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Test puts iPad mini and 4th-gen iPad screens under microscope

post #1 of 42
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A repair firm on Friday put the screens of Apple's new iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad under the microscope to illustrate the difference in size between the two tablets' pixels, and expectedly found the 7.9-inch device to fit between the iPad 2 and the Retina display iPad.

The informal inspection, performed by Repair Labs (via TechCrunch), yielded side-by-side images of the mini, the first-generation iPad, iPad 2, third- and fourth-generation iPad with Retina display, all taken from a 150x power microscope.

As seen in the resulting photos, the red, blue and green (RGB) blocks that comprise a single pixel are clearly visible, with pixel densities ranging in size from the original iPad and iPad 2's relatively low-resolution 132-pixels per inch screens, to the 264-pixels per inch panels found in the third- and fourth-generation iPads. Falling between the two pixel densities, but leaning more toward the iPad 2, is the iPad mini's display, which has the same resolution as the original iPad and iPad 2, but boasts a higher 164ppi pixel density due to its smaller 7.9-inch screen.

iPad 2 v. iPad 4
Source: Repair Labs


Comparing the fourth-gen iPad with the iPad mini, the pixels in the Retina display are only two-thirds the size of those found in the smaller tablet. This is in contrast to the iPad 2, which has pixels double the size of the fourth-gen iPad's.

"This means the difference between the two, is less noticeable," Repair Labs wrote. "In fact, to the naked eye, it?s negligible."

iPad mini v. iPad 4
Pixel size of the iPad mini's screen (left) versus that of the fourth-generation iPad (right).


When Apple announced the iPad mini in October, some were concerned that the lack of a Retina display would hinder sales of the device as the company is in the process of moving most of its products to the high-resolution panels. It appears that Apple is positioning the tablet as a completely new sub-market, however, and is using the older screen tech to keep prices down.

Many have speculated that the next iPad mini will feature a Retina display as manufacturing yield rates stabilize to drive down component costs, though at this point the statements are mere rumors with no supporting evidence from supply chain sources.
post #2 of 42

Wouldn't think you'd need to use a microscope with screens of that quality...

post #3 of 42
I love this stuff. Since Apple knows that all of their stuff is dissected and analyzed, why not let some great things about the devices get discovered. Great free marketing.
post #4 of 42
You mean these things aren't made from real retinas?
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post #5 of 42
It's the same pixel density as the iPhone 3GS. I had a 3GS. I thought my eyes were going bad trying to look at text on the screen. When I got my iPhone4, suddenly I could see clearly. It wasn't my eyes, but the screen. Now, for some reason, when I use my iPad 2, I don't have the same issue and it has a lower pixel density.
post #6 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

It's the same pixel density as the iPhone 3GS. I had a 3GS. I thought my eyes were going bad trying to look at text on the screen. When I got my iPhone4, suddenly I could see clearly. It wasn't my eyes, but the screen. Now, for some reason, when I use my iPad 2, I don't have the same issue and it has a lower pixel density.

A little melodramatic?
post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Bonner View Post

I love this stuff. Since Apple knows that all of their stuff is dissected and analyzed, why not let some great things about the devices get discovered. Great free marketing.

I'm surprised they didn't inscribe something that says "get a life!"
post #8 of 42

Have you ever seen the Samsung pentile screens, like those used in the Galaxy SIII under a microscope?

 

It looks like a mess, and the colors are all different shapes, not neat and identical shapes like on the displays that Apple uses. And yep, I know that Samsung does manufacture some screens for Apple, in case any smartass feels the need to point that out.

post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Many have speculated that the next iPad mini will feature a Retina display as manufacturing yield rates stabilize to drive down component costs, though at this point the statements are mere rumors with no supporting evidence from supply chain sources.

And I'll be waiting until May or June and buy it then w/ retina and an A6. I really want a mini, but not enough to sacrifice screen and performance... Just getting it "first" doesn't mean you get it "right". See- google. They're the kings of "first but wrong". Ill wait for the 2nd gen thanks very much. 1smile.gif

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post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post


And I'll be waiting until May or June and buy it then w/ retina and an A6. I really want a mini, but not enough to sacrifice screen and performance... Just getting it "first" doesn't mean you get it "right". See- google. They're the kings of "first but wrong". Ill wait for the 2nd gen thanks very much. 1smile.gif

There is no sacrifice. I looked at the mini and iPad 4 this afternoon and the resolution was extraordinary, indistinguishable. You'd have to be the princess with a pea under her mattress to find the difference important. 

post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Have you ever seen the Samsung pentile screens, like those used in the Galaxy SIII under a microscope?

