Why the iPad mini 2 might get Retina; but not Touch ID

Apple's new iPhone lineup is all about differentiation and the iPad will likely follow in its footsteps.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

All eyes are on Apple's fall event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Fransisco tomorrow. Rumors are flying about which iPad will get what feature, but I'm betting that the full-size iPad will pull away from the iPad mini (features wise) in an effort to differentiate the two product lines.

When Apple released the new iPhone 5s and 5c in September, its goals weren't to release a high-end/high-price iPhone and a low-end/low-price iPhone, but rather two quality products, with one being slightly less expensive than the other.

Apple doesn't want to get into a race to the bottom and cut prices (and quality) to compete, but instead wants to make both market segments feel like they're getting something of value. It's not in Apple's DNA to simply make a stripped down model that's "the cheap one."

I expect that Apple will take a page out of its iPhone playbook with the iPad announcements tomorrow.

The iPad mini 2 needs a Retina display to compete with the Nexus 7 (2013 version) and the Kindle Fire HDX 7 which both have 1920×1200 resolution screens. An iPad mini with only 1024x768 resolution at 163 pixels per inch (PPI) isn't going to cut it in Q4.

On the flip side, the iPad mini 2 doesn’t need Touch ID. Although I want it as much as the next person, Google and Amazon's 7-inch tablets don't have fingerprint scanners, and omitting it from the iPad mini is a way to keep prices down and differentiate it from the full-size iPad 5.

Need Touch ID and the latest chip? Pony up for the iPad 5.

This purported leak claimes to show an iPad 5 with Touch ID, but the iPad mini 2 without. Jason O'Grady
(Picture: CtechCN.com)

On Saturday the Chinese language CtechCN.com posted the image above which purports to show the new iPad 5 with a Touch ID sensor in the home button and an iPad mini 2 without it. 

It makes sense that Apple would add Touch ID and an upgraded A7x chip to the full-size iPad 5 and bump the iPad mini 2 up to a Retina display and an A6x chip, because that's how what it just did with the iPhone.

Although the iPad mini 2 will probably retain the same $329 starting price (Cupertino's modus operandi is to add features but keep prices static), Apple should drop it to $299 to better compete with the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 7 which both start at $229.

Tuesday will likely be a replay of what Apple did with its new iPhone line last month. Both new iPhones have Retina screens, but the high-end iPhone 5s was differentiated with Touch ID and A7, which the lower-cost iPhone 5c got the A6 and a lower price.

What are your hopes and dreams for the iPad line tomorrow?

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