Apple, according to a new supply chain report out of Asia, has placed orders with LG Display and Japan Display for high-resolution Retina screens for a second-generation iPad mini. Japan Display is a merger of the mobile display operations of Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba, in conjunction with the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. Now, LG Display and AU Optronics both currently supply 1,024-by-768 panels for the iPad mini, and iDB last week heard the latter has already started mass producing Retina panels for the second-generation iPad mini.
With LG Display and Japan Display now reportedly having been added to the mix – and with leaks like this purported back shell – all signs point to Apple lining up its suppliers ahead of manufacturing, usually a tell-tale sign that the official announcement is around the corner. And if the iPad mini 2 is in fact looming, we’re probably looking at a summer launch at WWDC…
A report by the Seoul-based online publication ETNews (translated to English by financial service BrightWire), Apple has ordered Retina-class 7.9-inch LCD panels from its suppliers, including LG Display and Japan Display.
While the story specifically describes these 7.9-inch panels as having the 2,048-by-1,536 pixel resolution (matching the full-size Retina iPad), the reported 400 pixels per inch claim doesn’t jive well with a previous rumor calling for the 326ppi panel.
The purported iPad mini 2 back shell, via a Chinese forum.
ETNews speculates the newly ordered panels could be for the third-generation iPad mini, but it’s unclear why the company would order screens for both iPad mini 2 and 3 simultaneously. Perhaps the 326ppi panel is for the iPad mini 2 and the 400ppi one for a rumored Apple phablet or a brand new form-factor iOS device.
So, when should the new Retina iPad mini be expected?
If you ask Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White, these upcoming iPads – both the iPad mini 2 and iPad 5 – are due next month. His peer over at KGI Securities, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, is calling for a Fall launch, per his latest Apple roadmap estimate depicted below.
Apple typically announces new iPads during the first quarter. The firm, however, broke that tradition by releasing the iPad 4 alongside the iPad mini in September 2012, just six months after the third-generation iPad went on sale.
Should the semi-annual refresh pattern hold, both the iPad mini and its bigger brother could be ripe for a March refresh, meaning Apple could be sending out the invites sooner than later.
Faster innards and a Retina upgrade should make the iPad mini 2 a compelling buy, no?