 

It looks like a mess, and the colors are all different shapes, not neat and identical shapes like on the displays that Apple uses. And yep, I know that Samsung does manufacture some screens for Apple, in case any smartass feels the need to point that out.

 

Not Samsung screens.  Pentile screens, no matter who manufacturers them.

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post #12 of 42
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Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

. See- google. They're the kings of "first but wrong". 

 

  they did pretty well arriving late to search

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post #13 of 42
The iPad mini is great to hold with one hand. When you hold the big iPad, it feels like a brick. The screen is slightly sharper than iPad 2, but not as crisp as retina. But text in reader mode in safari was great to read. Finally an iPad that won't feel heavy trying to hold with one hand.
post #14 of 42

Why not wait until it comes out in retina? You know it will be the next upgrade.

post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaNorse View Post

Why not wait until it comes out in retina? You know it will be the next upgrade.

That update probably isn't for a year though. There will always be updates, it's just a matter of deciding when to jump in.
post #16 of 42
Originally Posted by SeaNorse View Post
Why not wait until it comes out in retina? You know it will be the next upgrade.

 

I'm thinking 2014 on that, myself. Solipsism makes a good point.

post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I'm thinking 2014 on that, myself. Solipsism makes a good point.


Just remember that Apple had shuffled some executives around and somewhere mentioned that products will be released when they're ready, not based on a cycle.  In other word, when the iPad mini 2 is ready, it'll be released; it won't be released just because April or March crawls around or that November 2013 is here.

post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeromeus View Post


Just remember that Apple had shuffled some executives around and somewhere mentioned that products will be released when they're ready, not based on a cycle.  In other word, when the iPad mini 2 is ready, it'll be released; it won't be released just because April or March crawls around or that November 2013 is here.

 

They've already implemented that with the Mac Pro. It won't be released just because November 2013 is here... or not.

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post #19 of 42
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Originally Posted by GTR View Post

You mean these things aren't made from real retinas?

 

 

I am amused that the term 'retina display' is really rather silly, however because Apple said it, the entire industry has adopted it even thought it doesn't really have any meaning. 

post #20 of 42
"Comparing the fourth-gen iPad with the iPad mini, the pixels in the Retina display are only two-thirds the size of those found in the smaller tablet. This is in contrast to the iPad 2, which has pixels double the size of the fourth-gen iPad's. This means the difference between the two, is less noticeable," Repair Labs wrote. "In fact, to the naked eye, it’s negligible."

I'm not sure I'm following. Is this saying the difference between the iPad 3 and mini is less than the difference between the iPad 3 and iPad 2, and in fact the difference between the iPad 3 and the mini is negligible to the naked eye? I don't quite agree with that, although the difference between the iPad 3 and the mini is not as much as I had been lead to expect. Text on the mini looks just slightly fuzzy compared to the razor sharp iPad 3. This is with a side-by-side comparison. When I'm just using the mini alone, text doesn't look fuzzy.
post #21 of 42
Or is it saying the difference between the iPad 2 and the mini is negligeable? That I can believe.
post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post


I am amused that the term 'retina display' is really rather silly, however because Apple said it, the entire industry has adopted it even thought it doesn't really have any meaning. 

But it does have a meaning. It was informally given in the iPhone 4 event. They said it's a display with a higher ppi than a typical user can discern at a typical usage distance for the display in question. Granted, it's not an equation, but most words aren't defined to that kind of rigidity. There are ways to derive an equation assuming a certain use distance in conjunction with accepted figures on the visual acuity of a good eye to arrive at an approximate minimum ppi.
Edited by JeffDM - 11/2/12 at 10:37pm
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

There is no sacrifice. I looked at the mini and iPad 4 this afternoon and the resolution was extraordinary, indistinguishable. You'd have to be the princess with a pea under her mattress to find the difference important. 

But Gruber said he said there is a difference between the iPad 3 and iPad mini./s

 

Maybe he was wearing magnify glasses then. 


Edited by AdamC - 11/2/12 at 11:01pm
post #24 of 42
I was expecting to see how many NITS the screen puts out. With these screens it is the more the merrier for outside use. Guess we will have to wait.
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeromeus View Post


Just remember that Apple had shuffled some executives around and somewhere mentioned that products will be released when they're ready, not based on a cycle.  In other word, when the iPad mini 2 is ready, it'll be released; it won't be released just because April or March crawls around or that November 2013 is here.

