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'iPad mini' will be challengingly thin thanks to 'GF2' technology

Apple's new, smaller iPad will reportedly be so thin and light that production of the device has posed a particular challenge to the company.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities said in a research note issued on Friday that the so-called "iPad mini" will feature industry leading "GF Ditto," otherwise known as GF2, touchscreen technology. He said that Apple will be the first company in the world to commercialize and mass produce GF Ditto technology.

The new method is apparently an improvement from the "G/G touch structure" Apple currently utilizes in its third-generation iPad with Retina display. The switch will allow the new iPad to be not only thinner but significantly lighter.

The iPad mini will be about as thin as Apple's next-generation iPhone, according to Kuo. He estimates that the iPad mini's panel thickness will be below 2.2 millimeters alone, or below 4.2 millimeters including the printed circuit board — both numbers that he said are thinner than the average tablet on the market today.

Production of a device so thin and light has become a particular challenge for Apple in the manufacturing process, he said. In particular, the thinness of the new iPad "poses a challenge to panel assembly yield," as well as passing the company's "drop test" for durability.

Difficulties in manufacturing the iPad mini allegedly led to an internal delay in launching the device, according to Kuo. He believes that shipments of the smaller iPad will begin in the first half of October, and the device will become available to consumers in late October.

Mockup comparing sizes of iPads, Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire. | Source: iMore

In addition to the ultra-thin design, he also said the iPad mini will feature a high-definition forward-facing FaceTime camera, and a 5-megapixel rear camera.

Given the rumored supply constraints with the new design, Kuo has cut his projected iPad mini shipments this year from 15.1 million to 10.2 million. He said that Apple has increased orders for the iPad 2 as of July to "cope with delays in iPad mini launch."

Kuo's note issued Friday also claimed that Apple plans to update its current iPad with Retina display this fall, giving the device a new 9-pin dock connector but leaving the rest of the device largely unchanged.