Is Apple’s iPad mini the new iPod touch?

A slew of alleged iPad mini components have tipped up online in recent days, inspiring some fans to render mockups of an uber-thin, iPod touch-inspired device that could launch this Fall in time for the lucrative holiday season.

One of the most interesting iPad mini mockups was designed by iMore, which depicts the same depth – 7.2mm – as the current iPod touch, measurements which are obviously significantly thinner than the 9.7-inch iPad third-gen iPad. 

According to iMore, the design changes are intended to enhance one-handed operation with a thin-and-light profile.

“Perhaps one of the most prominent features in the mockup is the extremely thin bezel seen around the screen when holding the unit in portrait orientation,” noted AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell.

“This feature is supposedly the result of making the device thinner and lighter, and is consistent with the design of the iPod touch.”

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber also weighed in on the above-mentioned render, stating that each Apple product is clearly built for a specific audience and purpose. As such, says Gruber, the iPod touch doesn’t require the same thick bezel seen on the iPad because a user doesn’t have the same need to rest their thumbs during normal use.

Gruber also claimed the iPad Mini will likely sport a screen-based on legacy technology to save weight, rather than a power-hungry retina display. 

“The iPad Mini, based on my best guess hunch dimensions of 200 × 135 x 7.2 mm = 193,680 cubic mm. Divide and you get 78 percent. The Nexus 7 weighs 340 grams, so, let’s guess that the iPad Mini will weigh just 265 grams,” Gruber explained.

“For comparison, the WiFi-only iPad (3) weighs 652 grams, and the Amazon Kindle 3G with keyboard weighs about 247 grams. So a sub-300-gram smaller iPad would be pretty light.”

While official specs are completely non-existent, rumors indicate the iPad mini may be packaged with a mini flex cable with a smaller dock connector, as Apple moves from the current 30-pin version to a compact 9-pin paradigm. Other features may include a 7.85-inch display with 1024 x 768 resolution.

Although Apple has yet to officially confirm the existence of an iPad Mini, analysts at Pacific Crest recently said they anticipated an entry-level 7.85-inch iPad with 8GB of NAND capacity priced at $299.

“We estimate Apple will sell 10.0 million 7.85-inch iPads in FQ1 (Dec.) and 35.2 million in all of F2013,” the analysts wrote in a recent industry note.

“Based on estimated component order volume, we believe our iPad mini unit estimates are well within Apple’s production capacity. We anticipate 25% cannibalization of the larger 9.7-inch iPad (for every four 7.85-inch iPads added, we reduced our 9.7-inch iPad estimate by one), so our total F2013 iPad estimate increases to 91.6 million from 65.2 million.”