Supply chain chatter points to Retina iPad mini debut in second half of 2013

iPad mini (flat, finger)

I have to admit, it feels kind of weird that we’re in the middle of March and there’s been no word of new iPads. I know, Apple just released two new ones back in October. But still, there’s been an iPad event in the first quarter of every year for the past three years.

We’ve heard plenty of rumors though. There’s been a lot of talk of the 5th-gen iPad getting a design makeover, and Apple’s widely believed to give the mini a Retina display. And according to a new report, we can expect the latter in the second half of this year…

CNET spoke with Paul Semenza, an analyst for the highly-regarded market research firm DisplaySearch about the tablet:

“An iPad Mini with an upgraded display could appear later in the third quarter or fourth quarter, while a very-high-resolution Nexus 7 may be more imminent, according to DisplaySearch.

“We’re seeing potential in the third quarter of panel production for a higher-resolution iPad Mini,” DisplaySearch analyst Paul Semenza told CNET today. “When would the Mini be available? Could be third quarter or fourth quarter,” he said, adding that the speculation is DisplaySearch’s best guess based on supply chain data.”

Semenza goes on to say that DisplaySearch’s data shows an iPad mini display with 2048 x 1536 resolution, noting “that’s the typical step up when you go to Retina.” And he’s right, such a move would prevent fragmentation since the larger iPad has the same screen.

We’ve heard several reports now calling for an iPad mini with Retina display this year, but most critics remain unconvinced. It’s believed that something—size, price, battery life—would have to give in order for Apple to squeeze that kind of tech into the tiny tablet.

But the analyst sounds fairly confident in his intel, and says LG Display, AUO, Japan Display and Sharp are all candidates to make the high-res panel. It seems like he favors Japan Display though, “they’re very strong in technologies that allow very high resolution.”

Most of the chatter regarding the next-gen iPad mini points to a fall release. But outside of the Retina display talk, not much else is known about the tablet. That may be all it needs though, as screen resolution is one of the only complaints users have had with the device.