On the iPad 2

Everybody these days is chatting about the forthcoming iPad 2. In particular, people are wondering whether it will have a new higher resolution display. There seems to be three classes of people.

  1. The ones who say no.

  2. The ones who say yes, it will have a 2048x1536 screen (four times as many pixels, doubling the pixels in both dimensions)

  3. And finally the ones who say yes, it will have a higher resolution, but the number of pixels will not be doubled.

The guys from the second group were initially supported (tenuously, perhaps) by Engadget. The tech blog heard from a trusted source that the next iPad will indeed have a higher resolution. Since the only way to prevent anti-aliasing1 is to double the resolution, the rumors of a “Retina” display started. This way the iPad would inherit the gorgeous screen from the iPhone 4, making the individual pixels invisible from the distance at which we use our devices.

But then people from the third group announced “Hey, that’s not gonna happen, because RAM and GPU needed to support such a display are too pricey.” Therefore, since Engadget source didn’t say retina, the guys from the third group started with “It will have a higher resolution, like 25 or 50% more”. At this point, Apple prophet John Gruber also said no retina.2

But he also said that it will be either the same, or nothing. He bet on the same resolution. I tend to believe him, but I’ll come back to that later.

The saga doesn’t finish here though. Someone found 2048x1536 px images in the iBooks bundle in the iOS 4.3 beta. The retina display crowd (our second group) was, of course, very happy. John the prophet at that point, having heard enough of these rumors about the tablet, clearly said that was an oversight by a designer who knew who eventually the iPad will go Retina.

So who’s right? As I said, I tend to believe John, but for different reasons — I don’t think is a matter of RAM, or GPU, or battery consumption or display price. After all with the iPhone processor, Apple already showed the world amazing things. Also the battery is not a great issue. I think people would give up a bit of battery for such a good display. And they would probably pay some more for it (like they do with the current Macbook Pro HD display).

So, why on earth is Apple not introducing retina in the next generation iPad?

I think it has to do with competition: no one is good enough yet. Why have higher prices slow down the growth of the product, when there’s no one capable of doing anything similar? The others tablet maker will need a year, if not more, to be competitive with the iPad in terms of price and appeal (if they ever get there). Because if competitors could only come up with the pricey Samsung Galaxy Tablet, then Apple can wait, most likely another full year.

Probably when Google will present the Nexus T(ablet) with the revolutionary resolution of 1920x1080 px, produced by HTC with 2 cameras, Android 3.1415, 4G connectivity, because you cannot ever get enough, 5 hours of battery life and six speakers, because you know you’ll need them, all starting only at 799$…

And then Apple will announce that the iPad 3, with retina display, longer battery life3, iOS 6 and starting at 499$ (with, thank God, only one GPS and two speakers).

As Tim Cook already said

I think some enormous percentage of people are going to select an iPad there.

I know I would.

  1. See this article for an explanation ↩︎

  2. See Cold Water on the iPad 2 Retina Display Hype, an article more thoughtful than mine. ↩︎

  3. I’m cheating here: didn’t I say the battery would last less? Well, maybe, but more than the Nexus T. ↩︎