The retina iPad mini is the iPad mini but with a 7.9-inch 2048×1536 LCD. That’s four times the number of pixels compared to the non-retina iPad mini’s pixel format of 1024×768. The retina iPad mini’s resolution is 326 ppi, which is the same as the iPhone 4/4s and the iPhone 5/5c/5s. Compared to the regular iPad mini the retina version is slightly heavier and thicker but that’s a small price to pay for all those beautiful pixels, as long as those pixels are beautiful.
There are reports that the production shortages Apple is facing with the new Mini are the result of image retention (a.k.a. burn-in) problems with displays from Sharp. I canâ€™t speak to this issue in the large, but the model in my hands has no such problem. I tested it using Marco Armentâ€™s image retention test. Marco himself tested his own new iPad Mini the same way, however, and his device failed.
Iâ€™ve also seen reports of white-balance issue, or yellow-ish tinting, with the new Mini. To my eyes, colors are nearly identical between the Mini, the Air, and my iPhone 5S.
To my understanding there are two primary display suppliers to the retina iPad mini program: LG Display and Sharp. Sharp is supposedly manufacturing and supplying an LCD using IGZO technology. IGZO has three primary benefits over a-Si: thinner bezels, lower power consumption, and more precise touch operations. I’m guessing LTE versions of the retina iPad mini are more likely to use Sharp’s IGZO LCD because it requires more power.
According to those I’ve spoken to Sharp has been experiencing difficulty in maintaining high yields for its 7.9-inch 2048×1536 IGZO LCD. The most likely reason why some are experiencing display problems such as image retention, yellow banding, and stuck pixels is because Apple is pushing its suppliers—Sharp especially—as hard as possible to stock the popular retina iPad mini. This makes sense to me and is probably why Apple released the retina iPad mini quietly.
David Pogue also reviewed the retina iPad mini and the display on his review unit seems to have exhibited no quality issues. No quality issues on Gruber’s either. Of course Apple sent retina iPad minis with perfect displays to reviewers, but I wonder how widespread display quality problems are for the rest of us.