iPad Mini

John Gruber:

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.

The 3.5-inch 480×320 display sports a resolution of 164.83 ppi. The 7.85-inch 1024×768 display is 163.06 ppi. Assuming the 3.5-inch display is actually more like 3.53 inches the resolution becomes closer to 163 ppi.

For the sake of argument let’s assume a resolution of 163 ppi for both displays. In that case both displays can be manufactured using the same design rules on the glass substrate and so it will be efficient and economical. However if you want to build millions of 7.85-inch LCDs it would most likely be on a larger fab than the one used for manufacturing the much smaller 3.5-inch LCDs.

Update 2012.07.10: John Gruber:

So maybe it’s the people who carry a big notebook who’ll be most tempted to get a smaller iPad, since they’re already carrying more weight.

I carry around a big notebook: a mid-2009 unibody 17-inch MacBook Pro with the non-matte high resolution display. I got the big notebook because I wanted and needed enough pixels to put up two pages side-by-side. Weight was not even a consideration.

And weight will not be much of a consideration when/if the smaller iPad comes out. I waited two years for the retina iPad. Rumor has it the iPad mini will have a pixel format of 1024×768. That right there is the problem for me, precisely because I’m a guy who values high-end displays. The 17-inch MacBook Pro up until the retina MacBook Pro was the only MacBook capable of displaying 1920×1200. The 9.7-inch retina display in the iPad (3) makes content absolutely beautiful.

The rumored iPad mini would have a display that’s less resolution (ppi) than the smaller iPhone and the larger iPad. The only display advantage would be a few more pixels (1024×768 vs. 960×640) and I don’t consider that much of an advantage since the resolution would be half: 163 ppi vs. 326 ppi.

Update 2012.10.31: Gruber reviews the iPad mini:

The non-retina resolution is the one and only significant complaint I have with the iPad Mini, and it’s an issue that is only apparent to those of us who already own a nearly-new iPad.

Or an iPhone 4/4S. He likes the size and weight so much he’s willing to switch from the iPad (3) to the iPad mini, despite the lack of a retina display. I don’t think I’d want to punish my eyes like that.

Update 2012.11.04: iFixit tore down the iPad mini. The LCD markings lacked model number and manufacturer, but the LCD display driver is a Samsung W1235 S6TNMR1X01 suggesting the LCD is also manufactured by Samsung.

Update 2012.11.05: Raymond Soneira:

The iPad mini is certainly a very capable small Tablet, but it does not follow in Apple’s tradition of providing the best display, or at least a great display – it has just a very capable display. What’s more, the displays on existing mini Tablets from Amazon and Google outperform the iPad mini in most of our Lab tests as documented below in the Shoot-Out Comparison Table. Some of this results from constraints within the iPad product line, and some to realistic constraints on display technology and costs, but much of it is due to a number of poor choices and compromises.

A bit surprising and quite disappointing. The lower resolution of 163 ppi is right around those of the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS. Simply terrible, but that’s not surprising; these are: higher reflectance than the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD (lower reflectance is better) and a smaller color gamut than the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. Compared to the other two the iPad mini managed to rank in the middle. Read on for Soneira’s thorough analysis of the iPad mini’s display.

Update 2012.11.06: Jacqui Cheng, Ars Technica:

What does this mean for reading? If you’re used to looking at a retina screen, which it turns out many Apple product users are, the differences will be noticeable. I really didn’t want this to be true when going into this review—I like my retina displays and all, but I also think they’re a hair overrated when it comes to everyday use—but I cannot tell a lie. When I was reading on the iPad mini, practically all I could see were jagged edges and pixels. It was distracting, particularly when I was really concentrating on the text, like when reading e-books or PDFs.

This is the main reason reason why I waited until the iPad (3) to get mine. I bought the first iPad, but returned it because it didn’t fit my workflow. Blogging apps were terrible back then. The iPad 2 had the same display as the original, but by then my eyes were used to looking at the iPhone 4. I, of course, passed on the iPad 2.

The lack of text smoothness, and occasional jagged edges, are just annoying enough to constantly pop out at you even after long periods of use. It may actually be the single limiting factor for many potential buyers.

Millions of us are used to retina displays and now Apple wants us to go back with the iPad mini. No thanks, I’ll wait for the retina iPad mini. If the recent pace of new introductions is any indication I won’t have to wait long.