Waiting for the iPad Mini Retina? Think about this

An iPad Mini Retina should be a welcome addition to the Mini line. But remember that awesome displays have special needs.

Can Apple fit an insanely pixel-dense display into the Mini's meager dimensions?
Can Apple fit an insanely pixel-dense display into the Mini's meager dimensions? Apple

An iPad Mini Retina looks possible this year. But will it duplicate the first Mini's success and dimensions?

Production of the display for the Retina Mini should start by July with a product likely in the third calendar quarter, DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim recently told CNET. (That said, delays are not unheard of in the annals of new product schedules.)

Which raises some questions about the Retina Mini -- no matter what quarter it makes its debut.

At only 7.9 inches, are the demands of an insanely pixel-dense 2,048x1,536 display compatible with the design of today's Mini?

We know the iPad Retina got thicker and heavier because of the extra internals -- including the backlight apparatus -- needed to support the display. In the case of the iPad 4, those extras include the higher-performance A6X processor with its quad-core graphics.

Would consumers care if the Mini got a little thicker, heavier? Do the benefits of a Retina display outweigh the need of maintaining a consistent design?

The iPad Mini is an almost perfect balance of screen size, weight, and thickness.  Can a Retina Mini stay true to this exceptional design?
The iPad Mini is an almost perfect balance of screen size, weight, and thickness. Can a Retina Mini stay true to this exceptional design? Apple

Maybe Apple and its display partners (e.g., LG Display) have figured out some way to mitigate the impact of the Retina display on the Mini's almost-perfect design.

I don't have the answers to these questions. But I do believe that a conspicuously thicker, heavier Retina Mini may not be as forgivable (compared to the larger iPad) because of the Mini's tiny dimensions.

On the other hand, a Mini Retina that gains only, let's say, a couple dozen grams could be passed off as essentially the same design.

And would eat the existing product's lunch -- a sure sign of a successful Apple design.

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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