Apple is said to have begun production of the so-called 'iPad Mini' ahead of an expected October launch.
The long-rumoured product - which has not been officially confirmed - is said to feature a smaller, 7.85-inch display, and will be offered at a lower price to compete with the Google Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire and the Nook HD tablets.
Speculation is rife that Apple will announce a media event to unveil the product next week, with a potential launch of late October still on the cards.
Most analysts agree October 17 is looking likely as a date for the announcement.
Few other details about the product are known, though most analysts expect something closely resembling the existing iPad and running an almost identical version of iOS 6.