Why the iPad Mini may go 16:9, like the iPhone 5

The new iPad mini, which could debut as soon as this month, may mark a departure from the 4:3 display in its larger cousin. The latest hardware mockup of the iPad mini show it with a 16:9 screen -- much like the iPhone 5.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor
Why the iPad Mini will have an HD screen - Jason O'Grady

Assuming the photos and measurements recently posted at nowhereelse.fr (English translation) of a physical model of the iPad Mini from GizChina turn out to be real, the iPad mini won't have a 4:3 display like the full-size iPad.

DisplayMate's Dr. Raymond Soneira notes that Apple increased the iPhone's aspect ratio -- from 1.50 in the iPhone 4 to 1.78 in the iPhone 5 -- and concludes that the same thing could happen with the iPad Mini, especially if it is positioned for selling TV content, which has 16:9.

Soneira notes that 4:3 aspect ratio screens are great for reading because they have the same aspect ratio as content on 8.5 x 11-inch documents, but that smaller 7 to 8-inch screens with 4:3 aspect ratios will be noticeably letterboxed with 16:9 content, with reduced image size.

Keeping the 768 pixel height in the iPad mini will allow apps written for 1024 x 768 to be displayed with letterbox borders as they are on the iPhone 5. Based on this, Soneira thinks that there are four possible resolutions for the iPad mini, with 1152 x 768 being the most likely:

  • 1024 x 768 is 4:3 = 1.33
  • 1152 x 768 is 3:2 = 1.50 
  • 1228 x 768 is 16:10 = 1.60
  • 1366 x 768 is 16:9 = 1.78

If you think about it, a 4:3 iPad Mini really doesn't make very good sense. This might even tie in with Steve Jobs' original objections to a smaller size. But for consuming content, which is how Google and Amazon are marketing their 7 inch Tablets, and how Apple will most likely market theirs as well, something closer to 16:9 makes a lot more sense...

The oft-rumored, 7.85-inch screen "mini" iPad is rumored to go on sales in early November -- November 2 to be exact. Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports that invitations for the Apple event are going out on October 10 for an event on October 17.

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