Of all the iPad mini's drawbacks, the 8-inch tablet's relatively steep price-point ($329) and glaring lack of a high-definition screen were far and away the biggest arguments against buying one. So it isn't entirely unexpected that Apple, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, is preparing an HD version, with an eye toward a fall release just before the holidays:
Apple is working with suppliers in Asia on its next iPad mini with a high-resolution "retina" display, unlike the current iPad mini that comes with a lower-resolution screen, the people said. The size of the new tablet will likely be the same as the current 7.9-inch model, which was released in November last year. Apple has also been contemplating multiple color back covers for the new tablet, they said. [Wall Street Journal]
Now, the report does note that Apple "routinely tests various designs and has been known to make changes late in the design process," so a high-definition iPad mini may not actually hit the market. And one of the juicier nuggets from the report is that at least a few of the high-def screens will be supplied by one of Apple's most formidable rivals: Samsung. (The other suppliers are said to be LG and Sharp.)
However, it's worth pointing out that the new version of Google's awesome Nexus 7 tablet was released just last week with an HD screen. Not only is it $100 cheaper than the iPad mini, but it's deservedly racking up rave reviews.
Mind you, bumping the iPad mini up to HD could come with tradeoffs. As TIME's Jared Newman notes, "It takes more power to handle all those pixels." A Retina-equipped mini will need a much better processor (A5X?) crammed into the tablet's smaller body, meaning reduced battery life. Or you could give its chassis an icky size-bump to squeeze in a larger power source.
And while an HD screen sounds like the most obvious upgrade the iPad mini could receive at this point, 9to5 Mac points to an iOS 7 SDK file that seems to allude to an iPad mini with a faster A6 processor, but no Retina. Obviously, that would be a much harder feature to sell to consumers, especially in light of the Nexus 7's turbo-charged upgrades.