iPad mini: Is Apple adding retina? Reports conflict.

Kevork Djansezian/GETTY IMAGES - SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 23: The new iPad mini (L) and fourth generation iPad are displayed after they were unveiled during an Apple special event at the historic California Theater on October 23, 2012 in San Jose, California.

Apple’s iPad mini was launched with much fanfare last November, but one of the biggest criticisms of the device was that it didn’t have the crisp, retina display that Apple had included on the latest generations of its full-sized iPad.

With nearly a year on the market under its belt, the smaller tablet is likely due for a refresh. But reports conflict on whether the next iPad mini will sport the better display that consumers have been requesting.

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A report Thursday from the Wall Street Journal comes firmly in the pro camp. Filed from Taipei, the report cited unnamed “people familiar with the situation” who say that Apple is working with companies in its Asian supply chain to get a high-resolution display from Samsung, Sharp and LG Display into the next iPad mini. The Journal report also notes that Samsung was not originally on Apple’s list of preferred suppliers for the screens, given the tenuous supplier rivalry between the two companies, but that Apple decided to include its top smartphone and tablet competitor.

But before users get too excited, they should head over to 9 to 5 Mac, which is reporting that there also appears to be support for a faster iPad mini that doesn’t have the super sharp display. This is based on reports from developers working with Apple’s forthcoming iOS 7 operating system, the tech site said.

Confused yet? It gets better. Both reports also note that Apple often tests products that don’t necessarily make it to stores, adding the requisite grain of salt for anyone looking to speculation to make purchasing decisions. Apple is notorious for playing its cards close to the vest, which makes it hard to divine exactly what the company may be planning for future products.

What’s certain is that Apple is facing steeper competition in the small tablet market. Google recently unveiled the next version of its Nexus 7 tablet, which sports a 323-pixel-per-inch display — denser than the 226 ppi retina display on the full-sized iPad — and sets the stage for a fierce battle over the display quality for smaller tablets. As for another Apple rival, Amazon is expected to be releasing new versions of its Kindle Fire tablets in the next few months, Boy Genius Report said earlier this week, which are expected to have “high-resolution” displays, as well.

Google’s Nexus 7 starts at $230; Amazon’s new tablets aren’t expected to deviate much from its current $199 HD price point. The iPad mini currently starts at $329.

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