Display panels for the iPad Mini Retina should begin leaving the factory in the coming months, according to market researcher IHS iSuppli, echoing recent comments from other analysts.
Panel production for the high-resolution Mini will be "less than 3 million" units in the third quarter, Sweta Dash, senior director of LCD research at IHS iSuppli, told CNET.
And that means Apple's next small tablet should follow sooner -- or later. "We see it coming in the second half," Dash said. "The challenges [display makers] face are the [production] yield rates. And being able to produce in very high volume for Apple."
Of course, only Apple knows the actual timing of the next-gen Mini announcement. But availability to Apple will depend on when the panel production goes into high gear, according to Dash.
"Ideally, [display makers] should be producing in high volume one or two quarters before Apple can use the display," she said.
So, hypothetically, if display makers begin manufacturing the high-resolution 7.9-inch Mini panels in the third quarter, then step up production in the fourth quarter, that would push high-volume availability into the fourth quarter or first quarter.
Along these lines, Citi Research believes the iPad Mini Retina won't appear until the fourth quarter at the earliest -- and just as likely the first quarter of 2014. Therefore Apple may initially focus on a low-cost, non-Retina version of the Mini. "This puts the emphasis on the reduced-price iPad Mini 2...we expect this to be priced at $230-$250 versus $329 for the current iPad Mini," Citi said in a research note last week.
In addition to LG Display and AUO, Samsung may also supply panels for the next-gen Mini, CNET reported Thursday.