 

Yeah, that's what they say. 1wink.gif

 

If sales indicate that people are happy with the screen then Apple will hold off on upgrading it until sales start to dip. And if they release it too early, folk will start to complain that they've been had (as they are doing now with the iPad4). 

post #26 of 42
Having tested both the iPad Mini and the 4. gen, there is a VERY marked difference in the quality of the screens. I won't be using the mini unless I need portability very much. It is the difference between HD and SD, and those saying or theorizing differently must have extremely bad eyes (Yes, I'm looking at you, Waldobushman!
post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

There is no sacrifice. I looked at the mini and iPad 4 this afternoon and the resolution was extraordinary, indistinguishable. You'd have to be the princess with a pea under her mattress to find the difference important. 

Just for some information- how old are you and do you use reader glasses?

Not being rude, just getting perspective.


Because I looked at both and it is noticeable for sure while reading safari text and email. Graphics- not really.

I'm 29 with perfect vision btw (via LASIK).

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post #28 of 42
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I'm thinking 2014 on that, myself. Solipsism makes a good point.

Then you'll miss out on the MEGAretina display that will launch in 2015...

post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogJack View Post


I am amused that the term 'retina display' is really rather silly, however because Apple said it, the entire industry has adopted it even thought it doesn't really have any meaning. 

No, it's not a silly term. It was defined and the industry has adopted it because it's a useful phrase.

It says that the resolution is fine enough that the average eye can not discern individual pixels. That's a reasonable target to shoot for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

There is no sacrifice. I looked at the mini and iPad 4 this afternoon and the resolution was extraordinary, indistinguishable. You'd have to be the princess with a pea under her mattress to find the difference important. 

It would depend on how good your vision is. In any event, I've used the iPad 2 and it was a gorgeous screen. The Mini will have even finer resolution, so it should be even better. The fact that there's something even better (Retina display) does not make this a bad display. It's a good display even though something better exists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haysdb View Post

Or is it saying the difference between the iPad 2 and the mini is negligeable? That I can believe.

I wouldn't say the difference is negligible. There is a clear trade-off to get the lower price point.

Note, however, the lousy work done by these investigators. Look at the pixel size of the iPad 4 on the two screens. Their scaling factor is different when comparing the iPad 2 and the iPad Mini. That makes it look like there's more difference between the Mini and the iPad 2 than there really is. Poor presentation of the results.
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post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

No, it's not a silly term. It was defined and the industry has adopted it because it's a useful phrase.
It says that the resolution is fine enough that the average eye can not discern individual pixels. That's a reasonable target to shoot for.

It's only not silly when it's apple that says it. A few months back, yourself and tallest skil were all about trying to tear down a chart that shows where lines of resolution aren't noticeable based on 20/20 vision and distance. But now with "retina", which also uses only 20/20 and distance, it's a useful phrase. Hypocrit much?

For the record- I believe in both, the chart for 1080, 720 etc and retina. To agree with one but not the other proves the bias.

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post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamC View Post

But Gruber said he said there is a difference between the iPad 3 and iPad mini. ...

 

Of all the people totally hung up on "Retina" displays, the ones that worship typefaces and salivate at the thought of a new font are the worst, and Gruber is firmly in that camp.  He made a career out of talking about the details of this sort of thing before Retina screens were even a glint in Steve Jobs' eye.  Of course he's going to go gaga over Retina displays and lose pretty much all objectivity about them.  

 

Just like audiophiles will argue about imaginary subjective differences in sound quality (that "only they can hear"), "Retina-ites" like Gruber will waffle on and on about "crispness" even though the average person won't even see the difference.  

post #32 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

It's only not silly when it's apple that says it. A few months back, yourself and tallest skil were all about trying to tear down a chart that shows where lines of resolution aren't noticeable based on 20/20 vision and distance. But now with "retina", which also uses only 20/20 and distance, it's a useful phrase. Hypocrit much?
For the record- I believe in both, the chart for 1080, 720 etc and retina. To agree with one but not the other proves the bias.

No, your inane fabrication of arguments proves your bias.

But feel free to try to show where I was hypocritical. Your silly fabricated memories don't count.
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post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

No, your inane fabrication of arguments proves your bias.
But feel free to try to show where I was hypocritical. Your silly fabricated memories don't count.

Quote:
Originally Posted by air2air View Post



You are wrong Tallest Skill. Zuzz is right.

