Does the next iPad Mini need a Retina display?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| August 15, 2013

While the next iPhone is one of the most talked about new devices coming out this year, and there's rightfully plenty of attention being placed upon it, there's another Apple-branded device that's getting plenty of its own attention long before it's officially unveiled. Apple's "small tablet," the iPad Mini, will probably see its own event in October, long after the dust has settled on the new iPhone. And, at that event, we'll see just how much the iPad Mini has evolved in the year that the device has been available for purchase.

As it stands right now, there's a lot of room for improvement with the iPad Mini. Even when it launched last year, the Mini was labeled as  "cheap" product (despite its premium price tag, mind you) due to its display. The iPad Mini measures in at 7.9-inches, and the current model has a resolution set at 768x1024. The pixel per inch count is around 162. And, basically, it's not very good.

It's especially bad if you're a pixel junky.

The rest of the specifications on the iPad Mini are really just like the iPhone: Good enough for the device, and not necessarily meant to compete directly with the rest of the market. The Mini has a dual-core processor, Apple's "A5," and it's clocked at about 1GHz. There's a 5MP camera on the back, and a 1.2MP front-facing shooter for good measure.

As far as I'm concerned, the specs inside the iPad Mini are good enough for the tablet. It plays the games it needs to without effort, and there's no discernible lag or hiccups. Switching between apps is just as quick as it is on the iPhones, or  the full-sized iPad. And it's the right size for a tablet, in my opinion.

But, that display. I am admittedly a pixel junky. I tend to stay away from displays that I can see "dots," especially in text. And when something looks just that much "faded" due to the pixelation, it bothers me to no end. And yes, I know that this is just a response because I've seen better displays, like Apple's Retina and the 1080p HD panels running around. But there's nothing I can do about that. I've seen better, and now those pixels just get under my skin. Or, under my eyeballs, I guess.

In any event, we know that the successor to the original iPad Mini is right around the corner, and so we've been hearing all sorts of rumor and speculation about the device over the last few months. Interestingly enough, word on whether or not Apple would be building an iPad Mini 2 with a Retina display has been pretty back-and-forth. It started that they would, and then it started to look like they weren't actually going to give the smaller tablet the upgraded display so many people think it deserves.

And then Google beat them to the punch, thanks to help from ASUS. The Nexus 7 (2013) is a 7-inch tablet with a ridiculously nice screen. It has a resolution of 1200x1900, and the pixel per inch count rests around 323. On paper, it's impressive, but it's honestly something you've got to look at to really appreciate. It's amazing to see a tablet of that size with a screen like that. You want to use the tablet, because looking at things is amazing. Funny how that works.

So, Google beat Apple to the punch. But, if you were watching the rumors and speculation, then you started to notice that maybe, just maybe, Google also forced Apple's hand. Because while iPad Mini rumors were starting to focus on a new tablet without a Retina display, the new Nexus 7 launched. And now? Now we can't stop hearing about an iPad Mini with a Retina display. It's become the standard rumor, which probably means it will turn out to be true.

As far as I'm concerned, it has to turn out to be true. Google's new Nexus 7 made it so.

I've got an iPad Mini, but I don't use it as much because I don't like looking at the display for more than a few minutes. However, my daughters love playing their games on it, so that's why I've kept it. I've obviously thought about getting the next iPad Mini, but I won't give it a second thought if it doesn't have a Retina display. It won't matter what improvements Apple makes under the hood. If the new iPad Mini doesn't flaunt an amazing display, I won't bite.

But, what about you? Do you plan on buying a new iPad Mini when it launches later this year? Will you even consider it if the device doesn't have a better display? Or are you happy with another tablet you bought this year, and don't plan on giving the new small tablet from Apple a second look? Let me know!