7.85-inch iPad

via John Gruber. A.T. Faust III:

Apple will release a 7.85-inch tablet later this year. And yes, it’s going to be called the iPad mini. It may or may not have the “skinny” bezel everyone’s been talking about, but two things are crystal clear: It’ll sport a 163 PPI 1024 x 768 display, and lots of folks are going to buy it.

The 163 ppi is an interesting coincidence. But isn’t Apple moving toward Retina displays? The iPhone made the move, then the iPod touch, and now the iPad. I am unsure Apple would bring forth a new iPad with a lower resolution than all the other iOS devices. (And by resolution I am referring to its actual meaning: pixel density.)

Here’s The Macalope on the subject of a bigger iPhone, but I think the principle applies to the subject of a smaller iPad as well:

This screen size argument is just another instance of feature chasing. Saying “Other phones have it so Apple must ship one, too!” is just admitting “I have no idea how Apple designs products.”

Update 2012.04.16: Seth Weintraub, 9to5Mac:

The consensus is that Apple will use these to counter the mid-range tablet market that Amazon and others are now having some success in. The screen at 7.85 inches could hold the original iPad pixel dimensions and allow Apple to cut costs considerably.

Consensus? Consensus about a rumor? That’s funny. So with a 7.85-inch “iPad mini” Apple goes into defensive mode to counter Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Are the Kindle Touch and the Nook Tablet threats to the iPad? Possibly, but at this point sales numbers for the two ‘successful’ iPad alternatives seem toothless. If that’s the case, and I think that is the case, why would Apple add complexity to its product lineup, supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, etc. for something Steve Jobs declared DOA?

Besides a 7.85-inch 4:3 1024×768 LCD would sport a 163-ppi resolution. Assuming you’d hold this “iPad mini” at a distance somewhere in between the iPhone and the iPad, at around 14 inches, the resolution falls dramatically short of Retina class. This to me doesn’t sound right.

The new “iPad mini” will have a lower resolution than the older iPad (3). I don’t think Apple does things this way. A new product will always be better than an older product. But in this case the iPad mini isn’t merely slightly worse; it does not qualify as Retina and that’s terribly worse. This would run counter to my belief that Apple is speeding toward a future where all of its displays are Retina classified.

There could be a 7.85-inch product, a product that’s something else entirely. Something that’s not an iPhone or an iPad; something that’s translucent, flexible, something completely different. But regarding a 7.85-inch iPad mini? I don’t think it’s going to happen.