability to increase battery life, or simply have the ability to use a smaller battery (in a smaller form factor) while maintaining battery life specs, is just one benefit. Another big benefit for Apple would be narrow borders: rumor has it—which is something we also talked about a lot in the past—the iPad mini will have a much narrower border than previous-generation iPads. Sharp told us its IGZO LCDs can be built with a bezel under 2mm, and it was showing off a demo display with a 1.75mm border at IFA. That would definitely fit the bill for the narrow-border, one-handed experience we expect from iPad mini. Read more

Belkin and Brenthaven join the list of mainstream iPad mini accessory makers

A few reputable case makers have already started creating 7.85-inch iPad cases and screen protectors in anticipation of the rumored iPad mini unveiling, including Zagg and Devicewear. The rumored Oct. 10 mailing of invites to the press came and went; however, according to The Wall Street Journal, we can still expect an unveiling of the device within weeks. Other case manufactures are also now betting on an iPad mini launch, including well-known case makers Belkin, Brenthaven, and others.

The image above shows Belkin’s Screen Guard “Anti-Fingerprint” screen protector, while we see iPad mini folios in black and white in the tweet below from Brenthaven (in stock and selling from its website). XtremeGuard is also accepting pre-orders for its iPad mini screen protector.

Other manufacturers have started selling iPad mini cases through Amazon. We see Ionic’s Hybrid Leather case cover with stand in the image below, while a case from KHOMO is on the right. Most do not provide exact measurements for the cases, but Brenthaven listed outer dimensions of its case as 7.5″ W x 4.8″ H x .75″ D. There are also a number of other lower-priced products, such as this black premium leather folio from Elsse, but some appear to just be repurposed 7-inch Android tablet cases.

Rumor: 7-inch iPad coming in October for under $250?

Following yesterday’s report from DigiTimes claiming Apple had a new 7-inch iPad in the works for August, iMore’s Rene Ritchie today claimed Apple is actually targeting an October release, alongside the next iPhone. He also claimed his unnamed source said the device will launch for $200 to $300 and pack-in a Retina display and specs almost identical to the current iPads:

Apple will be going forward with the 7-inch iPad, currently targeting an October 2012 release alongside the new iPhone, and — here’s the killer — at a $200 to $250 price point… Our source has indicated, however, that the 7-inch iPad will be identical to the current 9.7-inch iPad, just scaled down. That seems to include a 2048×1536 resolution display, just like the new iPad. If accurate, that would put the pixel density at around 326 ppi, the same as the iPhone 4S (and higher than the 264 ppi new iPad) retina display.

Ritchie noted his source is not sure of the exact dimensions, but past rumors indicated a 7.85-inch size could work. According to the report, one way Apple will meet the low price point is to offer the new 7-inch iPad with just 8GB of storage. We are taking this report for what it is until we have some solid proof, but we know iMore’s Ritchie has been accurate with several Apple product launches in the past, including the third-gen iPad and iPhone 4S.

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Digitimes’ latest rumor: new iPhone coming September, 7-inch iPad in August, and new 10-inch iPad in Q4

The ever-sketchy DigiTimes does not have the best reputation when it comes to predicting Apple product launches, but today the publication is reporting Apple OEM Pegatron began receiving orders for a new iPhone and a next-generation 10-inch iPad. It also reported Apple plans to release a 7-inch iPad in August:

Pegatron Technology reportedly has landed orders for a new-generation iPhone to be launched in September and a 10-inch iPad to be launched in the fourth quarter, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers. Pegatron is currently an OEM for the iPhone 4S and new iPad… A 7-inch iPad, which reportedly will be released in August, will be manufactured by Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry).

With the release of Apple’s new iPad last March, we find it hard to imagine Apple plans to break its yearly release window with a new 10-inch iPad, in addition to a 7-inch variant in August. We heard many rumors lately about a 7-inch or 7.85-inch tablet, indicating Apple could be experimenting with smaller screen sizes. In April, a translated report from a Chinese publication claimed Apple was prepping 7.85-inch iPad minis to launch in Q3 for $250 to $300, but we have not heard anything concrete on Apple’s plans to release a 7-inch tablet. As for iPhone, we are still expecting an October launch at this point.
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