iPad Mini's Resolution

While the iPad Mini's screen size is usually reported to be 7.85", the rumored device's resolution is much less certain. John Gruber has said that he believes the device will share the same display as the iPhone 3GS, just at the 7.85" cut, rather than the 3.5". The idea seems to make enough sense. But I've been using a 3GS for about a 3 months (it's a very long, very sad story), while having access to an iPhone 4, and I have to say that the display on the 3GS is completely terrible. It isn't just the resolution, it's the color quality as well; the display is completely washed.

So that got me thinking. If not 1024 by 768 at 163 PPI, then what?

The iPhone display is 326 PPI, and the iPad is 264. Since the iPad Mini will have a screen size between these two devices (meaning that the viewing distance will be between those two devices), I would expect it to have a pixel density between them as well. A slight resolution increase to 1280 by 960 would get the iPad Mini out of the 163 PPI hell hole, but would by no means have a better PPI than the iPad, as this resolution would only give the device a PPI of 204. Additionally, it would have a pixel density just lower than the Nexus 7, and equal to the Kindle Fire HD. I think Apple would resist a "less than or equal to" position when it comes to displays.

The next possible display resolution, in my eyes, would be 1600 by 1200 which would give the iPad Mini a pixel density of 255. This might be the best bet for those who believe that the iPad Mini will have a high resolution display. And because this number is just lower than the iPad, it might actually be easier to sell the iPad as a true premium product, or at least an upgrade to the Mini. It might mean that the display isn't considered to be "retina" but that will ultimately be up to Apple PR.

Unfortunately, the next standard resolution above 1600 by 1200 is 2048 by 1536 (QXGA) which is the same resolution as the iPad. But when that resolution is squeezed down from 9.7" to 7.85" something interesting happens: the PPI is 326, the exact same as the iPhone's pixel density. For the consumer, this would be fantastic. It would truly be an iPad Mini. The readability of the screen would be fantastic, and the it would be praised as an amazing feat of engineering. The reason I said "unfortunately" at the beginning of the paragraph is because this is really impossible. These displays would be way to expensive to put on a low end device, and the benefits in comparison to 1600 by 1200 wouldn't really be noticed (or at least needed) by that many people.

There is always the chance that Apple will simply create a new resolution, with a pixel density between the iPhone's 326 and the iPad's 264. So there is still hope that it could have a true Retina display.

But either way I'm placing my bets on 1280 by 960, my hopes on 1600 by 1200 and my dreams on an even greater resolution with a PPI above 264.

Any thoughts? Are you convinced that it will have the same display as the iPhone 3GS with a resolution of 1024 by 768?