Rumour: Apple eyes off the 7 inch space with an iPad Mini

The Apple iPad 2.

We’ve heard these rumours time and time again, but it appears they’re revving up again, as on the eve of a new iPad announcement, suggestions that a smaller iPad will hit shelves later this year.

While Apple’s next iPad is slated for launch tomorrow with release shortly thereafter, rumours are pointing to a 7.1 inch iPad that would face off against the smaller Android tablets that have been circulating ever since Android entered the tablet space.

Tomorrow’s iPad 3 is expected to feature a new high resolution 2048×1536 display, twice that of the iPad 2, and could adopt the name “iPad HD”. If Apple could put that sort of display on a 7 inch panel, it would have a Retina-grade screen that features an even higher pip than the iPhone 4’s screen, making text and images even clearer.

If Apple is working on an iPad Mini, chances are that we won’t hear about it at tomorrow’s launch, with Apple likely picking a date closer to the middle of the year, likely around that of the next iteration of its iPhone mobile handset.