Apple’s iPad mini and the cost of Retina display

“The iPad mini is a conflicted product,” Marco Arment blogs. “It’s much better than the iPad 3 and 4 to handle, carry, and hold up during use. It has the best external design of any iPad to date. It runs cooler than the iPad 3 or 4, it has almost the same battery life despite its much smaller size and weight, and it matches the iPad 2 and 3 in most performance benchmarks. It charges more quickly than the iPad 3 or 4, and it’s more versatile in charging, since it’s the first iPad able to charge at full speed from an “iPhone” AC adapter. The Smart Cover even sticks to the back better when it’s flipped around. And, of course, it’s much cheaper than the other iPads.”

“But the non-Retina screen is rough,” Arment writes. “If you’ve never used a Retina-screened device, you probably won’t care, but if you’ve been spoiled by Retina, you’ll notice the lack of it in the Mini almost every time you turn it on. I stop noticing after I start doing something with it, of course, but those first few seconds are a rough reminder every time.”

Arment writes, “A Retina screen at iPad resolution has a much higher cost than the price of the panel. I’m convinced that the other tradeoffs and costs are why the Mini doesn’t have a Retina screen. This isn’t theoretical: we can see the cost of Retina for ourselves with the iPads 3 and 4. The iPad 3 was the first Retina iPad and showed us the initial issues, and the iPad 4 shows us the best Retina iPad that Apple could ship with the technological improvements available since the iPad 3… That’s why we don’t have a Retina iPad Mini yet. It’s not only about price: it’s because the resulting product would suck in at least two other important ways.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

Related articles:
Why Apple couldn’t make the iPad mini with a Retina display – November 13, 2012
InfoWorld reviews Apple’s iPad mini: Far superior; outclasses Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 – November 6, 2012
Thurrott reviews Apple iPod touch and iPad mini: ‘demonstrably better than the competition; incredibly desirable tech devices’ – November 6, 2012
Ars Technica reviews Apple’s iPad mini: You’ll find yourself reaching for it over a full-sized iPad with Retina display – November 6, 2012
24 hours with Apple’s iPad mini: This is the real iPad – November 6, 2012
Why I just dumped my iPad 3 for iPad mini – November 5, 2012
DisplayMate: Apple’s iPad mini offers ‘just a very capable display’ – November 5, 2012
Apple’s iPad mini and ultra-mobile computing – November 5, 2012
Demand for Apple’s new iPad mini is huge – November 5, 2012
The Register reviews Apple’s iPad mini: ‘The tablet even Apple anti-fans won’t be able to leave alone’ – November 5, 2012
Apple sells three million iPads in three days; double previous first weekend sales – November 5, 2012
The Independent reviews Apple’s iPad mini: High-end gadget is worth the price – October 31, 2012
CNET reviews Apple’s iPad mini: The new standard for little-tablet design – October 31, 2012
NYT’s Pogue reviews Apple’s iPad mini: ‘All the iPad goodness in a more manageable size; it’s awesome’ – October 31, 2012
USA Today’s Baig reviews Apple’s iPad mini: ‘A splendid choice; terrific for reading, watching movies and playing games’ – October 31, 2012
Mossberg reviews Apple’s iPad mini: ‘An impressive feat; the perfect solution’ – October 31, 2012


    1. It will be interesting to see how many people will be upgrading their iPad 3 to the new Retina iPad Mini?
      It will also be interesting to see how many people will be upgrading their iPad Mini Non-Retina version for a Retina version?

  1. an entry level product not targeted to anyone who has every used a retina display need not have a retina display to be impressive – just a higher pixel density than the shitty PC laptop monitor or netbook that is about to go in the garbage.

  2. I too love almost everything about the mini, but the lack of a retina display is indeed rough. I find the difference to be evident no matter how long I use it. If Apple can find a way to produce a retina mini at same price, dimensions, weight, and battery life, the mini would be perfect. I imagine we will see a $329 retina mini next year with the current mini retained at $249.

