WSJ confirms mass production of the iPad mini

By , Oct 3, 2012

The Wall Street Journal lent its aura of credibility to the iPad mini rumor with a report out this morning declaring that Apple’s manufacturing partners in Asia have started mass-producing the device, in time for a rumored October 17 announcement and early-November availability.

According to “people with knowledge of the situation”, the device will indeed have a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display with a lower resolution than the third-generation iPad with a 2,048-by-1,536 pixel Retina display, meaning the iPad mini will quite possibly run a 1024-by-768 display just as the original iPad and iPad 2 do…

Lorraine Luk, writing for the Journal:

Apple Inc.’s Asian component suppliers have started mass production of a new tablet computer smaller than the current iPad, people with knowledge of the situation said, as the Silicon Valley company tries to stay competitive against rivals such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. that are offering smaller, less-expensive alternatives to the iPad.

The Journal’s story corroborates a report by the fairly accurate Japanese blog Macotakara claiming the iPad mini production began recently in Foxconn’s facilities in Brazil.

Recently leaked parts (see below) suggest the device will be provided in both WiFi and cellular variants, in black and white, possibly sporting an anodized aluminum enclosure like the iPhone 5 (Scuffgate on a bigger scale, anyone?).

It is high time for a smaller, inexpensive iPad.

According to one study, the iPad’s commanding share has dropped from 81 percent last year to 52 percent in 2012, and this was before Google’s well-received Nexus 7 and Amazon’s refreshed Kindle Fire series became available, both starting at just $199.

Two of the people said the smaller tablet will have a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display with a lower resolution compared with the latest iPad model that came out in March.

LG Display and AU Optronics will supply screens for the iPad mini, the publication notes. The report does not mention Samsung which recently saw a drop in orders amid its legal battle with Apple over patents.

Now, because the iPad mini will squeeze the iPad 2’s 1024-by-768 9.7-inch display onto an area that’s at least 40 percent smaller, the individual pixels will be closer together so pixelation will be less visible, conventional wisdom has it.

Who knows, Apple engineers could even hit the magic 320 pixels-per-inch density required to justify the Retina moniker, even if it means slightly increasing the resolution beyond 1024-by-768.

The iPad mini with a Retina-quality display would give Apple a distinct advantage over the sea of Android tablets, which typically boast 1024-by-768 screens, with some going all the way up to the 1280-by-720 resolution for native 720p high-definition video playback.

Of course, messing with the resolution would inevitably result in more work for developers as their apps would need to be updated to take advantage of the extra pixels.

On the other hand, nobody complained too much about a similar change the iPhone 5 has brought upon Apple’s developers.

Remember, Apple did the same thing with the iPhone 5’s four-inch display, choosing to increase the iPhone 4/4S’s 640-by-480 resolution to 1,136-by-640 pixels in order to stay within the Retina requirements on the taller display.

Developers were concerned about redesigning user interfaces for yet another form factor, but those worries proved to be unfounded as only minor changes are typically required to take advantage of the extra 176 lines in order to render more content.

What do you think, will the iPad mini have a Retina display or a “regular” 1024-by-768 pixel screen?

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  • http://twitter.com/MCaudebec Maxim∑

    I highly doubt apple would ditch Retina, especially since apps are required to be retina optimized now in the app store. 1024×768 is only 163ppi

    And the bezel on that picture is way to big…..

  • http://twitter.com/myorangeisstuck Willie

    Maybe apple is just making electronic photo frames with iCloud integration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/idmeraz Isaac Daniel Meraz

    1024 by 768 would mean a 4:3 aspect ratio and I believe we have seen 16:9 leaked screens

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Keulen/100001038751830 Mark Keulen

    I think (read: hope) it will be a normal display, resulting in a much lower production cost and customer price ^^.
    On the other hand, they are kinda making retina standard now with the new products, so who knows. Wont be getting one anyway, got an iPhone and an iPad (new one) so no need for a in-between version.

  • ReanimationXP

    With the exception of iPhone 5, Apple has always employed pixel doubling when creating higher-res versions of devices. This achieves their goal of avoiding forcing developers to change their apps to fit a new aspect ratio.

    In the case of the 5, they introduced a new aspect ratio for the first time since the iPad. This was done simply to make the screen bigger whilst not making it too wide or tall to easily reach the top left of the screen when holding the phone, and I doubt they will change the aspect ratio again.

    Since pixel doubling was not an option in that case, they compromised by simply letterboxing old applications – not the best solution, but still maintains a “native” resolution quality just like pixel doubling does. For these reasons, Apple won’t stray from the currently available aspect ratios, and I doubt they will utilize the iPhone 5’s. I applaud them on this as Android is terrible about stretching apps, which makes any videophile like myself absolutely cringe.

    What this means is the iPad mini will be either 1024×768 (like iPad 1 was), or 2048×1536 (iPad 3), which would not be a “slightly higher” resolution as you mentioned, it’s 4x the screen real estate. (“Pixel doubling” is actually a misnomer since when you double the resolution it actually means it now takes 4 pixels make up 1 of the old pixels.)

    Some might think retina resolution is either impossible or unnecessary on a smaller device since the iPad 3 is already beautiful, but if you do the math, you notice something interesting:

    At 7.8 inches, 1024×768 would be 163.06ppi. 2048×1536 would be 328.21ppi. Interestingly enough, these are almost identical to the ppi of the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4/4S respectively. Simply making a larger panel at the same ppi would give you your non-retina and retina displays for a 7.8″ iPad mini.

    That being said, either is entirely possible and would not be a significantly higher ppi than we’ve already seen in prior devices if they decide to go retina. However, since other 7″ tablets are hovering around $200, I think Apple will strive to hit this price point with the iPad Mini, which will probably mean no retina.. and lots of room for iPad Mini 2 upgrades.

    With this information, if there’s no retina, I’ll likely be waiting until 2013 :)

    • ReanimationXP

      I love that someone has downvoted this already without commenting. Probably didn’t even read it.

      • Kurt

        i read it and gave you two thumbs up.

      • ReanimationXP

        lol, thanks

    • http://twitter.com/samlikestoshoot boo

      I Sir, love your answer. I was screaming all the way through while reading the article. Oh and spare a thought for the designer as much as you do the developer Christian Zibreg. Mr. Zibreg, I have to design the same thing soooooo many times because of resolution changes in Android and the iPhone 5 did have a profound effect in application design which without any knowledge to base that argument on you made an uneducated opinion.

  • @dongiuj

    “apple would never make a smaller ipad”, “that’s not what apple would do”, “it’s not going to happen”. Where are these people now? Bwahaha~

    i hope they make this on par with the latest ipad. I don’t know if it’s possible if the price will be cheaper. Also i would love to see the carbon fiber that is rumored about apple using recently.

  • http://twitter.com/rickz97 Ricky

    It would be a mistake for apple

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    not having retina will be a backward move and i think that since the new ipod touch has retina so will the ipad mini.. apple already has all the part available.. just get some smaller ipad 3 quality screen use the A5X from the ipad 3 1 gig of ram and its al gravy