iPad mini Why the mini isn't Retina

Discussion in 'iPad' started by GreatDrok, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #1
    Since it keeps coming up, here's what makes it a challenge to get a retina display into an iPad. The iPad 2 with the same resolution as the mini had a 25 Whr battery, the iPad 3 increased the battery to 43 Whr adding thickness because the retina display requires so much power to drive - denser pixels require more backlight and you're also moving four times as many which is why the iPad 3 had the A5X processor instead of the A5 the iPad 2 had. This produced a lot of heat. The A6X in the iPad 4 has reduced the heat somewhat but you're still looking at a lot of power. The A6 in the iPhone 5 isn't moving as many pixels and is in fact similar to the iPad mini as far as the number of pixels it moves.

    So, the crux of the matter is the battery in the mini is smaller than the iPad 2 at 16.5 Whr and yet still gets the same 10 hours running time as the big iPads because there is a smaller backlight and the die shrunk A5 CPU which allow for the smaller size. Sticking a retina display in, even with a die shrink of the A6X would still need a brighter backlight so looking at the move from iPad 2 to iPad 3 as an example, you went from 25 Whr to 43 Whr, gaining thickness in the process. A mini with retina could be expected to need close to double the battery capacity for retina too so you're going to need to fit a 30 Whr battery in the case which means a thicker and significantly heavier mini.

    The current mini is a marvel of miniaturisation and cost reduction, and that is why it isn't retina because to make it retina would require it to be substantially thicker, heavier, hotter and more costly at which point, why not just go for the full size iPad? Android devices are less constrained to screen resolutions so they can play with different sizes and ratios, but they pay the cost in app quality. The mini works perfectly with all iPad apps, and cost competitive with the android 7" tablets while actually having a better screen than the Nexus 7 for example.
     
  2. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    #2
    Umm, how much thicker is the iPhone 5 (with retina) over the iPhone 3GS (without retina)? Right.

    And while I don't like the Nexus 7, objectively the screen is so much better then mini.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
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    Location:
    New Zealand
    #3
    The iPhone 5 is bigger than a 3GS and more of the contents is battery. The other components shrunk and combined to allow the extra room. As for the nexus 7, we have one at work and side by side with the iPad mini shows the screen is superior on the mini. Colours on the nexus look washed out and it has poorer viewing angles.

    You can't fit a quart in a pint pot. The mini is almost all battery too and the limitations of battery technology mean that to be the size it is, the battery can't be big enough to support a retina display. Apple will be working to squeeze the necessary battery capacity into a mini form factor but there will be a cost in size and weight unless the rest of the components get shrunk almost to nothing. The time was right for a mini with the current resolution, but not for a retina mini. Apple could have waited another couple of years but then they wouldn't have had a device that could go head to head with the 7" cheapie tablets.
     
  4. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    #4
    The iPhone 5 is an ounce lighter then the 3GS. Q.E.D.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #5
    The battery in the 3GS was 4.51 Whr, the iPhone 5 is 5.45 Whr. The A6 is more energy efficient than the processor of the 3GS and they've also reduced power usage elsewhere, but they still need a bigger battery because retina requires more power despite there being years of technology development between them. Expect an iPad mini with retina when they've been able to increase the battery size at the expense of other components, and reduced the power requirements for the backlight.
     
  6. macrumors G3

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #6
    It requires far more power driving a iPad retina screen compared to an iPhone retina screen.
     
  7. macrumors 65816

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    By Grabthar's Hammer
    #7
    I'm noting this thread to pull out when we see the keynote in 2013 about the 'magical' new Mini with a Retina display.

    The most accurate point was cost. Apple knew they could throw a watered down Mini at the desired price point and sell millions....and come right back to the well next year to sell a bunch of Retina ones.

    As quickly as everybody decided 'light' was the highest priority, I'd be shocked if they don't refresh the iPad 2 into a super light version for the same IP2 price point.
     
  8. macrumors G3

    Kilamite

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #8
    So they can sell a new mini next year with retina and more folk will buy it.

    They shipped the redesigned MacBook Airs without a backlit keyboard for similar reasons.
     
  9. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2008
    #9
    The reason Apple products always seem so "magical" is because of all their defenders who go around convincing people that "If Apple didn't do it then it can't be done". But that's not true at all. Many times a product isn't top of the line because its a strategic way to sell more products. So this idea that "Retina is impossible in the Mini" is just silly because nobody here really knows what goes on in the labs. but what we do know is that IF a retina version comes out then it is enough to make many people buy the same product again.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    SnowLeopard OSX

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    Dec 5, 2012
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    #10
    Pretty insightful post. When, if ever, would you expect an iPad mini with retina display to be released by Apple, OP?
     
