The Wall Street Journal is one of the most highly regarded newspapers in the world. Most of the time, whatever they print on their paper pages can be taken as credible, accurate and reliable. So when the WSJ starts weighing on, say, the latest Apple rumors, our ears perk up.
Earlier this morning, the WSJ published a new story confirming what Bloomberg published yesterday — Apple is scheduled to release an iPad “Mini” (in the 7″-8″ range) this fall. Both organizations cite various sources in the industry as well as Chinese parts suppliers, the latter of which are allegedly placing large orders for components that could very well be part of this smaller iPad. (For the record, both Bloomberg and the WSJ as well as many other credible news sources have posted similar content before. But now as we draw closer to the rumored fall release, the posts are increasing in number and detail.)
One of the WSJ’s sources said that the mini iPad, whatever size it is, won’t feature the “Retina Display” found on the current third-gen iPad, iPhone 4/4S or new Retina MacBook Pro.
Is this the tablet you’ve been waiting for?
For many people, the iPad and iOS ecosystem is a perfect combination save for the iPad’s 9.7″ screen size. Some people just won’t buy into an end-to-end ecosystem if they’re unhappy with the actual hardware. A smaller iPad is just the ticket, and will definitely cause Apple’s stranglehold on the tablet market to grow and their market share to (once again) climb as holdouts begin cashing in. That said, are rumors of a non-retina display dampening your excitement?
One thing we must also consider is that a smaller iPad int he 7″-8″ range will be sharper at the same resolution thanks to pixels being squished closer together. So it won’t be as bad as going from an iPad 3 to an iPad 1 or 2. Building on that, Daring Fireball’s Jonathan Gruber makes an interesting point:
Here’s the logic behind such a display. Displays aren’t manufactured at their finished size; rather, they’re made on big sheets, and then cut to size. I believe the iPad Mini (or whatever it’s going to be called) uses the same display as the iPhone 3GS. So instead of cutting these sheets into 3.5-inch 480?×?320 displays for the iPhone 3GS, they’ll cut them into 7.85-inch 1024?×?768 displays for the smaller iPad. Same exact display technology, though — display technology that Apple has been producing at scale ever since the original iPhone five years ago. These are displays Apple knows they can produce efficiently and in enormous quantities. All they have to do is cut them into bigger pieces.
And then for developers, the iPad Mini acts just like an iPad 1 or 2: same number of pixels, just a little smaller. It’s not a new target.
The real beauty is, as Gruber notes above, that developers don’t have to worry about another screen resolution (especially with the rumored change coming to the next-gen iPhone’s). All they have to do is create apps with the iPad 1 & 2 in mind and then do some quick eyeballing to make sure spacing and such on the mini iPad is adequate.
As tempting as a $200-$300 iPad mini would be, a non-retina display would seriously make us question opening up our wallet. After living with an iPhone 4/4S for almost 2 years now, the iPad 3 and now a Retina Macbook Pro, looking at the digital world on anything else is simply depressing and jarring, even if the sharpness is better thanks to the smaller display size. Would you do it?