Is Apple working on bigger iPads with 4K screens?

04 December 2013

A new rumour has surfaced, building on the pre-existing one, that Apple will release a 12.9 inch iPad in 2014 with a 4K display. This new rumour raises the ante with the interesting notion of Apple finally admitting that screens really can be better than its Retina Display.

Chinese website PadNews has reported that Foxconn, the folks who manufacture iPad and iPhones, has been playing around with 2K and 4K panels on behalf of Apple. The screens in question measure 12.9 inches diagonally, giving rise once again to the “big iPad” rumour.

Currently the prototype in question is 2K, but PadNews is confident that 4K is also being strongly considered.

Noone will pay $2k for 4K

We have no doubt that eventually tablets and smartphones will rock 2K and even 4K screens. That being said, Apple busting out a 12.9 inch iPad with 4K resolution in 2014 is incredibly unlikely. It would simply cost too much and there is no real-world application for it. 2K may be a possibility, but seeing as Apple has only just had its first real iPad change since Retina in 2013, we should be waiting till at least 2015 to see the next big change.

Apple might be known for selling premium tech, but charging a couple thousand dollars for a tablet is not in their business model – especially when the only benefit of the component is bragging rights.

Saving face in the 4K race

Apple has been adamant for years now that its Retina Display tech on the iPhone and iPad is as good as any human could ever need. The way Apple determines what ‘Retina Display’ means is through an algorithm that compares the distance you hold a device from your to the number of pixels per inch (ppi) of the display itself.

This means that different Retina Display devices have a different ppi. The iPad Air, for instance, has 264 ppi, where the iPhone 5s has 326 ppi because it’s designed to be held closer to the face.

The problem with this philosophy is twofold:

  1. It’s wrong. The Retina Display resolution may be great, but a higher resolution really does look better to someone with good eyesight.
  2. Maintaining the Retina brand has forced Apple to stagnate while other manufacturers have taken the lead with 1080p displays that boast vastly superior ppi.

Viewed apart, you may have trouble telling whether or not the 1080p display on the HTC One or Galaxy S4 is better or worse than an iPhone’s Retina Display; they’re all pretty fantastic. Once you hold them side-by-side, however, the higher ppi count of a small 1080p panel becomes apparent.

A new device like a bigger 12.9 inch iPad could be a way for Apple to expand its range while finally biting the bullet and raising its resolution beyond the limitations of the Retina Display definition.

But while a bump in pixels makes some sense, a jump to 4K is just absurd. Remember, Apple is only of the only companies left making phones with a 4-inch screen. It hates spending money when it knows it doesn’t have to.

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