Retina Displays for 13-inch MacBook Pro Already in Production

13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro

Just a few months after the release of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, a Retina-quality display is scheduled to come to laptop line’s 13-inch model, CNET reported Sunday. Production of high resolution displays for a future 13-inch MacBook Pro has already begun, with signs pointing to a fall release.

NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim told CNET that Apple is planning for a 2560-by-1600 resolution display for the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Such a display would have fewer pixels than the current 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, which touts a 2880-by-1800 panel, but the smaller screen area on the 13-inch model will create a similar “Retina” effect. In fact, at 2560-by-1600, a future 13-inch MacBook Pro will have a slightly higher pixel density, 227 PPI, than its 15-inch sibling at 220 PPI.

Although Apple’s current 13-inch MacBook Air has the same screen size as the 13-inch Pro, Mr. Shim was confident that a Retina display will come to the Pro first. “The supply chain indications are that it’s for a MacBook Pro 13.3 — not a MacBook Air,” he told CNET.

The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is priced competitively compared to a similarly configured standard 15-inch Pro, but at a starting price of US$2,199 it is out of reach for mainstream laptop purchasers. A 13-inch model, presumably priced around $1500, would be far more attractive to budget-conscious consumers and spur the adoption of Retina-compatible applications.

Anticipating the greater demand for a cheaper Retina-equipped laptop, Mr. Shim says that Apple has expanded its production volume over that of the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. “With [the 15-inch model] it’s production of a few hundred thousand units versus one to two million for the [the 13-inch model],” he said.

Apple’s suppliers for the 13-inch Retina displays are reportedly Samsung, LG, and Sharp. It should be noted, however, that LG, one of the suppliers for the 15-inch Retina displays, experienced serious production issues in its first attempts at delivering the high resolution screens.

For several weeks after the launch of the 15-inch model, many users reported noticeable ghosting and image retention issues with their displays. Investigations into the issue revealed that only LG-sourced panels, and not those provided by Apple’s other supplier Samsung, exhibited the problem. More recent production runs from LG seem to have corrected the issue, but it is clear that Samsung was far more successful at producing issue-free displays the first time around.

Apple is already expected to have two product announcements in the coming months, one in September to introduce the next generation iPhone and iOS 6, and another in October to unveil a new iPod product line and the much-rumored “iPad mini.” It is unknown if Apple plans to hold yet another media event for a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro launch, or if it will follow its recent trend of downplaying Mac product introductions and simply introduce the product by silently updating its online store.