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Apple prepares to reveal iPad mini as experts claim it could cost as little as £200 - and kill off competition from Google and Amazon

At 6pm tomorrow evening, Apple boss Tim Cook is set to take to the stage in a San Jose theatre to introduce Apple's latest blockbuster product - a mini tablet set to fend off competition from Amazon’s Kindle Fire and a raft of relatively cheap smaller tablet computers.
The shrunken iPad is rumoured to have a screen that is 7.8inches across the diagonal – which compares to 9.7 on the original version.
Tech watchers suggest the device – like the latest incarnation of the iPhone – will work on the superfast 4G mobile network that will launch next week in the UK.
Is this the finished iPad Mini? a leaked photo shows the purported mini on top of a full sized iPad for comparison
Is this the finished iPad Mini? a leaked photo shows the purported mini on top of a full sized iPad for comparison

Apple is said to be planning to charge £200 for the smaller version, which is around half the price of the cheapest iPad 3.
However, it will remain considerably more expensive than Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which costs £129, and the higher specification Kindle Fire HD, which is £159.
Amazon has suggested it is selling its tablets at a loss in order to get it into the hands of families. 
The idea is that it can then cash in through sales of a vast library of books, music, films and TV programmes.
Apple’s innovative phones, tablets and computers have always come with a hefty price premium, while its rise to become the world’s most valuable company has been fuelled by sales through its vast iTunes store.
Jason Jenkins, the editor of CNET UK, said: ‘If the leaks are correct, we can expect Apple to announce an iPad mini that’s more like a shrunk-down iPad 2 than an iPad 3.
‘It should have a 7.8-inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768. It will have the new, smaller Lightning port seen on the iPhone 5, which means you’ll need to buy a converter to plug it into any equipment that uses the old-style, large Apple plug.
‘I am expecting it to come in around the £200 mark, which would enable Apple to compete with the avalanche of cheap tablets appearing in the shops from Google, Amazon and others.
‘With Amazon selling a 7-inch tablet for just £129, though, Apple is going to going to have a real fight on its hands as it attempt to dominate the tablet market in Europe in the way it has until now.’
It is thought that Apple will also launch a tweaked version of the iPad 3 that works on the UK’s 4G network.  


Apple's yet-to-be-announced iPad Mini has apparently been revealed in full for the first time in the best set of pictures yet leaked on the internet.
Sonny Dickson, a researcher for fansite 9to5mac.com, published the images on his Twitter feed last week, sparking a wave of excitement among Apple enthusiasts.
The images (above and below) show a device that is significantly smaller than the regular iPad.
According to rumours it boasts a 7.85in liquid crystal display, making it a rival to Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire.
The images also show the iPad Mini utilises the controversial new connector introduced with the iPhone 5, which has made all accessories available to previous Apple gadgets obsolete at a stroke.
It emerged yesterday that Apple had instructed suppliers in China to manufacture 10million of the new smaller tablet computers, showing faith in their product in the face of stiff competition.
Insiders say the iPad Mini will be announced on October 17, a few days from the releases of Amazon's Kindle Fire and Microsoft's Surface tablets, and go on sale November 2.
As yet, however, Apple has not officially confirmed any of the reports, rumours of leaks about a smaller iPad.
Apple's 9-inch device dominates the market, but smaller, cheaper tablets have been eating away at the iPad's popularity. 
Changes: This picture, leaked by the same source, compares the new connector on the iPad Mini with the old version as seen on previous versions of the iPad
Changes: This picture, leaked by the same source, compares the new connector on the iPad Mini with the old version as seen on previous versions of the iPad
The launch comes in a week of hi-tech product releases.
Amazon has already enjoyed huge success in the US with its updated Fire tablets - but will release them internationally for the first time on the 25th October. 
The gadgets, are available in both 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions (although only the 7-inch version is currently set to go o sale outside of the US).
Microsoft is also launching its Surface tablets on the 26th, when Google is also believed to be revealing new tablets and software.


IPAD MINI (expected specs)KINDLE FIRE HD
7.85inch screen (iPad 2 pictured below)
specifications unknown
7inch screen
12800x800 display 
11 hour battery life
50,000 apps in Amazon appstore
Price unknownFrom £129 ($199)
HD front cameras
HD front facing camera
Hand holding iPad 2 showing applications menu screen.

Kindle Fire HD - 8.9
10.6inch screen
Case can double as keyboard
7inch screen
1440 x 900 HD LCD
11 hour battery life
50,000 apps in Amazon appstore
£399 to £599From £159 ($199)
HD front facing camera

Nook HD

The Mini launch comes as research suggests a quarter of us - 22 per cent - own a tablet, with another three per cent regularly borrowing someone else's tablet for web browsing.
About 68 per cent of the 9,5123 adults surveyed said they purchased their tablet within the last year.
The U.S. survey by the Pew Research Center also suggests the flood of cheaper tablets, such as the Google Nexus or Amazon Fire, are weakening Apple's grip on the market.
A year ago, Apple had more than 80 per cent of the market, but this has now dropped to less around 52 per cent.
The Kindle Fire has 21 per cent of the market, meanwhile Samsung's Galaxy tablet has eight per cent.
Out of those surveyed, 44 per cent of adults who said they have a smartphone, 46 per cent have an Android phone, 38 per cent, have an iPhone and 10 per cent have a Blackberry.


Steve Jobs famously ruled on a smaller iPad, saying 'The current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA, dead on arrival.
'We don't think you can make a great tablet with a 7-inch screen.'
However, devices like the Amazon Kindle and Google's Nexus 7 have shown that there is a market for smaller devices that consumers can use on public transport, causing Apple to reportedly change its mind on an 'iPad mini' with a 7 or 8 inch screen.