iPad mini (flat, finger)

Apple is widely expected to do some major updating to its tablet line this fall. The latest reports allege that the company is going to give its 9.7-inch iPad a complete makeover, and squeeze a high resolution Retina display into its smaller sibling.

The latter scenario is particularly interesting, because screen resolution has been the one complaint users have had with the current iPad mini. But according to new data from iSuppli, consumers may end up paying more for the extra pixels…

 The Mac Observer shares the iSuppli report:

“According to iSuppli, the price of the 7.9-inch panel is around US$32/unit and the total material cost of entry-level iPad mini is around US$188/unit. 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, and therefore market observers believe the total cost for iPad mini will increase by more than 30% if it is equipped with the 7.9-inch Retina panel.”

The added $12 per unit means one of two things: Apple would have to 1. eat the extra costs, further knocking down its already-declining profit margins. Or 2. pass the extra costs onto consumers by raising the prices on all of the new iPad mini models.

It’s hard to recall a product, if there is one, that Apple raised the price on from one generation to the next. But a lot of people have done the math on this rumored Retina display mini, and it just doesn’t seem possible for Apple to keep its $329 price tag.

Of course, the Retina iPad mini itself doesn’t seem possible. The tablet is just 0.28 inches (7.2 mm) thick and weighs 0.69 pounds (312 g). Apple would need to drastically change its display tech (see IGZO, OLED, etc.), among other things, to make it work.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll get answers to any of these questions until October. That’s when Apple is expected unveil the new mini, alongside a redesigned iPad 5. But with the 7.9-inch tablet quickly becoming one of the company’s most popular products, expect to hear a lot more about it between now and then.

What do you think, would you pay more for an iPad mini with Retina display? And if so, how much more? $25? $50?