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iPad 2 Production Starts February, iPhone 5 May

Monday China's Commercial Times (Google Translate) reported that Apple's manufacturing partners will begin iPad 2 production next month in a "small pilot."

Commercial Times said the number is expected to grow in the second quarter of calendar 2011, and could possibly exceed the peak seen with the original iPad tablet back in Q4 2010. Apple will reportedly keep Foxconn as its largest manufacturing partner while Pegatron and Apple's other typical suppliers will still play a vital role in the tablet's manufacturing process.

A separate report released on Friday claimed that the iPad 2 will feature a resolution of 2048 x 1536. The news was quickly shot down by IDC research manager Tom Mainelli who said the report was a bit premature. "Our sources say Apple has requested that manufacturers begin work on displays with that resolution for the iPad 3," he told PC World in an email. "I don't believe anybody is ready to produce that resolution in volumes at this point. And Apple is going to require huge volumes for the iPad 2."

IDC predicts that tablet shipments will grow from around 17 million units in 2010 to 44.6 million units in 2011. Apple's current iPad tablet made up 90-percent of the tablet volume in Q3 2010 alone. "We expect Apple to continue to own the lion's share of that market in 2011," Mainelli wrote.

In addition to the iPad 2 news, the Commercial Times said that Apple partners are expected to enter "volume production" of the 5th-generation iPhone this May. This backs up speculation that Apple plans to announce and make available the next iPhone model in June, the month Apple typically refreshes the device each year.