Retina MacBooks Mean More Manufacturing Costs For Apple

Retina MacBooks Mean More Manufacturing Costs For Apple

Retina displays will be more expensive for Apple to put into new MacBook Pros.

Apple’s upcoming lineup of MacBook Pros are expected to feature a slimmer design, Intel Ivy Bridge architecture and jaw-dropping ‘Retina’ displays. Like the last two iPhones and newest iPad, Apple’s new MacBook Pro and iMac models are supposed to flaunt a screen like you’ve never seen on a computer before. And if iOS device marketing is any indication, such a display will likely be the flagship feature in new Macs. Apple is expected to unveil the new MacBook Pros at WWDC next month, according to multiple reports.

If the next MacBook Pro and iMac really do come outfitted with gorgeous Retina displays, then the new screens will cost Apple more to make.

CNET passes along a note from DisplaySearch Senior Analyst Richard Shim saying that the displays Apple would likely use for super hi-res notebook screens are already available in the supply chain:

“What’s clear is that Apple’s pushing it. They’re pushing panel makers to come out with higher resolution panels because they’ve created a market demand for it, starting with their phones, now going to their tablets,” Shim said. “Now what we’re seeing in the supply chain is that they’re going to move that to their notebooks, and it’s becoming a premium feature.”

According to Shim, it would cost Apple about $160 to put a Retina-quality panel in a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Apple currently pays $68 per panel. A 13-inch panel would cost $134, while the current panel costs Apple $69.

Apple already offers a higher-res display for the current 15-inch Pro that bumps up the resolution from 1440×900 to 1,680×1,050. The made-to-order upgrade costs $100 on Apple’s website.

Here are the ‘Retina’ specs Shim thinks Apple will use:

  • 15.4-inch: 2,880 by 1,800 resolution. That’s 220 pixels per inch (PPI). By comparison, the current 15.4-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,440 by 900 pixel display and a PPI of 110.
  • 13.3-inch: 2,560 by 1,600 resolution with a PPI of 227. By comparison, the current 13.3-inch MacBook Air is 1,440 by 900 pixels, and has PPI of 127

Interestingly, Shim did not say anything about the 17-inch MacBook Pro model. Cult of Mac has independently heard that Apple is focusing on the smaller end of its MacBook Pro lineup, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the 17-inch model falls by the wayside.

It’s important to remember that Apple didn’t raise prices when transitioning to the Retina display in the iPhone 4 and third-gen iPad, but a $1,200 notebook is a totally different ballgame.

Apple is a huge player in the supply chain, and the company has been known to negotiate seemingly-impossoble deals to secure components in bulk or at a cheaper price. We’ve reported before that the new MacBook Pros will not have optical drives, so Apple could cut manufacturing costs that way. It’s highly unlikely that customers will have to pay extra for something like a better screen. Heck, it’s not like Apple doesn’t have enough cash to float the bill.

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  • CGJack

    Really? I would have thought it would have reduced the price, personally…

  • john4043

    you guys talk about ‘Retina’ displays and that will never happen. what about the gaming community you know how long it will take these guys to get up speed with retina graphics worst yet the web site, it will take them ages. it took a while for some developers to get up to speed on IOS with the Retina and some app dont even have it yet. your mac will look like shit cause the only web site will have 2x graphics is apple it will take the others ages to get up to speed. Retina Displays Macs will be in the next 2ys or so worst yet for thoseThunderbolt Display it not gonna happen.     then again maybe im wrong!

  • Elliott Minns

    you guys talk about ‘Retina’ displays and that will never happen. what about the gaming community you know how long it will take these guys to get up speed with retina graphics worst yet the web site, it will take them ages. it took a while for some developers to get up to speed on IOS with the Retina and some app dont even have it yet. your mac will look like shit cause the only web site will have 2x graphics is apple it will take the others ages to get up to speed. Retina Displays Macs will be in the next 2ys or so worst yet for thoseThunderbolt Display it not gonna happen.     then again maybe im wrong!

    @john4043 Those points about games and web pages are incorrect. Games won’t be running at the full resolution of the display, they will most likely be running at a previous resolution and then scaled up. Just like if you run a game at 800×600 on a 1920×1200 display. Therefore this means that retina display macs will be able to run games. Secondly, Web Pages. Web sites will not need to do anything in order to support retina display resolutions, Apple will take care of that through Safari. Web browsers are what displays the information on a web site, not the web site itself. A website is a just a text file full of html and CSS. A web browser parses this file (or multiple files) and then displays the output to the screen. All Safari would do would need to is display higher resolution text and CSS styling, as well as scaling up images @2x. If you look at the release of the iPhone 4, who needed to update their mobile web sites to accommodate for the new displays?

  • thegraphicmac

    I would be willing to bet a dozen donuts this entire Retna Mac storyline is complete B.S. 

    1. People speculate. 
    2. A half-ass tech blog adds to the speculation.
    3. Another tech blog reports it as a sourced rumor.
    4. The rest of the tech blogs republish it as fact.
    5. Actual product is released.
    6. People have a sh!t fit because it’s not what they expected.
  • ApplePr0n

    I have a 2010 MBP but let’s be honest, I will buy this on launch if the next macbook has a Retina Display

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too. All DMs excepted.

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