The iPad mini has proved hugely popular, and all despite former Apple CEO Steve Job's 2010 claim that tablets smaller than the full-size iPad 5 don't offer the full tabular experience. But is it worth waiting for the iPad mini 2 rather than buying one now?
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The current iPad mini is so popular that production of the 9.7-inch screen of the iPad 4 has reportedly stepped down a gear. iPad mini popularity isn't down to technological superiority, either. The screen, processor and RAM are significantly worse in the iPad mini than its brother – one of the few parts that matches the iPad 4 is one we don't care a great deal about, the camera array.
Apple is set to solve a few of these inadequacies in the iPad mini 2. And some say its release date could be as soon as March 2013. However, there's a chance that the mini series might “jump the shark” as soon as episode two.
It's all down to the requirements of what is a dead-cert upgrade. The iPad mini 2 is highly likely to feature a Retina display screen.
A KGI Securities analyst writes that the iPad mini 2 will have a resolution the same as the iPad 4 – 2,048 x 1,536. This will give it significantly higher pixel density than the 9.7-inch iPad 4, close to the iPhone 5's pixel density at 324dpi.
We would love to see this upgrade applied. Although the iPad mini has a significantly sharper screen than the iPad 2, you can still see the granularity that comes with fairly low pixel density in text. However, the move comes with significant technological hurdles to surmount.
The easiest way to illustrate this is to look back to the transition between the iPad 2 and the iPad 3. This was the moment when the 9.7-inch model took the giant leap to Retina.
It came with a significant cost, and not one of coin. The iPad 3 was roughly 50g heavier, and a shade under a millimetre thicker. It may not sound like a lot, but it makes a difference in a tablet.
Such an increase would be even more of a blow for the iPad mini 2, whose key allure is that it's slim and light enough to carry without getting forearms on your forearms. A Retina display iPad mini 2 could need a battery as larger as 8,000mAh, almost twice the size of the first mini's unit.
An IGZO Future?
However, there is a saviour around the corner. At CES 2013, Sharp talked openly about a technology we've heard about on the grapevine for a year or so now. IGZO is a type of display designed for high pixel density and low power consumption, and it may feature in the iPad mini 2.
The key to the battery-saving tech is that unlike the iPad mini's IPS screen, it doesn't fully refresh dozens of times a second. It only rapid-refreshes when there's movement on-screen. Sharp says that in a phone it'll up stamina from the smartphone-standard one day length to two.
This should limit the size of battery the iPad mini 2 needs – but there's still a lingering question of real-life usage. If it drains at a “normal rate” when rendering animation, won't games drain the second-gen dinky tablet in no time?
Also, Sharp says that it'll be a while before IGZO smartphones arrive in the US – as reported by TomsHardware. Could this also mean the IGZO-sporting iPad mini won't arrive until the third-generation model? Even if an IGZO iPad mini 2 arrives in just a couple of months, it wouldn't be the first tablet-like device to feature one. The Asus Padfone 2 quietly slipped in sporting IGZO last year. But the no-one bought one of those.
We're going to erect a fence to lean on. If the iPad mini 2 offers battery-saving IGZO tech, it'll be worth the wait even if its new tech bumps the price up to, say, £299 for an entry-level 16GB model.
If it pulls an iPad 3 and bulks-up for the sake of the battery needed to power a Retina display screen, Apple may be cradling a dud. At the time of writing, I have an iPad mini waiting in my virtual basket at a well-known supermarket's site, just willing me to hit the checkout button. Should I? Let us know what you think the iPad mini 2 will offer in the comments.
Can't wait for the iPad mini 2? Then check out our video review of the iPad mini: