Sources and analysts have been claiming since February that the next 9.7-inch iPad would adopt the same form factor as the iPad Mini -- i.e., with a reduced display bezel (the frame surrounding the display that therefore dictates the dimensions of a tablet or smartphone) to make the overall device smaller while retaining the screen's dimensions. Digitimes' upstream supply chain contacts have also confirmed these details and further claim that battery life has been improved and that the device will also be lighter because it will be using one LED backlight instead of two for display illumination.
The same sources claim that the device is already at the pilot production stage, meaning that all the manufacturers require are official launch dates in order to initiate full-scale production.
However, the final specifications for the second-generation iPad Mini are apparently still in flux. Apple is reportedly yet to decide whether to ship the device with an HD Retina display and, if Apple decides to go HD, then production will have to be pushed back, suggesting that the device wouldn't be ready until the holiday season.
At the same time Apple is also believed to be investigating whether or not it is possible to shrink the iPad Mini's bezel even more to increase the viewing area of the display while potentially making the diminutive device even smaller still.