If you want to experience and enjoy FULL HD format you shouldn't be farther to your 55 inch TV set then 2 times its diagonal. In this situation it should be maximum 110 inches (2.8 meters).


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Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Yes, there are always 'rules' that the 'purists' put out and expect people to follow. In reality, everyone is different and has different goals. I have a 55" TV that I watch from about 12 feet - and I enjoy it just the way it is. Moving forward to about 9 feet would make me feel claustrophobic. And for all the people who brag about how great 1080p is and how easy it is to see the difference, I say that you should be watching movies that make you more excited about the movie than about the number of pixels on the screen. The difference between DVD and Blu-Ray is quite small - even on my 55" set and even if I sit closer. Can I see a difference? Sure. But Avatar is every bit as enjoyable on DVD as on Blu-Ray. Content is more important than specs.


It's really no different than the home audio stuff that used to be the big bragging rights thing. Could you actually hear the difference between a $1000 cable and a $20 cable? Maybe. Barely. Under precisely controlled conditions. Is it something that mattered in the real world? Not a bit.

So again- retina is "useful" but distance on a TV and difference between a 480p DVD and 1080p Blu ray (bigger difference in pixels than retina and non-retina iPhones or iPads) the difference is "quite small".

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post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

So again- retina is "useful" but distance on a TV and difference between a 480p DVD and 1080p Blu ray (bigger difference in pixels than retina and non-retina iPhones or iPads) the difference is "quite small".
Thank you, come again.

So you've proven that you can't understand even simple English.

I stated quite clearly "Can I see a difference? Sure. ".

There is a difference. Personally, I don't think it's a big enough difference to get excited about, but it is a real difference and some people think it matters. Not to mention, of course, that there's a difference between a TV and a portable computing device.

So where's the hypocrisy? (Other than in your post, of course).
Edited by jragosta - 11/3/12 at 3:57pm
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post #35 of 42
As someone else already pointed out. The pixel density is the same as an iPhone 3G and 3GS. What's really amazing is how long apple spent talking about what size to make the screen and ultimately came up with the size that resulted in the dpi of a screen they already made.

For certain there will also be a retina mini using the same dpi as the current iPhone 5. It just doesn't make commercial sense to make the first version perfect as a lot of people will buy both.
post #36 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

As someone else already pointed out. The pixel density is the same as an iPhone 3G and 3GS. What's really amazing is how long apple spent talking about what size to make the screen and ultimately came up with the size that resulted in the dpi of a screen they already made.
For certain there will also be a retina mini using the same dpi as the current iPhone 5. It just doesn't make commercial sense to make the first version perfect as a lot of people will buy both.

No doubt- much like the iPad 2 which had monumental improvements. I'm guessing the dpi will fall in between the iPhone and iPad- ~290 ppi.

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post #37 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


I'm surprised they didn't inscribe something that says "get a life!"


No kidding. Using a microscope to confirm that the pixel size of iPad Mini is between of that iPad2 and iPad4 is akin to using GPS to confirm that you are in a different country after a flight.

post #38 of 42
I visited the Apple Store in Cincinnati today with my wife, and both she and I noticed a difference in the Mini screen compared to iPad Retina (4). That said, we were still very wowed with the iPad Mini. Very light, very solid, and very usable. I couldn't type nearly as well as on the full-sized iPad, but that's to be expected. All said and done, I will buy one -- I just have to decide whether to buy it with LTE or not.
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post #39 of 42
I don't necessarily see it as a terrible discontinuity, because there are two different regimes at play here, static and dynamic. Video can be lower resolution and the lack of resolution not be so noticeable. With still images and text, it's easier to see the resolution to be lacking in part because the visual cortex isn't being distracted by constant motion. Due to persistence of vision, motion blurs what you see, and motion blur is often applied to footage to make it seem more real.
Edited by JeffDM - 11/3/12 at 10:51pm
post #40 of 42
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

This is in contrast to the iPad 2, which has pixels double the size of the fourth-gen iPad's.

 

Wrong.  The pixels of the iPad 2 are four times the size of the iPad (4th-gen)'s, in terms of area.  Twice the width and twice the height means that they are four times larger.

 

Conversely, the pixels of the iPad (4th-gen) are one quarter the size of the iPad 2's, in terms of area.  One half the width and one half the height means that they are one quarter as large.

 

Net result: iPad (4th-gen) has 4 times the number of pixels that the iPad 2 has.

The "2x" resolution (264 ppi vs. 132 ppi) describes the linear resolution of the screen, not the surface area per pixel.

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