'Backlighting Industry' Sources: Apple to Bump iPad mini Screen

The Apple Crystal BallApple is going to focus "mostly" on enhancing the resolution of the iPad mini for the net iteration of the device, according to DigiTimes. Citing unnamed sources in the "backlighting industry," the Taiwan-based newspaper said it wasn't yet clear if Apple would bump the iPad mini all the way to a Retina Display.

As we have noted in the past, DigiTimes has sources throughout the consumer electronics supply chain in Taiwan and China, and these leaks almost always have a foundation in actual products being made or tested by Apple.

The flip side of that coin is that DigiTimes, and even well-respected newspapers in the U.S. like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, often don't have the resources within Apple itself to know what are testing prototypes and what will end up being shipping products.

This particular story, however, has a solid foundation in "probable." The iPad mini has been quite popular, but Apple has received criticism for shipping the device with a 1024 x 768 resolution, well below the resolution of cheaper devices from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google.

The question is what resolution would Apple use? DigiTimes speculated 2058 x 1536, which is probably a typo for 2048 x 1536. That's double the resolution for both dimensions. It's also the same resolution as the iPad with Retina Display (iPad 4), but at even higher pixel density—326 PPI compared to the iPad 4's 264.

Apple could also decide to keep the same 264 PPI it uses for the larger iPad 4 to get something close to a 1600 x 1200 display for the iPad mini. While it would raise the bar for the 7-inch market, hold down costs, and allow for easier differentiation for iPad mini and iPad with Retina Display, it would also require developers to retool more than 200,000 apps to run natively on the new resolution.

There are pros and cons for both options, but it does seem likely to us that Apple will be increasing the resolution of the iPad mini in 2013. DigiTimes didn't offer a timeline for the change heralded by its sources.

For context, the 7-inch Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are both (currently) 1280 x 800, while the Barnes & Noble Nook HD is 1440 x 900.