HolidayBuyer's Guide

iPad 5 sooner, Mini Retina later: Suppliers sing similar tune

Supplier chatter has become fairly consistent about when the iPad 5 and iPad Mini Retina will arrive.

The update for the 9.7-inch iPad with a bezel like the Mini may arrive first: that's a common theme emerging based on chatter from suppliers.
The update for the 9.7-inch iPad with a bezel like the Mini may arrive first -- that's a common theme emerging based on chatter from suppliers.Photo by Apple

A distinct theme has emerged about the timing of upcoming Apple tablets: The iPad 5 is on track, while the Retina Mini is up in the air.

The next-generation 9.7-inch iPad -- let's call it the iPad 5 -- is on track for a September debut, according to a report at Digitimes on Monday, citing sources at component suppliers.

If that sounds familiar, a report from NPD DisplaySearch last month said pretty much the same thing: It expects the iPad 5 in the third calendar quarter.

Continuing chatter also calls for a narrower side bezel like the Mini's and an overall thinner design, due to the use of a redesigned backlight apparatus.

Remember, with the iPad 3 -- the first Retina version -- the chassis got thicker and heavier than the iPad 2 due mostly to the extra backlights and battery power needed to drive the 2,048x1,536-pixel density display. And Apple maintained the same physical design for the iPad 4.

Speculation about the 7.9-inch Mini Retina has become consistent too: Don't hold your breath. Digitimes claimed Monday that Apple has not even decided whether to go Retina but, if it does, there is a chance of a product "release" in the fourth quarter sometime.

NPD DisplaySearch, on the other hand, says a Retina version is planned later -- likely months after the iPad 5 debuts.

IHS iSuppli told CNET in June that production for the high-resolution Mini could begin in the third quarter but warned that the "challenges [display makers] face are the [production] yield rates. And being able to produce in very high volume for Apple."

"Ideally, [display makers] should be producing in high volume one or two quarters before Apple can use the display," Sweta Dash, senior director of LCD research at IHS iSuppli, told CNET previously.

An interesting twist to the DisplaySearch supplier data is the emergence of another Mini model before the Retina. Due in the second half sometime, that will sport a 1,024x768 display (like the current version) but get a processor upgrade to the A6 from the A5 that's in the Mini today.