iPad 2 rumor wars: 2048x1536 strikes back

TiPb iPad 2 Concept

It's getting downright silly, but Digitimes is now claiming iPad 2 will indeed have a 2048x1536 based on " upstream component makers". This follows Daring Fireball saying oh-no-it-wouldn't, MacRumors finding evidence it just might, Kevin Rose saying iPad 2 would be higher-res but not Retina Display and Engadget confirming the same (which TiPb found problematic for compatibility reasons), and 9to5Mac pointing to iPad 2 staying at the current 1024x768.

Confusing much?

Apple almost certainly has a 2048x1536 Retina Display iPad in the lab, perhaps they're even testing it for production runs. If they can deliver it along with 1 or 2 cameras, an Apple A5 chipset, and much more RAM and keep the same $499 entry level price point, perhaps we'll see it this year. If they can't then maybe we'll get the "backup" iPad 2 with the same 1024x768 display and Retina will be scheduled for iPad 3 in 2012. (They may even be testing a 1.25x and/or 1.5x "hi-res" display as well to see how current apps perform at <a href=""http://www.imore.com/2011/01/19/problem-2x-ipad-2-retina-display/">shrunken or stretched sizes, who know?)

Either way we'll probably keep hearing conflicting rumors until Apple calls an event and announces iPad 2.

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Rene Ritchie

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

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Reader comments

iPad 2 rumor wars: 2048x1536 strikes back

30 Comments

I am quite sure it's not going to have it. I am so sure that I am willing to pass on all other tablets and buy the iPad 2 if I am wrong.

Here is an idea, which I don't quite believe myself but am throwing it out there for discussion simply because I have not seen anybody else say it:
The upscaled assets that triggered the latest rounds of rumors are not for an iPad display at all, but to be used during AirPlay so the iPad can stream even apps at a higher resolutions than it is capable of displaying itself, i.e. driving Cinema Displays as well as just TVs.
Unlikely (and probably stupid), but not much more unlikely than Apple getting mass quantities of 2048x1536 scrreens completely cheaply and completely off the entire industry radar.

What the heck is an "upstream component makers"? Which will lead to the question, "what are downstream component makers?" I shan't guess.

Upstream component makers = manufacturers of bits that are required at a given point in the production chain. If Samsung is your screen maker, then Samsung is an upstream component maker for Apple (or Foxconn, or whomever assembles the ipad). Similarly, if FooCorp makes the glass for Samsung, then FooCorp is an upstream component maker for Samsung (and, indirectly, Apple). I guess Samsung could call Apple a "downstream component maker," but I'm pretty sure they'd rather just call them customers :)

The other way around -- an upstream component maker can be thought of as a sub, but the key point is that you rely on their output to do your work. You cannot do your job until theirs is finished. That is why they are "upstream" from you. Basically, replace "upstream component maker" with "supplier" and it all works out the same.
Examples:

  • Samsung could be an upstream component maker for Apple/Foxconn, because they make the screens that Apple needs to assemble the iPad.
  • Qualcomm is (will be) an upstream component maker for Apple, because they make (will make) the chips needed for the mobile radios.
  • Intel is an upstream component maker for Apple, because they make the chips for Macs.

As for downstream component maker, I was joking (and thought you were, too), in that I don't think there is any such thing.

I've been holding off on buying an iPad, not for a faster processor or cameras, but for a higher res screen. I'd even be willing to pay a premium for it. Maybe there will be an iPad and an iPad HD? Or maybe they will continue to produce and sell the original iPad, alongside iPad 2, for the next year.

I'm with you in that one. If it stays at current resolution I will wait for iPad 3 that is if I can resist getting the Xoom.

I think you're putting a little too much weight behind the argument that it is 2x resolution or the same because anything else would be too much trouble for developers.
Developers that have universal apps that run on iPods, iPhones, and iPad already have to deal with odd scaling factors between the current iPad and other devices.
A good developer/designer will create the original graphics in a higher resolution and scale down anyway or even use vector graphics for the source and render at the resolution required. So as long as Apple can get the automatic scaling looking acceptable for legacy apps I don't see the issue with a screen that has 1.5x or 1.3x the resolution of the current iPad.

It also depends on the definition of "Retina display." I don't know of an official definition, but I'd be guessing it's defined by the ppi (pixels per inch, 326 in iPhone 4's case), since Steve Jobs was talking quite a bit about how the pixel density was so high that the eye couldn't tell the difference between pixels, at 12 inches away if I remember right.
If you double the iPad's resolution however, you only end up with ~264ppi from what I've read, which might not classify it as a "Retina display." So Kevin Rose's (and others') claims that iPad 2 will be higher resolution but not Retina, can still be accurate if the screen doubles.

It depends on distance. Most people hold an iPad further away than an iPhone so the pixel density doesn't have to be as high for the same effect.

