Apple's 2013: the iPad

Will the iPad mini get a retina display?
Yes.

But, didn't it take the original iPad two iterations before it went retina? Why is this different?
The original iPad was a display with a resolution Apple had never shipped in a mobile device. It's screen was a first pressing, much like the first iPhone. So, developing a screen with effectively 4x the resolution required the same amount of engineering it took to engineer the first display.

The iPad mini display is different because it is exactly the same display as the iPhone 3GS, cut into a larger size. (Displays are large sheets of pixels, cut into specific sizes based on spec - if any pixels on the sheet are dead, they are cut around) To retinafy the iPad mini, they'd only need to do the same thing with the iPhone 4's retina display (same size, 4x the resolution as the 3GS), which they've been putting on all their new phones since 2010. They have way more than enough of that display to throw it on the iPad mini, for most likely negligable cost.

...you know, I really don't have any other pressing questions.
Me neither. Surprisingly enough, I think the iPad family roadmap is pretty easy to predict this year. Let's see what we've got.

iPad (retina)

The iPad 5 is going to catch a graphically enhanced version of the A7 they'll drop in the new iPhone, like always: the A7X, I assume. It'll have a new outer casing to line it up design-wise with the iPad mini (and reduce the weight), the new LTE universal hardware that will allow it to work with every provider, and a better iSight camera (im guessing the same 8MP that was in the 4S) with a better front facing camera for "FaceTime HD", or whatever they're calling that. Add in iOS 7 and the better battery life that A7 brings, and that's the package deal, for $499 for the 16GB version.

iPad (2) (cheap)

I think they've been selling enough of the cheap iPad to justify its inclusion in the line. The big question is, do they replace it with the 3rd gen retina and retire the 2 forever?

I see two ways this goes down. Either they replace the 2 with the retina 4, keep the $399 price point and move on, or they pull an iPhone and keep the 2 around at $299. I hope they do the latter, because that totally rewrites the sellsheet on these things. A 9.7 inch iPad for $300 bucks... that'll do wonders for education, not to mention all the companies using them for HUD's and menu panels and whatnot.

Wait...what happened to the retina 3? Good catch. I think everybody kind of knew the retina 3 didn't have quite the steam for that display, and i'm going to bet Apple knew it too. Here's the real meaty prediction that I'll make for the coming years:

Apple will return to a one-iPad-per-year release strategy, because last year's iPad 4 was a stopgap, introduced to bring the power draining, slow, heavy iPad 3 off the market. If Apple could have waited to release the iPad 4 and never released the 3 at all, they would have.

iPad mini

This gets the A6X, a better camera (the same 8MP that's in the iPad 5), and a retina display that's going to look wonderful and reward everyone who waited for it. It'll also keep the same price - $329. With the incredible amount of that display lying around, how could it be more expensive?

For $229, however, you can get the original iPad mini.

So, here's your iPad lineup going into Christmas:

  • $229: iPad mini
  • $299: iPad 2
  • $329: iPad mini Retina
  • $399: iPad 4 Retina
  • $499: iPad 5

My eye is set on that mini Retina. In a really creepy way.