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iPad mini to outsell iPad, get Retina Display? iPad to slenderize?

Rumor trifecta brightens fanbois' Fridays

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It was close. We Apple fanbois nearly had to endure an entire week without an iPad rumor, but as the week drew to a close those intrepid rumor-mongers at DigiTimes gifted us with two – in the same brief article, no less – and NPD Display Search added a third.

Rumor #1: According to the ocasionally accurate Taiwanese market watchers at DigiTimes, "backlighting industry sources" tell them that the next generation of the iPad mini will have an improved display resolution, and that "market observers" contend that, like its big brother the iPad proper, it will likely be upgraded to the high-resolution screen tech that Apple dubs a Retina Display.

DigiTimes says that the display will have a resolution of 2058-by-1536 pixels. Sharp-eyed Reg readers will no doubt notice that 2058 is a typo – but it's caused by DigiTimes fumbling fingers, not ours. Today's iPad mini has a resolution of 1024 by 768 at 163ppi; doubling that to Retina Display quality would result in a 2048-by-1536 resolution, just like the larger iPad. Of course.

Should the iPad mini reach that resolution, DigiTimes says, its pixel pitch would match that of the iPhone 5's 326ppi, tighter than the iPad's 264ppi.

Rumor #2: The same sources say that the next-generation iPad – iPad 5, if you will – will be lighter than its predecessors. This will be accomplished by reducing the LED backlighting of the display from two light bars to one.

Now you're asking, "An LED light bar can't be heavy enough to make a noticeable difference, right?" Well, yes – but halving the LED power suckage could allow Apple to reduce the size of the iPad's battery, a major part of the fondleslab's heft.

Of course, Apple could continue to use the same 3.7-volt, 43-watt-hour battery that's in the current model, and instruct its marketeers to tout increased battery life rather than lighter weight. Your guess is as good as ours – or DigiTimes' sources – but seeing as how the current iPad is an uncomfortably hefty 1.44 pounds without cellular connectivity and 1.46 pounds with (652g and 662g), we'd suggest that Cupertino take the Jenny Craig route.

Rumor #3: This final tidbit qualifies less as a rumor and more as an analysis based upon an industry study. According to NPD Display Search's snappily named "Quarterly Small/Medium Shipment and Forecast Report", Apple has requested that suppliers, well, supply over 12 million 7.85-inch XGA (1024-by-768) displays in the fourth quarter of this year to "fulfill the strong demand" for the iPad mini.

That's a lot of iPad minis. The bijou fondleslab's somewhat slow initial sales had prompted some analysts to predict that it wouldn't be as popular an item as its big brother, but NPD Display Search now predicts that it'll outsell the current iPad next year.

"In 2013, it is likely that Apple will adjust its product portfolio to meet the strong demand for the iPad mini," they write. "We believe that Apple is targeting total iPad shipments of 100 million in 2013, half accounted for by the iPad mini, and 40 million new iPad and 10 million iPad 2."

Of course, Apple is unlikely to go all the way through 2013 without introducing Yet Another iPad™. The original iPad shipped in March 2010, the iPad 2 in March 2011, the iPad 3 "The New iPad" in March 2012, and the current top-of-the line model this November. It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict that the yearly cadence will continue – perhaps with the introduction of that lighter iPad that DigiTimes' sources predicted in Rumor #2. ®

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