Rumours about next-generation products from Apple start to emerge hours after the company unveils its new devices. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the chatter about the future-gen iPad mini has already begun. Among the highlights of new device market observers note retina-class screen with high pixel per inch density as well as faster application processor with more advanced cores.
Many reviewers have noted that the display of Apple iPad mini is considerably worse in quality than that of the third and fourth-generation iPad 9.7” media tablets. Therefore, the most likely improvement that will occur to the 7.9” slate from Apple will face will be a different screen with considerably higher pixel density and resolution, which is exactly what a number of media outlets reported this week. While the improvement is very logical, it will not be easy to implement for many reasons.
Considering the fact that the current iPad mini has screen with 1024*768 resolution and 163ppi density, it is logical to expect Apple to double pixel density to 326ppi and quadruple resolution to 2048*1536 in order to bring quality of the iPad mini’s display in line with other tablets currently offered by the company. Such screen will be very hard to make and it will be rather expensive. It is illogical to expect Apple to utilize 4:3 screen with 1600*1200 or 1792*1344 resolutions to cut costs as it will be incompatible with software for iPad and iPad with retina screen tablets. Hence, it is nearly guaranteed that the future iPad mini will feature 7.9” display with 2048*1536 resolution.
In order to support such resolution and ensure rapid performance, Apple will need to utilize a high-end application processor with advanced graphics engine inside, such as Apple A5X (two ARM Cortex-A9 cores, four PowerVR SGX543MP4 GPU domains) or Apple A6X (two ARM Cortex-A15/Apple Swift cores, four PowerVR SGX 554MP4 GPU domains). Such chips are more expensive than the current A5 system-on-chip inside iPad mini. But more importantly, if they are installed into the mini tablets, they will blur the differences between the low-cost iPad mini ($329) and full-cost iPad ($499) to only the screen size.
According to analysts who performed teardown analysis of the iPad mini, while the media tablet clearly belongs to the premium market segments, it is full of compromises when it comes to technology inside in order to ensure proper margins. It remains to be seen whether Apple will be able to trim costs of retina-class displays and high-end SoCs so that to be able to integrate them into next-gen iPad mini.