Retina iPad mini called 'Constrained!', 'Delayed!', just like clockwork

Pretty much on schedule, a major publication has claimed an unannounced Apple product to be 'constrained' and 'delayed'. This time it's the rumored Retina iPad mini, which Apple has been working on for some time, and which may or may not be released this October. Retina screens on new devices have always been challenging in terms of supply, but also in terms of powering the sheer number of pixels without destroying battery life. But these stories never seem grounded in reality as they do creating a stir in media and market. Reuters:

The reason behind the delays in manufacturing the retina display screens for the iPad Mini were unclear. One source at a supplier said there were delays in Apple's certification of panel producers, which were given strict power-saving requirements.

LG Display Co Ltd, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's display unit and Sharp Corp all vied to manufacture the panels, supply chain sources said.

The three display makers declined to comment.

Shocking.

Getting Retina display in the iPad mini is non-trivial. 2048x1536 at 7.9-inches is a lot of pixels, and getting it powered and lasting for 10-hours on a charge in a device that thin and light is non-trivial. Apple has been working on it for a long time. When they nail it, they'll announce it, and then they'll ship it precisely when they mean to. Just like always.

And then we can brace for iPhone 6 "constrained!", "delayed!" stories, right?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 27 comments. Add yours.

Lenin17301 says:

I think is more of an "I want it now" issue for me, than attacking Apple for supposed delays, at least that's my case.

nikkisharif says:

^this...I skipped the 1st mini for myself but bought 2 for my boys. Now I'm dying to unload my iPad 3 for a mini but I want the updated version!!!

Come on Apple...VÁMONOS!!! Lol

ZkiZZoiD says:

iPad mini with retina display, that would replace my ipad 4th gen..

Matt Bauman1 says:

Something can't be delayed if it was never announced to ship in the first place!

DeerSteak says:

I think that's the point of the article, but I also think that's probably not true. If such a device is planned (and I'm sure it is) then most likely there are internal deadlines that may or may not get met.

I'm ecstatic at the idea of an iPad Mini with an A6X (hopefully) and retina display (almost assuredly).

west3man says:

Wow. Same point I made to Rene via Twitter (re: internal).

I think it's no less fair to call it a "delayed" than to call it a "product," unannounced or otherwise, as we are talking about rumors, anyway.

Rumor suggests leak. A leak is, by-definition the internal becoming external.

mrobertson21 says:

weren't the publications right about the gold iPhone 5 supply (or lack of)? i think most people understand the concept that you guys wrote about before; "something that hasn't been announced can't be delayed". that's splitting hairs though, because we all know full well that any company has deadlines for product launches. the publications are clearly speculating based on internal goals. my 2 cents.

tlo07 says:

I'm hoping for a gold iPad mini with a retina display! Merry Christmas to me!

jwashok says:

Such media reports are based on the gross assumption that Apple lost the ability to plan ahead. Likely the same media that has previously reported how Tim Cook is a master at Operations, that the precision with which he built the manufacturing machine under Steve Jobs was a pristine model of efficiency and effectiveness. Yet, now he supposedly has no clue how to do the same?!?!?! Media sensationalism...that's all it is.

Apple likely has their product release timeline planned out for at least 3 years, if not 5 or more, and has backed into all the requirements that must be met between now and the many launch dates to be ready. They are surely not perfect, but I bet very little happens by accident or comes with surprise to the execs at Apple.

You don't get to the world's most valuable company, the best brand, and holding 10% of all corporate cash any other way.

joshrocker says:

With the release of the competitions small HD tablets, I'm having a harder time with the "non trivial" part.

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DeerSteak says:

The new Nexus 7 is slightly lower res but with similar PPI densities as a retina iPad Mini would have, and it can do 10 hours. Since the bigger display necessitates a bigger device, there's more room for a bigger battery. I agree with you - it's getting to be old hat for everyone else.

DrewBear says:

Rene answered this hypothetical a couple of months ago:
"...the Nexus 7 is a little thicker (though still light thanks to the plastic back), but more importantly, has only 3/4 of the amount of pixels an iPad mini Retina would need, and even then at only a fraction (who knows how much?) of the battery life. In other words, the Nexus 7 is thicker, has less pixels, and less battery life than a theoretical iPad mini Retina."
http://www.imore.com/if-nexus-7-can-have-retina-screen-tiny-tablet-why-c...

BTW, also from the above article: "...The Nexus 7 ...gets 9-hours of battery life - in airplane mode."

Recent reviews of the newest Kindles reveal similarly unacceptable (to iPad users) battery life if used normally as a tablet rather than just an e-reader.

DeerSteak says:

I'm aware, and it's pseudoscience. The new Nexus 7 is thinner than the old Nexus 7 which had half as many pixels and yet the battery life is largely the same. It's buried in here, but the 2013 Nexus 7 is 2mm thinner than the older one.

http://androidadvices.com/nexus-7-2012-vs-nexus-7-2013-specs-features-pr...

