Unlike the iPhone, or the bigger iPad, you can see pixels on the iPad Mini. (Pixels create the little jagged edges on text and pictures.) The other gadgets have a "Retina" display, which is a super high resolution display that shows no pixels.
The iPad Mini is going to get its Retina display in the second half of the year, according to NPD analyst Richard Shim.
He tells us that his supply chain checks say Apple should start mass production of an iPad Mini with Retina in the third quarter of this year. He doesn't have a launch date, or price, or anything else.
Interestingly, his checks tell him Apple is going to stick with the processor that's in the current generation of the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini has an "A5" chip, which is the chip Apple used in the iPhone 42S, iPad 2, and orginal iPad Mini.
He didn't have any answer about why Apple would stick with the A5. Considering it will be a two-year-old chip, it's surprising to think Apple would stick with it.
Shim says this older chip is going to have to "light up twice as many pixels" for the Retina iPad Mini, "so, you figure there would be some challenges in terms of battery life and performance."
Whatever the case may be, Shim doesn't expect Apple to stick with A5 in the Mini for long.
He says his supply chain checks tell him Apple is going to produce the next generation of the iPad Mini in the first quarter of 2014. So, that would be the third version of the iPad Mini.
The third iPad Mini will have an updated processor and a Retina display.
As with any Apple rumor, especially one based on supply chain checks, you should be skeptical. Apple uses a variety of supply chain partners, and the information could be wrong, or misleading.
Further, there was talk at the end of last year that a Retina iPad Mini might not be feasible.
Anand Lal Shimpi and Vivek Gowri wrote that Apple would need a bigger battery or faster chip. Since Shim says he's not hearing about a change in the chip, it would mean Apple needs a bigger battery. A bigger battery means a heavier, bulkier tablet, which seems unlikely.
So, what's the takeaway here? Honestly, we're not sure.
This is the first puff of smoke we've seen on a Retina iPad Mini in the fall. If we see more and more smoke, then we're going to say fire is coming.
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