  11. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    #11
    How about the Nook HD? 7" screen, pretty small and lightweight with excellent resolution/PPI. Did I say $200? :)

    Why would Apple release a second Mini now when sales for the first seem to be excellent and they are almost always out of stock. Food for thought folks.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
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    New Zealand
    #12
    They've got to figure out how to pack the necessary computing and power into a mini sized chassis. The android tablets don't have to quadruple the number of pixels to increase PPI over the iPad mini since they can go to 1280x800 and 7" like the nexus 7 has, but to pack a retina screen into the 7.9 size the mini uses is a lot of pixels and it will still need as much power as the full size iPad since it would have the same number of pixels. Quite an ask with current chips and batteries. I would give it a least a year unless they can pull something special out of the bag. Maybe they'll relent on it being 4:3 and a multiple of the original iPad resolution and then they might be able to do it sooner.
     
  13. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    #13
    One of the best posts on MR in a while and I agree. And, apparently, AnandTech also agrees as they said about as much in their iPad mini review.

    What remains to be seen is how much more power efficient the IGZO displays are and whether they can get yield rates to an acceptable level to be able to implement those displays among all of their product lines. I think increased efficiencies in CPU will help, but the screen tech is the key factor.
     
  14. macrumors 68000

    WilliamLondon

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    #14
    Everyone who keeps harping on and on about the mini's magic and appeal being price is missing something huge -> those of us who would pay twice the price for the same form factor. People who think it's all about price need to understand that the form factor is the big thing in the mini, and Apple launched a product designed to appeal to *that* market, and Apple did a wonderful job (and at a lesser profit margin, according to them). It's all about the form factor, not the price, figure it out! It wasn't about the display, it was all about the form factor. Why are people being so thick about this, I can't understand it.
     
  15. syd430, Dec 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 24, 2012

    Guest

    #15
    Nothing really new in the OP's post. Just another armchair engineer basing their knowledge from the larger ipad.

    A hundred other armchair engineers in this forum have already made the same guesses, so why bother making a thread?

    Oh yeah, you are trying to justify why it was impossible to make it any other way but sub-par
     
  16. macrumors 603

    kas23

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    #16
    I fail to see where you accommodate for any of these power and space saving inclusions in a new Retina mini. Or, were the iPhone 4 and iPad 3 the only Apple products where would see such improvements. You are assuming the Mini will be stuck in 2011.

    In addition, I noticed the Sharp IGZO display, which is a company many people think Apple just bailed-out, has no place in your discussion either.
     
  17. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    #17
    Maybe so but I enjoyed reading this one more. :)

    This beats "my ipad mini is better than your larger ipad and vice versa" round and round this forum was going for awhile.
     
  18. macrumors 601

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #18
    Clearly when the iPad went retina, it got both thicker and heavier. Even the recent updated retina iPad is still thicker and heavier than the non-retina iPad 2. And since we are talking about a tablet, the iPad is a better example.
     
  19. macrumors 603

    kas23

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    #19
    Clearly, indeed. The iPad 3 ballooned a whole 50 grams to 650 g from 600 g. That's a wopping 8.3% increase in weight. It's thickness? 8.8 mm to 9.4 mm. 6.8%. I guess we don't have to worry about the weight and thickness "doubling" anymore. Clearly.
     
  20. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    #20
    Yup. It got heavier by about 3 tablespoons of water. An obvious back breaking weight increase for one of the most gorgeous screens money can buy. Wanna bet that the next version loses at least 3 tablespoons of water weight?
     
  21. macrumors 601

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #21
    I didn't say double. You guys are missing the point. I understand size and weight aren't important to YOU. When lightweight and portability are the most important points to OTHERS, then yes, 8% matters. The mistake everyone makes over and over again is to believe that the things most important to them must be the same things most important to everyone else too. It's only one step away from the people who think the Mini would never exist at all because the screen would be too small to be useful as a tablet.
     
  22. macrumors 603

    kas23

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    #22
    And what makes you think you're not doing the very same thing?
     
  23. macrumors 601

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #23
  24. macrumors 603

    kas23

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    #24
    I agree. You didn't. But "doubling" of the weight and thickness seem to be a very common anti-Retina argument here on MRs. It's right up there with the Death Committees of socialized medicine.
     
  25. macrumors 601

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #25
    I didn't say "double" because clearly it quadrupled. :p
     

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