First off, I’ll tell you some numbers to show you how popular the iPad Mini really is. NPD DisplaySearch had originally expected display makers to ship 6 million iPad Mini displays in the fourth quarter of 2012. But last month it quickly upped that estimate to about 12 million.
It’s safe to say that the Mini is in demand. But what gets better next year? The Screen.
The iPad Mini’s relatively grainy 1,024×768-pixel resolution display is fine for most people. But at only 163 pixels per inch — versus 264 pixels per inch for the Retina iPad — I don’t think it’s good enough for Apple.
It is not good enough for Apple – particularly when Amazon’s larger Kindle Fire HD achieves 254 pixels per inch in an 8.9 inch display. And Google’s popular Nexus 7 offers better resolution than the Mini too.
So how will Apple up it’s ante? Well, it seems that Apple will slap on an eye-popping 2,048×1,536-pixel screen (same pixel count as the 9.7-inch Retina iPad but in a considerably tighter space) and swap out the A5 chip for a faster A6.
While this will be nice to see… it has some cons as well. A Retina Display will mean a heavier and thicker device, and it will be more costlier to produce. So don’t be surprised if the Mini’s price goes up.
But it would be worth it. For some people, the pixel shock – after using the Retina iPad 4 and a Mini — isn’t so much going from the iPad 4 to the Mini but switching back to the 4’s Retina. That display is so obviously superior to the Mini’s that it’s impossible to put down the 4 sometimes, despite the Mini’s ergonomic appeal.
And here is another reason why people are going back to the iPad 4. It’s a lot faster.
So you can bet that Apple will eventually put the same speedy A6 chip that’s in the iPhone 5 and iPad 4 inside the Mini.
And how soon will all of the above happen? That depends on how quickly suppliers can mass produce the prospective Mini’s Retina display. My guess is that mass producing a 7.85-inch, 3 million-plus pixel density display that can fit in the current Mini’s chassis is a lot harder than people think.