Why Apple Might Not Ship The iPad mini 2 With A Retina Display

iPad miniMany reviewers, in their mostly positive reviews of the iPad mini, noted that the lack of a Retina display was a disappointment, especially for users who got used to the brilliant Retina display on the iPad 3. Given that Apple hasn’t yet introduced a new product with a Retina display (unless you count the iPhone 5), it’s decision to ship the iPad mini without one isn’t surprising.

We can however estimate when Apple might ship a Retina iPad mini by taking a look at the difficulties involved in doing that.

The experts at Anandtech, in their review of the iPad mini, listed out potential problems Apple might have to face in going Retina:

Apple could [go Retina], but it would then need to make all of the same changes it made in going to the iPad with Retina Display, primarily the introduction of a larger battery and much larger SoC. The bigger battery is needed to drive the more powerful backlight, and the X-series of SoCs is needed to actually render the UI and games at such a high resolution. Both of these things would increase the size and cost of the mini, which would make it distinctly un-mini.

There are other ways of increasing the pixel density of the iPad mini’s screen from the current 163 ppi, like altering the resolution but, in the process, Apple would make it very difficult for developers to scale their existing apps for the display since it won’t involve outright doubling of UI elements. We doubt Apple would want to go that way.

So right now, it seems Apple’s stuck between the current 163 ppi iPad mini and a much thicker, heavier and, possibly, more expensive 326 ppi Retina iPad mini. Google and Amazon’s tablets meanwhile, sporting a pixel density midway between the two extremes, are capitalising on Apple’s weird position here, and are even highlighting the better screen density at a much cheaper price in their ads.

In the end, Anandtech concludes:

If you’re expecting next year’s mini to have a Retina Display, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

However strong Apple’s ecosystem is, the iPad mini would definitely be at a disadvantage if its updated version ships with the same non-Retina screen while Apple’s competitors deliver denser screens at much cheaper prices.  There seem to be rumors that suggest Apple is indeed exploring options to go Retina with the 2nd gen iPad mini, but the sources they emerge aren’t very credible.

If you’re in the market for a 7-8” tablet one year down the line, and find that Apple still hasn’t shipped a Retina display iPad, would you consider a Nexus 7 or a Kindle Fire?

Via: Daring Fireball

  • loganexplosion

    Yep, no way they could possibly make it any better. This is as good as it gets people. GO BUY SOMETHING NOW! CONSUME. CONSUME. OBEY. DON’T QUESTION AUTHORITY.

  • Kiwiholden

    I would still rather a iPad mini over my Samsung tab even if it had the old gameboy screen resolution

    • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

      Couldn’t help but chuckle out loud at this…

      And I COMPLETELY agree!

    • barondebxl

      Speaking like a true fanboy.

      • Kiwiholden

        Yes I am a fanboy that is true but I have also spent a lot of time using my Samsung tab and hacking it just so I can update to a firmware that is two major releases behide, not to mention the fact i can’t even get a genuine charger from any shops, well I’ll stop there I can go on for days about all the things that really drive me mad about the droids I use.
        At the moment my iPad 3 and my 4S are all I need, for now

  • drumrobot

    “Given that Apple hasn’t yet introduced a new product with a Retina display (unless you count the iPhone 5), it’s decision to ship the iPad mini without one isn’t surprising.”
    The MacBook Pro now has a Retina Display. I guess it’s not really “new”, but it didn’t replace the non-Retina version and it’s pretty different in lots of other ways (besides the screen).

    • http://rounak.me/ Rounak Jain

      I guess the non Retina MacBooks exist for the same reason the iPad 2 does—Apple needs to have a product at that price point due to the demand. Also, the iPad 2 exists alongside the iPad 4 :)

  • http://twitter.com/Panthers_Den Steven Andrews

    Absolutely love my iPad Mini just the way it is. Yes, a higher resolution would be nice but at what expense? Stop with all the nay saying and be happy for one!

    • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

      I said with the iPad, iPhone, and even my MBP… Give me smaller size and lighter weight BEFORE resolution. I LOVE a killer display like the Retina, but I would MUCH rather sacrifice that as opposed to a thinner, lighter overall device.

  • Pacomacman

    I’d rather have a lower PPI and more eye candy than waste CPU rendering pixels we can hardly see. After all the 163 PPI on the Mini blows even the 27″ iMac screen out of the water and nobody complains that is too low! It’s like the ridiculous assumption that more megapixels gives us a better camera!

    • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

      Bingo! If you hold a Retina display and a non-Retina display side-by-side and you look REALLY REALLY hard, you can see the difference.

      If you simply pick up/hold an iPad 2 vs iPad 3, you can see and feel the difference. They had to “beef up” the iPad 3 to support the added resolution. DISLIKE.

  • mabbent

    Current screen resolution on the iPad mini is fine, yeah if you place an iPad 3 next to the mini you can tell the deference. For me the only miss on the current iPad mini was going with 512mb and not 1GB, I really notice the swap out time and background loading of tabs in browsers.

  • FromNL

    Do you really think that Apple couldn’t ship the iPad mini with a Retina display? So they’ll have nothing to “improve” on in 2013 or 2014? Come on! Apple is a company just like any other, they need us to buy this stuff and to replace it when a new model gets introduced.