    1. Go to the full site.. and you will immediately be able to tell the difference. Any full website for that matter. One thing I like about surfing on the ipad is that im not stuck with watered down mobile versions of websites.

      I checked a Mini out while at the AppleStore the other day. I thought the screen was fine until I tried to read on it. A little disappointing since a retina-like display would make the think damn near perfect. Even upping the ppi just a little would have made a huge difference.

  3. Oh get over it already, I have both retina and non retina, and it really depends on the webpage. Some look fabulous, some don’t. If it bothers you that much, stick to the retina. There are always tradeoffs, and after all, it is a 1st gen. device. My ebooks look fine on the mini, it serves its purpose well, retina or not.

  4. I’m purchasing as a moving map on my airplane panel; iPads of all flavors are a hit with pilots. I don’t anticipate that application will require the Retina resolution. If I’m wrong, I have a nephew graduating next spring – it’ll be his.

  5. Bullshit. Another armchair critic. Nobody, but nobody knows the cost but Apple. They did it in the iPhone they can do it here.

    I think it’s heat and battery life and Apple’s upgrade koolaid all mixed into a chaotic, at times idiotic post-Jobs Apple.

    If they wanted to do this they could have done it. MBP, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch… All Retina.

    It’s ridiculous it doesn’t have a Retina screen.

    Sorry guys, in this case the inmates are running the asylum, and I bet Phil Shiller is somehow involved.

    1. Does the mini really need it? NO. it is better resolution than the iPad was and allows developers to easily port their wares. The only way to easily port to a tiny Retina screen would be to put the same number of pixels as the iPad 4 and have super Retina resolution or go with the same pixels per inch as a Retina display and have the developers do a scale of 1.5 or so of the regular iPad resolution. Complicated enough?

  6. I’m still happy with the iPad 2 so the mini looks even better. I’m looking all around the place to pick up a mini before I leave next week for my next month-long business trip to Asia and I can’t find it *ANYWHERE*. I’ve been going to the local Apple Store every few days for the past week and no luck. Same at Best Buy…Amazing… I really do believe that the mini is a much bigger hit than anyone anticipated, including Apple.

      1. You meant 10am, correct? Or is this about ordering online to pick up the next day or something like that? Well, there’s an Apple Store just a few miles away so I’ll just keep dropping by. They said that they should be getting another shipment in today. I’ll just buy one upfront and pick it up later if that’s what it takes. You know how it goes: the harder it is to get, the more you want it…

        1. No, if I remember correctly, they have a sign in front that says “Place your reservation between 10PM and 4AM online and depending on stock, pick up the next day in the apple store.”
          I could be wrong on the exact syntax, but the time was right. Check it out or call your local apple store.

        2. Yes, you are correct about the 10pm reservation. I went to the Apple Store again and, of course, they didn’t have any in stock so I asked about making the reservation and one of the staff members showed me how it worked. I’m just going to go for it instead of stopping by every other day. They still had no idea on when the next shipment was coming in. Well, I have a week-and-a-half before departing for Asia. I’m sure I’ll be able to secure one before then. Thanks.

        3. It’s weird, my Uncle pre-ordered a mini for my Auntie’s 70th birthday and it still hasn’t arrived. I walked into my local Apple Store the day after the mini launched and they had every model in both colours in stock (Apple Store Liverpool, UK).

          I bought a 16GB mini that day then went back the following weekend to exchange it for a 64GB model – they still had every model in both colours in stock! So I decided to buy one for my Uncle and when his engraved one he pre-ordered for my Auntie eventually arrives I’ll return it for a full refund.

  7. What a hack writer and wishy washy trash article. (Well, MDNs summary anyway)

    The iPad mini is better for all of these reasons… BUT it doesn’t have a retina display, even though I already know a retina display would kill every single reason the iPad mini is better, I just want to hear myself talk…… blah blah blah…..

    The mini will get a retina when the battery, CPU power, and cost is right. If you really can’t live without a retina, or survive those first few tramatic non-retina moments, SHUTUP and get an iPad 3 or 4 Just that easy

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