A 400PPI iPad mini makes no sense, unless you have bionic eyes

A 400PPI iPad mini makes no sense, unless you have bionic eyes

Summary: A 400ppi would give the iPad mini the highest pixel density of any iOS device, and mean that you'd need bionic eyes in order to be able to take advantage of it.

TOPICS: iPad, Tablets
(Image: Apple)

It makes sense for Apple to double the pixel density of the iPad mini in order to bump the screen up to "Retina" display quality, but going up to 400 pixels-per-inch (ppi) makes no technical sense at all.

The current generation iPad mini features a 7.9-inch 1,024×768 display with a pixel density of 163ppi. This falls below Apple's standard for a Retina display screen, where the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels at normal reading distances for the device. The pixel density is well below that of the current generation iPad and iPhone, which have a pixel density of 264 and 326ppi respectively.

The way that Apple transitioned the iPhone and iPad to a high-pixel-density Retina display was by doubling the pixel density. This meant that handling the transition was made easier because non-Retina-enabled apps could be scaled up easily to the new resolution as the aspect ratio remained the same.

So it makes sense that when Apple transitions the iPad mini to a Retina display, it will double the screen resolution from 1,024x768 to 2,048x1,536, while keeping the screen size the same. This will bump the pixel density from 163ppi to 326ppi.

This keeps the iPad mini consistent with the iPad, and means that apps continue to be interchangeable.

But today, Patently Apple is reporting that Korean sources are saying that the iPad mini 3 will have a screen with a pixel density in excess of 400ppi.

This makes no sense for a number of reasons.

  • First and foremost, what possible reason could going beyond Retina display offer? Unless you have bionic eyes with microscope mode, once the pixels get so small that you can't see them, making them smaller offers no benefit, beyond perhaps giving marketing a number to run with

  • Apple has doubled the pixel density of devices to give its devices a Retina display. This made sure that older non-Retina apps remained compatible. Bumping the iPad mini up to 326ppi makes sense, but going higher doesn't. Not only is it adding pixels for no reason, it would mean that existing apps wouldn't scale up properly
  • Why would Apple scale up the iPad mini's display twice? If the iPad mini 2 is going to go up to Retina display levels, why would Apple boost the pixel density again?

  • A screen of this density wouldn't come cheap. Why would Apple spend unnecessarily on a component that offers no end-user benefit?

Bottom line, it's highly unlikely that we will see an iPad mini with a 400+ppi display.

Topics: iPad, Tablets

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  • The reason is obvious

    Less eye strain. Looking at a 399 PPI display for more than a few minutes gives people massive headaches. Breaking through the 400 PPI barrier will solve this problem.
    • Thanks

      I needed the laugh.

      John L. Ries
      • I agree John, def. one of Todd's better jokes.

        That said, while I don't know how different, good, or bad the increase to 400 would be, I do know from personal experience; that with the Ipad 4th generation, I don't seem to have any issues reading for long periods of time as I did with the original Ipad.(1st gen)

    • Incorrect

      Do a search for reducing eye strain with monitors. The one thing you will NOT find is increasing pixel density. I'm not sure what company started this rumor. I realize people will disagree with me, but you have to trust the data when the same handful of suggestions are found on numerous sources and leave that one out.

      ...kind like how increasing vitamin C intake doesn't help fight colds or much else other than scurvy.
      • The joke... You missed it...

        Should he have added opening and closing joke tags? Or commented his comment, perhaps? For future reference, here you go:

        //Begin joke

        Less eye strain. Looking at a 399 PPI display for more than a few minutes gives people massive headaches. Breaking through the 400 PPI barrier will solve this problem.

        //End joke
    • Actually, a "true" retina display has a much higher PPI

      "The resolution of the retina is in angular measure - it's 50 Cycles Per Degree," he wrote in an email. "A cycle is a line pair, which is two pixels, so the angular resolution of the eye is 0.6 arc minutes per pixel.
      "So, if you hold an iPhone at the typical 12 inches from your eyes that works out to 477 pixels per inch," Soneira added. "At 8 inches it's 716 ppi. You have to hold it out 18 inches before it falls to 318 ppi.
      "So the iPhone has significantly lower resolution than the retina," Soneira wrote. "It actually needs a resolution significantly higher than the retina in order to deliver an image that appears perfect to the retina."

  • Huh?

    "The current generation iPad mini features a 7.9-inch 1024 × 768 display with a pixel density of 16PPI."

    That would be a crappy display...
    Michael Alan Goff
  • Yep. 600 DPI laser printers offer no advantages

    over 300 DPI printers. Oh. Wait. They do. For some reason, people have a hard time translating this concept from print to screen. Probably because of Windows' dependence on the pixel grid. As long as iOS can handle the scaling of elements properly, you'll see sharper text and graphics that look the same. Developers won't have to do a thing.
    • Look the same size.

      Had to put that clarification in for the trolls. Because trolls are stupid.
      • Trolls are stupid?

        Not necessarily. Smart trolls are much more entertaining.
        John L. Ries
        • *MOST* trolls are stupid.

          And the smart ones are usually entertaining for 15 minutes.
    • What text will be sharper to the human eye

      1000 PPI, or an "atom display" where pixels are the size of an atom?
      William Farrel
      • easy question

        Of course, any text rendered by Microsoft's ClearType is far superior to anything else, even if the resolution is lower. That was an easy one :)
        • So the science of all of this is beyond your grasp?

          That's fine, and don't feel ashamed you can't answer.
          William Farrel
          • was it your crystal ball

            Or the stars are talking to you?

            There is no need for any science, when all it takes is to believe in the one, true Microsoft way.
        • If you like multi-colored anti-aliasing of your fonts,

          that might be true. However, I'll take Apple's "screw the pixel grid, let's just quadruple the pixel count" approach. Retina>>>>>anything else out there.
    • even weirder

      Some printers even go to length to print at 1200 DPI..

      Don't those people know that text printed on paper should be at 72 DPI dot matrix? Or better yet, stamped by the daisy wheel!
    • Pixels on printer and pixels on monitor are totally different.

      Pixels on a monitor can vary in intensity from 0 to 255.

      Pixels on printers are either on or off. To vary the intensity, they have to be dithered.

      Because of this, you need far more DPI on a printer to achieve the same effect as on a monitor.
      • GASP!

        Someone who actually understands the difference between print and screen, RGB & CMYK, colors and pigments?! HUZZAH!
    • Paper...

      Paper and LCD screens are inherently differend media, what works for one may not work at all for the other.

      On LCD screens you can use sub-pixel rendering to make text look smoother that may not be an option on a laser printer because *good* sub-pixel rendering (like Quartz on OS X or ClearType on Windows) makes extensive use of colour, even when rendering what looks like dark black text.

      Also, it wasn't Microsoft that created the 300dpi standard, print media (books, magazines, newspapers) have used 300dpi resolutions long before Microsoft even existed.