Asia chatter predicts increase in cost of Retina iPad Mini

The Retina iPad Mini may incur substantially more display assembly costs, an Asia-based report claims.

Be careful what you wish for: a Retina iPad will add a lot of cost -- so report claims.
Be careful what you wish for: a Retina iPad will add a lot of cost -- so a report claims. Apple

Chatter in Asia has it that the total cost of the iPad Mini could increase by almost a third -- though no word on whether that would impact price.

Commentary in Digitimes, which is close to the chain of component suppliers in Asia, said the jump to a Retina screen means adding costly display components.

If iPad mini adopts the Retina display, the dots per inch (DPI) will be higher and the brightness of the backlight modules will have to improve. This also means the number of LEDs used will...[increase the total cost] by more than 30% if it is equipped with the 7.9-inch Retina panel.

This commentary is similar to what Vinita Jakhanwal, a display analyst at IHS iSuppli, told CNET in November .

At that time, she said a Retina iPad Mini with a design identical to the current Mini would not have been possible. "They would have had to compromise on thickness and weight and price," she said.

But more than three months have passed since then. And it's not known if display technologies such as IGZO or some version of Low Temperature Polysilicon (LTPS) -- the latter used in the iPhone 5 -- are beginning to address some of these display assembly challenges.

If those challenges are met, a Retina iPad Mini could potentially maintain its current design and even, possibly, its price, Jakhanwal said previously.

When Apple introduced the 9.7-inch Retina in March 2012, it maintained the same price.

The upcoming Nexus 7, for example, is expected to have a Full HD display but maintain the same $199 starting price.

The 7-inch tablet segment may account for 45 percent to 60 percent of total shipments this year, Digitimes said.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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