I am still not convinced that Apple will release a smaller iPad. If they surprise me and do announce one I think it will show up beside the next gen iPad in 2013 at the yearly iPad event. I wanted to go ahead and get these unfounded thoughts published just in case we actually see an invite for a press event tomorrow.
A 1024×768 pixel iPad at 7.85 inches makes sense. It would be smaller, lighter and apps would just work. However, the latest crop of seven-inch class tablets are rapidly leaving that resolution behind. The Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD are both 1280×800 which gives them 215 ppi versus the rumored iPad mini at 163 ppi.
Apple would probably position the little brother as a premium product so I have a hard time believing they would settle for a screen that matches an iPhone that was launched over three years ago. What if Apple has an LCD panel in a higher resolution that we have not yet seen? I starting thinking about the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. One of the most amazing things to me is playing around with the scaling factors in the Settings panel. Because the pixels are so small the previously disastrous effects of not using an LCD display’s native resolution are gone. Independence is finally here. Why could Apple not do the same with a smaller panel in the iPad? A tidy 1536×1152 panel at 7.85 inches would give us a crisp 244 ppi which is slightly more dense than the 220 ppi on the MacBook Pro’s retina display. It would technically be HD unlike a 1024×768 iPad. Graphics created for the iPad 3 should look very nice scaled to .75.
As I was thinking about this I noticed that first number in the dimensions I had chosen. 1536. The current iPad is 2048×1536. What if Apple simply used the exact same panels they are currently using in the new 9.7 inch iPad? That would give us a screen at just under 7.3 inches. With everything scaling to 75% hit areas for touch would fall between the iPhone/iPod touch and the current iPad.
This seems very efficient to me. Baseless theorizing complete. Back to the rumor mill.