The timing of the Journal's report is curious. Earlier this week, Apple released iOS 7 Beta 4. Sharp-eyed developers believed they saw references to future generations of hardware buried in the iOS 7 beta code. Their analysis suggested the designations found in the code proved the next-generation iPad Mini would in fact not have a Retina Display. The new report effectively counters that belief and sets minds at ease.
Does it matter if the next-gen iPad Mini has a Retina Display or not? First, the term "Retina Display" is a marketing phrase coined by Apple to tout the high resolution screens on its devices. The iPhone, larger iPad, and several MacBooks have Retina Displays, which really just means that they are pixel rich.
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The iPad Mini's display measures 7.9 inches across the diagonal and has 1024 by 768 pixels. The screen doesn't even measure up to the lower 720p HD spec, let alone the full 1080p HD spec. It's not a terrible screen, but many others have it beat. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 has a full HD screen, and so does the recently-announced Nexus 7. The pixel density of the iPad Mini's screen doesn't hold a candle to these two competitors. This is the real issue.
Google is offering a compelling value in the Nexus 7. It costs $100 less than the iPad Mini, and though it has a slightly smaller screen, most of the specs are superior to Apple's smaller tablet. Specs many not be everything, but if there's one spec that stares people in the face, it is the display.
Take the new Nexus 7 with its great display and pair it with FUD-riddled stories suggesting that the iPad Mini won't be able to compete because of its crummy screen, and you get a response from Apple. That response is this well-timed leak about the suddenly improved likelihood that the iPad Mini will indeed have a Retina Display.
Take all these reports with a grain of salt.