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Apple iPad Mini with 7.85 inch screen
Rumors of new, smaller 7.85" iPad intensify

By Rasmus Larsen (@flatpanels)
04 Jul 2012

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Before Apple launched iPad 3 it was reported that they were also working on a 7.85-inch iPad. The rumor is now intensifying. FlatpanelsHD takes a closer look at the rumor of a smaller display.

Smaller 7.85" iPad coming?

iPad 1 and iPad 2 were introduced with 1024x768 pixel resolution. The latest edition of the iPad quadrupled the pixel count and reached 2048x1536 pixels. However, the format (4:3) and the screen size (9.7 inches) has remained constant. That could change later this year.

Will Apple release an iPad Mini later this year
Will Apple release an iPad Mini later this year?

The rumor of a smaller iPad has flourished for some time, and yesterday Bloomberg reiterated that a smaller iPad will be out before the end of 2012. One claim that has been repeated numerous times is that it will hold a 7.85 inch display, based on IPS LCD technology and a resolution of 1024x768 pixels.

The three elements would make sense when compared to the previous and current iPad versions. The resolution is the same as in the iPad 1 and iPad 2 and half of that in the iPad 3. This will allow apps to run without requiring developers to make any changes.

The smaller screen is said to measure 7.85 inches, which corresponds to a screen diagonal of approximately 20 centimeters. For comparison the screen in the smaller iPad would then compare to the current iPad if you measure from the upper left corner to the bottom of the rightmost row of apps (when the iPad used in landscape mode). The pictures generated by the Apple community here should also give you a hint.

Will Apple release an iPad Mini later this year
Will Apple release an iPad Mini later this year?

But if the rumors are true, how will you experience the smaller screen? It can best be described as a being somewhere in between of the iPad 2 and the iPad 3. The format (4:3) is left unchanged, and if the IPS rumor is true, it will also feature the same color, contrast and response time characteristics. Pixel density – or detailing – would be 163 ppi and therefore higher than on iPad 1 and 2 (with a pixel density of 132 ppi) but not on par with iPad 3 (with a pixel density of 264 ppi). And thus, it will not qualify for Apple’s Retina category.

Is it plausible?

We now have some numbers on the table, so it is obviously interesting to see if it is even possible. We hear from our sources that several display manufacturers are in the race for production contracts, including LG, Sharp and AU Optronics. Surprisingly, Samsung has not been mentioned but that does not necessarily exclude them.

If the IPS technology is utilized, LG will undoubtedly be amongst the manufacturers since they own the IPS technology. However, it can also be produced under license at other factories (or as a variant not covered by LG’s patents), and it seems that Sharp will have an increased role in the production plans (this is obviously hard to confirm since the manufacturers refuse to share such details). We were unable to find any 7.85 inch screens in LG.Display’s screen overview but the screens found in Apple’s iPhones or iPads are not there either so that does not say much.

Will Apple release an iPad Mini later this year
Will Apple release an iPad Mini later this year?

When it comes to the technological aspects there are no real challenges. An IPS screen of this size and with the 1024x768 pixel resolution is easily produced today. Google’s Nexus 7, for example, has a very similar display panel.

The main question remains. What would a new, smaller iPad bring to the table that the current does not already offer? Price cannot be the decisive factor. We hear talk about it being positioned for other segments, in particular the mobile gaming segment and the education segment. We also hear chatter about it being a piece of Apple’s HDTV plans where it would serve as a kind of remote control / game controller with AirPlay.

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments below.


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