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iPad Mini Display Judged 'Very Capable', But Falls Short of iPad and Android Competitors

Much of the discussion about the iPad mini has centered around the device's display, which reportedly represents 43% of the overall cost of manufacturing. While the display is said to take advantage of new "GF2" technology to allow for a thinner, high-quality display, it does not carry the Retina-level resolution users have become accustomed to in the iPhone and iPad.

DisplayMate's Ray Soneira has now put the iPad mini's display through its paces, publishing a new iPad mini Display Technology Shoot-Out comparing its performance to that of the full-size iPad, as well as Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7. Overall, Soneira found that the iPad mini's display is "very capable", but surprisingly falls short of competing devices in a number of areas.
The iPad mini is certainly a very capable small Tablet, but it does not follow in Apple’s tradition of providing the best display, or at least a great display – it has just a very capable display. What’s more, the displays on existing mini Tablets from Amazon and Google outperform the iPad mini in most of our Lab tests as documented below in the Shoot-Out Comparison Table. Some of this results from constraints within the iPad product line, and some to realistic constraints on display technology and costs, but much of it is due to a number of poor choices and compromises.

Among the issues Soneira found with the iPad mini's display:

- Lower resolution: This is obviously not a surprise given the cost and power requirements of putting in a full Retina-level display at 326 pixels per inch (ppi), but the 163 ppi screen of the iPad mini even falls short compared to the 216 ppi displays of the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7.

- Reflectance: The iPad mini's screen reflectance measures at a "surprisingly high" 9.0%, meaning that the iPad mini's display reflects 53% more ambient light than the Nexus 7's display and 41% more than the Kindle Fire HD's screen. Both of the competitors also offer better contrast under high ambient light.

- Color gamut: The iPad mini's color gamut registers at 62%, on par with the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4, but below the 100% figure for latest iPhone and full-size iPad models and below the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 at 86%.

While the iPad mini's display falls short of its larger sibling and more direct competitors on pure specs, Soneira does note that the display holds up fairly well in real-world usage due to excellent calibration and color management processing.

A detailed comparison among the iPad mini, Kindle Fire HD, and Nexus 7 can be found in the table accompanying the report.

Related Roundup: iPad mini 5
Buyer's Guide: iPad Mini (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

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84 months ago
1024x768 is out of date.
Rating: 38 Votes
84 months ago
The 2nd gen iPad mini will truley be magical and change everything... All over again. With it's mind boggling retina display, and other magical features.
Rating: 30 Votes
84 months ago
Article does not acclaim Apple as absolute winner?

Rating: 27 Votes
84 months ago

3 million sales in the opening weekend says otherwise

It's funny how sales figures imply excellent products when it comes to Apple, and yet never did when it came to, say, Windows PCs, or now with Android devices.

Either sales figures are an important indicator of quality or they're not. They can't only matter when Apple is winning.
Rating: 26 Votes
84 months ago
The mini's form factor is just crushing the competition. The Fire HD and Nexus 7 look like fat and cheap knockoffs.
Rating: 21 Votes
84 months ago

The consensus seems to be that Apple made too many compromises in making the Mini, while not pricing it competitively enough. May not make as much of an impact on small tablet sales as they were expecting. This is the most rapidly growing segment of the tablet market, and Apple may have to react quickly to avoid being on the outside looking in. Great news for Google and the Nexus, though, as their market share should continue to steadily increase.

3 million sales in the opening weekend says otherwise
Rating: 18 Votes
84 months ago
Of course it's going to fall short... it's the iPad *mini*.

Picture related
Rating: 16 Votes
84 months ago
Fortunately, falling short of the competition doesn't mean it's a bad screen, just in ways not quite as good. Throw in everything else (iOS, App Store, build quality), and it's a winner.

I still think it's overpriced, and I still prefer the 7 overall, but this article doesn't in any way make me think the iPad Mini is an unworthy purchase.

I saw the Kindle Fire HD screen in person, and was not impressed. I had it side by side with the Kindle Fire and could barely tell a difference in Best Buy.

Having both, I have no idea how you couldn't see the difference. To me, it's immediately clear and apparent.
Rating: 14 Votes
84 months ago
The nexus 7 may have a faster processor, but web browsing performance on an ipad 2/mini run rings around my Nexus 7.

Clearly Apple known how to use the GPU for scrolling and other goodies.

Project butter in android certainly helped. But it still lags behind iOS in smoothness in performance of actual useful tasks instead of benchmarks.

The android game market is a ghost town by comparison...
Rating: 14 Votes
84 months ago

3 million sales in the opening weekend says otherwise

3 million is the iPad Mini + iPad 4th gen.
Rating: 13 Votes

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