With the successful iPhone 5 launch now behind us, the rumor-mill has turned its attention to another looming Apple product: a smaller, lighter, sexier and more affordable mini iPad. The obligatory people with knowledge of the situation are dutifully churning out speculative reports on a daily basis (iDB typically brings you a smaller selection of stories we think are worth your attention).
As various plugged-in sources have increasingly been leaking alleged parts left and right, we’ve come to the point where one could pretty accurately predict the form factor (a 7.85-inch display), the design (think slick) and how much it’s gonna cost ($249-$299).
That being said, the biggest unknown of a mass market iPad remains a screen resolution and to many early adopters this is the sole determining factor in the purchase decision process…
According to Apple, a display can be filed as Retina when the human eye is unable to discern the individual pixels. In the case of iPhones, which are typically held at ten inches away, this means at least 320 pixels per inch.
For the iPad, Retina means at least 264 pixels per inch because a 9.7-inch device is typically operated at 15 inches away.
A 7.85-inch iPad mini would be comfortably held somewhere between 10 and 15 inches away. Consequentially, for its display to class as Retina it’d have have to sit somewhere in between the 2,048-by-1,536 Retina display on the third-gen iPad and the iPad 2’s 1024-by-768 non-Retina display.
Another important piece of the puzzle to factor in: a chip powering the iPad mini.
iPad mini renditions by designer Martin Hajek.
Past rumors largely suggested Apple could re-use the iPad 2 components, including its A4 processor. If true, a Retina iPad mini is out of the question as the A4 package lacks the oomph needed to comfortably drive anything beyond the 1024-by-768 pixel resolution (yes, Retina is taxing on the CPU/GPU)
Plus, the A4 is outdated.
Perhaps Apple will re-use the A5X chip powering the iPad 3 and its massive Retina display? Or, why not take advantage of the powerful new A6 silicon that made a debut on the iPhone 5, or a variant of it (A6X?).
The truth is, we simply don’t know and can only speculate at this point.
I do this for a living so I’m gonna buy the iPad mini no matter what.
But what about folks who are sold on the idea of a smaller, nicer-looking iPad that won’t burn a hole through their pocket?
If you’re in the target demographic, there’s a high likelihood you already got rid of your iPad 2 or are planning to do so.
Which brings me to my question of the day: would you buy the iPad mini provided the price is right and it looks nice, but has a screen that does not class as Retina-quality?
In other words, is a non-Retina iPad mini a deal breaker to you?
Cast your vote now.
Of course, you’re free to post your observations on the topic in the comments.
Before I sign off, let me say I’d be very surprised if Apple brought a non-Retina iPad mini to the market as the company’s evidently in the process of upgrading its entire lineup around Retina displays, slowly but surely.
Plus, Retina has become a key hardware feature prominently featured in Apple’s advertising.
A mass market device like the iPad mini (it’s gonna change everything all over again) needs Retina to destroy the Nexuses and Kindles of this world.
Then again, there’s always a second-generation iPad mini.
Don’t worry, the truth is around the corner.
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