The Wall Street Journal is this morning citing sources from within Apple's supply chain in asserting that the company has begun production of a new tablet device, which is smaller than its 9.7-inch iPad. Two of the informants claim the new device's screen measures 7.85 inches diagonally — affirming what Bloomberg reported in August — with LG Display and AU Optronics having started manufacturing the LCD panels for it last month. The resolution on this purported new slate is said to be lower than on the latest iPad, but that's to be expected given the 2048 x 1536 Retina resolution on the bigger tablet.

Marginally bigger than the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7, likely more expensive too

With a lower resolution and smaller physical size, the widespread expectation for any new iPad model is that it will fill out Apple's range against the aggressively priced Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 slates from Amazon and Google. Of course, the rumored size here is marginally bigger than those 7-inch tablets, and Apple's eventual price can also probably be expected to be at least a little bit higher.

While the WSJ report refers to this device as a "Mini iPad," it has most commonly been rumored alongside the name of iPad mini. Today's news follows a note posted to Japanese blog Macotakara on Monday, which stated that production of an iPad mini had begun in a Foxconn plant over in Brazil, although the Journal's information is coming from Apple's Asian component makers.