As Apple misses a beat, Amazon is Retina-fying Kindle lineup

Kindle Fire HD (two up, front, portrat, landscape)

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s Google event which saw, among other goodies, introduction of the second-generation Nexus 7 tablet with an improved 1,920-by-1,200 screen, the Kindle maker Amazon is now said to be refreshing its Fire tablet family around higher-resolution displays, too.

And as Apple and its Asian suppliers scramble to solve manufacturing challenges that continue to plague a second-generation iPad mini, Amazon’s top-of-the-line Kindle reportedly features a significantly overhauled display that packs 30 percent more pixels than the Retina iPad, into a smaller 8.9-inch screen compared to Apple’s 9.7-inch device. Ouch!

BGR has learned exclusive details about the forthcoming Kindle devices.

Amazon’s current $159 entry-level seven-incher will be improved with a new panel sporting a higher resolution of 1,280-by-800 pixels. That’s the same pixel count as on the Kindle Fire HD and a marked improvement over the device’s current 1,024-by-600 screen.

As for the seven-inch Kindle Fire HD, its current 1,280-by-800 panel will be bumped up to a full HD-friendly 1,920-by-1,200 pixel variant.

Finally, here’s what to expect from the top-of-the-line 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD model:

The third and final piece of the Kindle Fire tablet puzzle in 2013 is an upgraded version of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.

The current 8.9-inch model already features a display with a better-than-1080p resolution at 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, but the updated version will bump up the pixel count to 2,560 x 1,600, according to our source.

Apple won’t like that Amazon could beat its bigger Retina iPad with a smaller and more affordable device. Oh, and it surely won’t hurt that Amazon operates an entertainment and content ecosystem that in many aspects matches iTunes.

Design-wise, the new Kindle Fire HD series will feature a chiseled look with “a more angular design with a flat slope out to the edges instead of a curved slope, and corners that aren’t as rounded”.

The upgraded Kindle devices are said to debut “in the coming months”, if sources who spoke to writer Zach Epstein can be trusted. By the way, Amazon’s Kindle Fire was the second-most used tablet brand between June 15 and June 21, 2013.

Google has already beaten Apple to market with its just announced, better-than-full-HD $229 seven-inch Nexus. With that in mind, should Amazon deliver Retina-fied Fires ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season, it will steal market share from the iPad and hurt Apple’s bottom line.

Meanwhile, Apple is thought to adopt a new touchscreen tech for the next iPad mini.

However, its suppliers are reportedly unable to resolve panel yield issues and engineering challenges (power and CPU/GPU requirements) related to driving four times the pixels on a 7.9-inch canvas.

iPad mini (three-up, front, back, profile, black)

Last we heard, Apple has ostensibly returned to Samsung Display for low-power Retina screens for the iPad mini 2 because current supplier AU Optronics couldn’t deliver. According to the rumor-mill whispers (and reliable analyst), those difficulties have pushed back a Retina iPad mini until April of next year.

The company may appease to impatient customers by releasing a slightly cheaper iPad mini variant this year, featuring the same A5 chip a the current model.

Unfortunately, that may not be enough to capture power users who are in the market for a high-resolution tweener tablet with the latest and greatest CPU/GPU combo.

Your move, Apple.

Pictured at the top: Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD tablet.