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Will The iPad Mini Feature IGZO Display Technology?

Does IGZO sound familiar? The acronym is formed from the initials of three chemical elements: Indium, Gallium and Zinc Oxide. While the name isn't new, the technology developed by Sharp is, and the possibility of it showing up in the new iPad mini is very possible.

IGZO iPad mini display
Before the launch of the new iPad it was widely rumored that it would feature this new, IGZO technology. It would have allowed a thinner display assembly, brighter screen with less LED and reduce costs as well as energy consumption. In the end, Apple decided to go with a Samsung display. However, as recent reports highlight, they have now moved away from a love-hate relationship to a hate-hate one.

From this perspective it seems obvious that Apple is indeed looking for new alternatives. It proved this with the iPhone 5 display, but as the result shows, the also new in-cell technology has some issues, at least in some models.

An interesting news release came in the middle of the week, a day after Apple sent out invitations for the iPad mini event. Sharp announced its first 7-inch tablet will use the IGZO technology they introduced earlier this year.

According to Sharp's press release the new Aquos Pad will be available for purchase in December and will carry a 1280 x 800 pixel display. This allows its 2,040mAh battery to compete with other tablets including the iPad and last 2.5 times more than its counterparts. However, there are no specifications on how much time users will be able to play video or surf the web on a single charge.

What is interesting however is a series of coincidences that could lead one to wonder whether the iPad mini will feature IGZO display (Apple reportedly invested money into one of Sharp's factories last year). First of all it's thinner than the LCD display and it sports narrower borders (a key element of the upcoming iPad mini). As we mentioned before, the iPad mini will likely have a thinner bezel, which is definitely a match here.

Also, looking at the new iPad BOM provided by IHS Supply, it is obvious that the highest cost component of the tablet is its Retina display as it is $30 more than the non-retina iPad 2 display. From this perspective a lower cost display could be the No. 1 priority for Apple, and the IGZO tech does have some advantages in this field. It is widely rumored and it does make sense (considering iOS market fragmentation arguments) that the iPad mini won't feature a Retina Display, although it would be fantastic for it to have one.

IGZO display technology carries additional benefits as well. The iPad mini's battery life could be significantly longer, and if Sharp's claims are true, the touch panels are more accurate than LED panels. I cannot underestimate its light reflection abilities and improved contrast which are highly essential for outdoor use. If Apple indeed wants to focus on books and reading during the iPad mini event, the IGZO tech is something they might seriously be considering for the iPad mini.

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