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