To vastly simplify matters, every LCD screen is made up of a bunch of pixels connected to each other with a mesh of tiny little wires. These pixels don’t actually emit light themselves, but simply regulate the color of the light being displayed in that pixel. Behind this mesh is a lamp, and before a pixel can light up on your screen, the light from this lamp needs to shine through this mesh of wires. Because this mesh is so densely packed, though, the lamp needs to shine very, very brightly to get through… and the brighter an LED light shines, the more power it soaks up.
This is why the new iPad needs such a massive battery. The Retina display has over 3 million pixels in in a tiny area, which means the mesh behind the display is even thicker and more densely packed. To compensate, Apple needs to use a very bright light to shine through this extremely dense mesh, which results in worse battery performance over all.
What if there was a way to make the mesh of wires behind every pixel a lot less dense? That’s the idea behind Sharp’s IGZO technology, and the reason why we’ve been excited about it finally coming to Apple products since at least the beginning of the year. Now it looks possible that, with the iPad mini, we could finally get our wish, as Sharp is now announcing that their IGZO tech comes in 7-inch varieties… and they are releasing a tablet to prove it.