Unnamed sources in China report that AU Optronics, which is one of the many suppliers providing 1024 x 768 panels for Apple's slick new iPad mini, plans to enter mass production of 2048 x 1536 resolution 7.9-inch displays (497 ppi) for the iPad mini 2 by the second half of 2013. That seemingly sets the iPad mini's refresh cycle at a full year, following the footsteps of the larger Apple tablets prior to the iPad 4.
MENAFN reports that AUO will cram the Retina screen into a 7.9-inch form factor by adopting Sharp's IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology to prolong the tablet's battery life without sacrificing brightness. The company will also use Gate IC on array (GOA) which will allow Apple to provide a thinner frame along the perimeter of the screen.
AUO also reportedly said on Wednesday that it had addressed the yield issues currently seen on the first-generation iPad mini that forced the company to limit its supply of displays for Pegatron (which is manufacturing the tablet along with Foxconn), eliminating the problem with bleeding light. AUO plans to ship 800,000 displays in November and 1 million units in December.
On Tuesday UBM TechInsights released its teardown analysis of the current iPad mini, estimating that Apple pays $214.75 for the components in the 16 GB version which has a starting price of $329. The firm also stated that Apple pulls in a gross margin of about 35-percent for the 7.9-inch iOS tablet. By comparison, Apple's component costs for the iPad 4 are reportedly $284, thus Apple is pulling in a 43-percent gross margin.
Recently critics have been pointing out the iPad mini's 1024 x 768 display as one of the tablet's major setbacks, saying it's "very capable" but doesn't follow Apple's high-quality display tradition. At 163 pixels per inch, it also doesn't stand up to the 216-ppi displays found on Google's Nexus 7 or Amazons's Kindle Fire HD. Even more, it's believed that Apple could have at least cranked up the resolution to 1280 x 960 and provide older apps in a letterboxed format.