At least according to this (admittedly biased) source, the iPhone display does not even close to that effect of being indistinguishable to the human eye:
""So, if you hold an iPhone at the typical 12 inches from your eyes that [the max resolution of your retina] works out to 477 pixels per inch," Soneira added. "At 8 inches it's 716 ppi. You have to hold it out 18 inches before it falls to 318 ppi."
The analyst adds that the iPhone's display is "most likely the best mobile display in production," and I would enthusiastically agree, but the lesson, as always, is that marketing hype is just that -- hype, and reflects only the best spin on as little truth as the marketers can get away with.
http://bit.ly/eFJ5qd

No, I agree with both of you. I was just using the indistinguishable to the eye at distance X as a reasoning for basing the definition of Retina display as a certain number of ppi, rather than on simply doubling the previous amount of pixels. That or Apple might consider the Retina display an exclusive name to the iPhone 4 screen (unlikely).
Just my two cents, as I don't have an iPad and don't even plan on having one, so it doesn't really matter to me. iPad just isn't my cup of tea; although they are neat, I'm fine with the iPhone.

What if they use double the iPhones res and put that on the iPad? Doubling the iPhones (960x640) would make it 1920x1280. It would make cross platform apps easier to scale (iPhone 3GS=1x, iPhone 4=2x, iPad 2=4x, odd man would be original iPad), it would be the first tablet with full hd display (1920x1080), natively show 1080p content.

This could work, but I think the iPhone's 3x2 (1.5) aspect ratio would be a bit too tall or narrow in portrait mode when compared to the current 4x3 (1.33) aspect ratio of the iPad.
I'm hoping for 1920x1440 — but don't expect anything greater than 1280x960 (720p) this gen or maybe even next.

Doubt it would happen, but they should at least offer a high-res or retina display as an add on like 3G. I wouldn't mind paying an extra 100 (or so) for that screen. Because I've been waiting for this iPad, even though I got one for Xmas, but no high-res screen is just one more reason to wait for the next one.

Of course, I'm also still hoping for a 1280 x 853 (or thereabouts) upgrade for iPhone that can display, at a minimum, the same 1280x720 native resolution 720p video that iPhone 4's camera already shoots.
Of course, it's more likely and practical they just make the iPhone screen even taller (in portrait), up to 16x9, by reducing the bezel and size — or existence — of the home button and keep the width at 720 as any further dpi gain is really unnecessary.

In this discussion about keeping the prices low we forget that Apple often prices in tiers. With the iPhone, there is last year's model at a discount and this year's model at standard price. For Macs, there are the MacBook and the MacBook Pro.
Why not have three iPad tiers, since the iPad is more computer than PDA? I think there will be:
1) last year's model at an entry-level discount price,
2) this year's model with goodies and a 1024 screen at the standard price, and
3) an iPad Pro model with a 2048 screen at a premium price and limited availability.
This would handle all the rumors, wouldn't it?

@ Fernando - I think that might be what Apple is planning. They could give iPad the same horizontal pixel count as HDTV: 1920. HDTV's vertical pixel count is only 1080 whereas iPad's vertical pixel count would need to be 1440 to maintain the 4:3 aspect ratio. Voila: iPad HD at 1920x1440.
1920x1440 would be cheaper and more efficient than 2048x1536. And I suspect that shrinking down the 2048x1536 graphics to 1920x1440 will still look good. Far better than scaling up 1024x to 1920x. So maybe the 2048x graphics are Apple's way of future-proofing iOS against any foreseeable screen sizes.
Also, releasing an "iPad HD" with 1920 horizontal pixels would set the stage for either an Apple TV firmware update to 1080p (1920x1080) or a new hardware rev to Apple TV 3 with 1080p. And, extremely importantly, it would make it easy for developers to write apps for both iPad and Apple TV.
Of course, if shrinking 2048x1536 images down to 1920x1440 looks bad, then this all goes out the window...

@ sfwrtr - Agree. If Apple isn't planning to standardize on 1920 horizontal pixels for Apple TV and iPad, then the "Best" iPad at a premium price may be the only way to handle an expensive 2048x1536 screen. And I think 2048x is the best way to maintain their hardware technology lead.
No matter what Apple does at the high end of the iPad line, I think they should keep the low-end iPad 1 around at a lower price. That's the best way to beat down competitors who might be trying to undercut Apple's pricing. It should be possible for Apple to maintain high margins on the low-end iPad 1 even at a lower price, since they would be amortizing hardware design & development costs over 2 years instead of just one year.
Tough to be an iPad competitor these days. Apple maintains high margins at relatively low price points. You would need to either sell your pad at a loss or set your asking price above iPad. For a product that will instantly be seen as a "me too" copycat by the consumer market. Good luck with that.

This rumor is just as bad and tired of hearing just as the Vzn iPhone. Unless their is legitimate proof, lets ove on.

No way this could beat the Verizon iPhone rumors! That was an annual rite of passage for 4 years straight. This is barely a month old.

The 499$ price point is an assumption... sure, the iPad2 shouldn't be more expensive.
However, an iPad Pro could sell for double the price, and would open a number of great applications.

I think there won't be such vast resolution. iPad2 should be very powerfull to maintain this screen resolution. Instead of 10 hours of workin time it will be much more less, APPLE won't make such step. Difficult decision.