So let's take a look at batteries:

http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPad+mini+Wi-Fi+Teardown/11423/2 - Apple's 16.5Wh battery

http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Nexus+7+2nd+Generation+Teardown/16072/1 - Google's battery is 91% - 15Wh.

Add in that the 5.45Wh battery in the iPhone 5 gets similar battery life to the 7.65Wh battery of the Droid Razr M (similar screen sizes, the Droid has a slightly lower resolution) and I just don't buy this argument.
http://www.gsmarena.com/apple_iphone_5-review-822p3.php
http://www.gsmarena.com/motorola_droid_razr_m-review-815p2.php

Apple has been doing this for a long time, backlighting high density displays with LED matrices. They did it in the iPhone for not just with no noticeable loss in battery life, but actually the iPhone 4 had considerably better battery life compared to the 3GS. It doesn't matter how many pixels you're lighting. Read a little bit about LED backlight matrices and come back. It won't take 4x the power to light the screen. Marginal change at worst.

rogifan says:

Yep pretty much all the defenders have to hold on to at this point is volume. So their argument is Nexus and Kindle devices don't need the quantity of high res displays that iPad mini would.

Carioca32 says:

And just like clockwork we see iMores defensive and dismissive response, which just empowers the original article anyway. Reuters talked to sources in the supply chain, that's why they published the piece. Did iMore contacted someone to get an opposing view or did you just get upset because it mentions Apple in a non-ass kissing way?

BTW, I don't think designing and including anything on portable electronic device is trivial. We have never seen any Apple engineer saying that this is a particularly difficult problem, the posed extra difficulty is solely based on the assumption that Apple and its suppliers could not solve this problem last year and thus used a lower resolution screen, and not that it was a purely marketing decision.

DrewBear says:

Reuters also talked to "sources in the supply chain" when they started reporting way back in April 2013 that the rumored iPhone 5s would be delayed due to problems with manufacturing the rumored fingerprint sensor. They pushed that "report" for months until Apple sold 9 million iPhones (most of them the 5s) in 3 days.

Tim Cook recently chided a reporter about reading too much into alleged supply chain data leaks. Apple uses multiple sources for many components and can adjust quantities ordered from each supplier. Just because source A is not supplying the parts does not mean that source B has not been asked to supply those parts.

How many times does Reuters (or any other news outlet) have to get these predictions wrong before the blogosphere figures out that they're unreliable? Do you think Reuters will acknowledge their sources were wrong if Apple sells 5 million new iPads in the launch weekend later this month? Yeah, right.

Carioca32 says:

Reuters sources were not totally wrong. How many people left an Apple Store without a golden iPhone 5s because Apple did not have enough in stock for a proper launch?

DrewBear says:

9 million in 3 days is not a "proper launch"?! In any case, the Reuters story did not claim Apple would not have enough phones for launch weekend, it claimed that the launch would be delayed. Even if Apple had 10-15 million iPhones for launch weekend, it still would not have been enough to meet initial demand...and folks would have claimed that they failed to provide enough phones for a "proper launch". Basically, Apple fails regardless of how successful they are.

Note to iMore: email notification for new comments arrived 4 days later.

duncanator says:

Some might say that even after 6 years of retail data of iPhone sales, Apple would have figured out how much they need to make to satisfy demand. No one made them release an iPhone on the 20th so why couldn't they have waited another week or two so as to make sure they had enough to stock their stores? It seems to me that they knew what they were doing and almost purposely released it knowing there would not be enough to satisfy demand. They had to know how many they would sell because if they didn't, they're horrible at reading their historical retail data. One to four gold iPhones at major stores? That either on purpose or they're just incompetent.

Sure, you could just order it online and get it in two weeks so why didn't Apple just either wait two more weeks or allow pre-orders so they could gauge demand.

Solublepeter says:

If that were true, all the analysts would have been bang on with their estimates... funny how that didn't happen.

I'm curious how you manage to make a record-breaking weekend sound like a failure to plan.

DeerSteak says:

The point is "how much better could it have been?" and the answer is "as good as Apple wanted it to be"

Carioca32 says:

Ah, but there is nothing like being able to say that your products are flying off the shelves, running out in every store, breaking records. Its much better for marketing than having plentiful supplies.

Marko451 says:

From an unnamed source: iwatch gold is in short supply along with the gold iring. Will have to wait to obtain these accessories to the iphone/iTV/ipad/iMac.

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JeremieJones12 says:

I'm in the group that skipped mini 1 for a retina mini 2 to replace my iPad 3. Updated my iPhone 4S to iOS 7 and the battery drain was very significant. Just upgraded to the 5s and it's better but still a seeming drop off from iOS 6 battery consumption. I would like apple to actually go a lil thicker and increase battery size in these devices as they're plenty thin. Would also love a 5c plastic color option for the mini 2.

jakeless.123 says:

If we learned anything from the iPad 3, is that if the first iteration of the iPad Mini 2 follows suit, I'll wait for them to work out the Retina bugs in the iPad Mini 3, just like they did in the iPad 4.

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