iPad mini Display “Capable”, but Sub-par of Android Competitors

It’s safe to say that we all get that the iPad mini’s screen isn’t mind-blowing. I know it, you know it (if you’ve used a mini), but the real question is—how far does the iPad mini display fall short? Turns out, a lot.

I started off my review of the iPad mini hitting the screen issue head on and looking at the iPad mini’s display under a microscope revealed that it has more PPI than the iPad 2, but far fewer than the iPad 3 or 4. What about a full, technical analysis of the display? Something that goes into factors like color range (gamut), glare, sharpness, and calibration? DisplayMate has done the legwork and they results are pretty eye-opening:

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.
Via: DisplayMate

As many commenters on my review pointed out, if you look at most (all? many?) Android tablets on the market (like the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD), the iPad mini screen just doesn’t measure up.

From DisplayMate the iPad mini screen:

  • Is 53% more reflective than the Nexus 7, 41% more than the Kindle Fire HD. It doesn’t seem like might, but yes I’d say in strong light you’ll notice
  • Covers 62% of the color gamut (similar to the iPad 2 and iPhone 4), less than the 100% of the iPad 3/4 and iPhone 5. Nexus 7 and Kindle? 86%.
  • Is as well calibrated as the iPad 3 (4?) and iPhone 5 (finally some good news!)

DisplayMate makes the point that the reasons Apple made to ship the iPad mini screens like this are multitudinous:

  • Keeping 1024×768 meant that app makers wouldn’t have a fourth screen size to code for
  • Right now it isn’t practical (maybe possible) to make a Retina screen in the size needed for an iPad mini (and maintain the size and other features)

So, yes, I think it’s safe to say that there will be an iPad mini with a Retina screen in the future. Just how far into the future is anyone’s guess.

Hat tip: MacRumors