The Next iPad Mini: You Want Retina with That?
The Wall Street Journal reports that the next iPad mini will ship with a Retina display. But, 9to5Mac's analysis of the iOS 7 beta suggests an iPad mini with no Retina display.
Thu, August 01, 2013
So that's settled, then. The next iPad mini will and will not have a Retina display.
Actually, that's a pretty reasonable theory. Apple could--and might--sell both iPad minis with and without Retina displays. There's at least some precedent there: Apple sold the non-Retina iPhone 3GS alongside Retina iPhones for a couple years. And, of course, it sells the Retina-less iPad 2 (and the current, non-Retina iPad mini) right next to the Retina-toting fourth-generation iPad. It wouldn't be crazy for Apple to manufacture some new iPad minis with and some without.
Retina displays, of course, cost more money on both sides: They're more expensive for Apple to manufacture, and thus they're more expensive for consumers to buy.
I wouldn't be shocked if Apple kept only the iPad mini line's current display for another year, whenever the new model of Apple's smaller tablet gets released. I would, however, be astonished if Apple switched to an iPad mini with Retina display as the only new iPad mini model. Why? Because I think most customers don't care about Retina displays. And I think most customers do care about price.
My eyes, my eyes
When Apple bandies about the marketing term Retina display, it's effectively saying that if you have average vision and you use the device in question at a normal viewing distance, you shouldn't be able to discern any individual pixels. (Some experts challenge those claims, though they still acknowledge that it's far harder to spot pixels in Retina displays than in non-Retina displays.)
But here's the thing: In my experience, many normal users don't really appreciate the crisper display that Retina screens offer. Shuffle a few iPhones in front of my parents, my wife, or various non-tech writer friends of mine, and they can't identify which ones are Retina.
And now here comes a sincere admission of my own: While I can tell the difference, I really don't care much. Yes, I think my third-generation iPad's display looks incredibly sharp when I'm using it, but that doesn't make my iPad mini look bad to me--unless it's in direct comparison. That is, when I place the tablets side by side, I can see that the iPad mini's display looks less crisp. To my untrained eyes, though, it doesn't look dramatically less crisp, and I don't notice the lack of Retina at all when I'm using the iPad mini without a Retina iPad nearby.