Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has a lot to cover in today's 1 p.m. EST press event. But let's face it, there is little mystery to today's event. Most people have started calling it the "iPad event."
In addition to a big "iPad 5" that should see a new design, the iPad mini will be getting a major overhaul. While the tablet's design likely won't be substantially different, the iPad mini looks set to get the upgrade everyone has been waiting for: a retina display.
Let's take a look at what Apple has in store.
The iPad mini was released just about a year ago at a similar event from Apple. The tablet came out amid an explosion of 7" Android tablets. The most popular, the Kindle from Amazon and Google's Nexus 7, were both priced at $200 (or lower, in the case of older Kindle models). With new iPads starting at $500 and previous generation models selling for $400, there was an obvious pricing gap.
So, quite a bit of attention around the iPad mini centered on its cheaper price, starting at $329. Yet, as consumers got their hands on the tablet, they quickly realized that aside from being cheaper, it was maybe a better product than the original iPad. The only real gripe across reviews was that the device lacked a retina display.
Whether because Apple couldn't build the iPad mini at a necessary volume with available supplies of retina displays or the company held back to protect margins, it was a glaring omission. Both the Nexus 7 and Kindle HD had screens with 216 pixels per inch, while the iPad mini had a screen of 163 pixels per inch.
Yet, the iPad mini still sold well. Early reports showed the tablet outselling the larger iPad. Last quarter the average selling price for iPads was $436, down from $515 the year before. A big reason for the decline was a large mix of cheaper iPad minis being sold.
What to expect today
For months, there has been a back-and-forth debate about whether Apple would be able to release a retina display in the newest iPad mini. The big sticking point has been whether the company could produce enough to meet holiday demand.
With just an hour to go before the official unveil, all signs are pointing to the device having a retina display. The latest in a series of confirmations was The Wall Street Journal reporting Apple will release the tablet with a retina display.
That could be a gamble if reports are correct that Apple will struggle to produce enough iPad minis to meet holiday demand. However, with Google's newest Nexus 7 packing a screen with 323 pixels per inch, Apple simply couldn't afford to fall behind the competition.
Other interesting areas to watch will be whether the iPad mini comes with the M7 co-processor unveiled on the iPhone. That co-processor works best tracking motion activities, so it might not make the cut on a larger iPad. However, with the iPad mini being a much more mobile device, Apple could expand the co-processor into the iPad lineup as well.
So, there you have it. All signs points to a retina display. Now we'll just have to see where Apple prices older non-retina iPad minis, and what kind of supply the new iPad mini 2 will have across the holidays.
Remember to check back into Fool.com tonight for analysis on Apple's event, and what it means for investors in the company.
Eric Bleeker, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.