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Retina Display on the iPad Mini: What It Would Take
If you think that Apple’s following a predictable pattern with its iPad releases, you might be correct… so long as you’ve taken the iPad Mini off the list.
Here’s what we mean: The launch of the first-generation iPad Mini didn’t include a “Retina Display” among the tablet’s key features, leading some to speculate that Apple’s sure to wow fans (and frustrate first-gen purchasers) with a souped-up display in the iPad Mini’s second iteration.
However, AnandTech’s Anand Lal Shimpi and Vivek Gowri recently posted an analysis that pours a little water on these hopes. In the article, they argue that Apple has to make one of three fundamental changes to the iPad Mini in order for one’s dreams of a Retina Display to become a reality: Double the current horizontal and vertical resolution of the iPad Mini, pick a new resolution that allows Apple to achieve a Retina Display while still maintaining the iPad Mini’s 4:3 aspect ratio, or pick a brand-new resolution and aspect ratio entirely.
While the first option might seem the most likely scenario given Apple’s tendency to just quadruple the pixel count of its tablets in order to achieve the characteristics of its Retina Display, the reality – according to Shimpi and Gowri – is that doing so on the iPad Mini would require Apple to significantly bump up the device’s battery and processor. That calls for a beefier, heavier, and costlier tablet, “which would make it distinctly un-mini,” they write.
Changing up the resolution – but keeping the aspect ratio intact – would still force Apple to do a bit of scaling or filtering in order to match up the iPad Mini 2′s with the standard 1024-by-768 or 2048-by-1536 points-and-pixel translation employed by Apple’s current iPad lineup. And Apple’s readjustments to fit a new resolution into its iPad portfolio might invariably cost a Retina Display iPad Mini some image quality, which arguably defeats the point of the switch itself.
And while Apple could, of course, pick a brand-new resolution and aspect ratio for a future iPad Mini, doing so would only frustrate developers, in that they’d now have to code their apps to support an additional resolution. While the company managed to get away with a resolution switch for its iPhone 5, pulling such a change but a year into the iPad Mini’s existence seems unlikely, at best.
“I feel certain the Mini will go retina, and that when it does, it will do so exactly like all previous iOS devices: same physical size, double the pixel resolution,” wrote Daring Fireball’s John Gruber in response. “The only question is when. The iPhone went retina in the fourth generation; the full-size iPad in the third. Seems like too much to ask for the Mini to do so in its second.”
By David Murphy, PCMag