Apple usually keeps a pretty steady stream of product announcements coming. But right now we’re in the middle of the longest Apple product drought in recent memory (pushing seven months). So it’s natural that we’ll start hearing rumors about the next wave of products about to enter the pipeline. That’s just what happened today, with news of Apple’s suppliers gearing up for production of a new iPad.

The news comes from DigiTimes, which says the 5th-generation iPad will enter production soon. Apparently volume production will start in July, and it’ll hit store shelves as early as September. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s pretty much in line with previous rumors about the iPad 5 – including from proven Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Like Kuo’s predictions, today’s report points to a 5th-gen iPad with a positively iPad mini-like design. Like the 7.9-inch tablet, the 9.7 version would have narrower bezels and a thinner/lighter build. Or so the rumors say.

Shedding weight by shedding LEDs

The DigiTimes report also gives us a few technical tidbits. Supposedly the display resolution will be the same as the iPads 3 and 4 (2048 x 1536), but Apple will use a thinner glass substrate (0.2 mm, to the last iPad’s 0.25 mm).

It will also supposedly drop the dual LED light bars from the last two iPads – shifting to just one. Those two LED bars are part of the reason for the massive (42.5 W-h) battery in the 3rd and 4th generation iPads. Cut a light bar, and you potentially have a smaller battery ... and a lighter iPad.

It would be 25-33 percent lighter, according to the estimates in today’s report. That has us looking at a weight of 438-490 grams – easily making the next iPad the lightest tablet we’ve seen in the 9- to 10-inch range.

Grains of salt

As always – especially when we’re dealing with DigiTimes reports – we’ll want to take all of this with many grains of salt. You can learn a lot from the supply chain, but that doesn’t mean you won’t also get your fair share of bogus rumors.

Still, there’s been enough smoke to suggest that Apple will be lighting a new iPad fire sometime between August and November.

Source: DigiTimes, via MacRumors