iPad mini display found to be 'just very capable,' outperformed by rivals

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An in-depth look at iPad mini's display found the 7.9-inch panel to be wanting in many areas where Apple usually excels, such as color gamut, and is surpassed by competing devices from Google and Amazon.

In his "iPad mini Display Technology Shoot-Out," Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate pitted Apple's new mid-size tablet against the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and found a number of compromises and "poor choices" resulted in a less-than perfect product.

The comprehensive test used lab measurements and multiple viewing tests with both test patterns and test images to assess the devices' screen reflectivity, brightness and contrast, colors and intensities, viewing angles, display backlight power consumption, and running time on battery.

iPad mini


Perhaps the most discussed attribute of the iPad mini's screen is its low pixel count relative to the Retina display units found in other current iOS devices like the full-size iPad and iPhone 5. Soneira noted that such a panel would have required a 326-pixel per inch pixel density over more than four times the real estate of the iPhone 5. Citing cost and manufacturing yields, he said such a screen is "out of the question." Because Apple has traditionally used the screen resolutions of 1,024 by 768 pixels and 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, compatibility called for the mini to retain a pixel density of 163ppi.

Both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD outperformed the mini in sharpness tests.

Nexus 7
Google's Nexus 7.


"While screen Resolution gets lots of attention from both consumers and marketers ? it?s really only critical for providing visually sharp text ? but that applies for most applications running on a Tablet," Soneira wrote. "The $199 Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 both have considerably sharper displays with 216 Pixels Per Inch, and they both delivered considerably sharper text."

He went on to say that Apple could have used sub-pixel rendering to sharpen on-screen images and text, much like the technology used in other tablets with relatively low resolutions.

Two other major areas of concern for the iPad mini were in its color gamut and screen reflectance. Apple's tablet fell surprisingly short with an "antiquated" 62 percent color gamut, compared to the Nexus and Kindle's 86 percent. The return to previous-generation LCD technology marks a huge step backwards from the 100 precent color gamut found in the third-generation iPad and iPhone 5.

As for screen reflectance, the mini reflected 53 percent more ambient light than the Nexus and 41 percent more than the Fire, a significant problem for an ultra-portable tablet meant to be used in a wide variety of situations.

Kindle Fire HD
Amazon's Kindle Fire HD.


Despite the shortcomings, Apple's device was able to achieve high picture quality and accurate color reproduction due to color management processing not usually found in tablets and smartphones.

"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," Soneira said, pointing out the less expensive Amazon and Google tablets outperform the mini in many tests. "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."

Soneira's findings come just days after the iPad mini's screen was literally put under the microscope and compared with the original iPad, the iPad 2, and the fourth-generation iPad.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 105


    If the 4x retina display is way too expensive for the mini, I really hope Apple would reconsider another resolution for iPad mini 2. Yes the dev would have to do more work for sure, but if let's say they need 2 years to get the mini to adopt 4x resolution, I say forget about it and just do a 2x resolution. It's not the end of the world for the devs. Android has a lot more resolutions and it's a hassle but a lot of apps still can do it fine on Android. 

  • Reply 2 of 105
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,607member
    Like I've said before, I'm waiting on a Retina iPad mini. After using a Retina iPad for months and a Retina iPhone for three years, I can't go back.
  • Reply 3 of 105
    Well I like the look of it, and since i am into the eco-system, especially with Apps, I ordered a ATT one, to replace my iPad 3. I like the idea of lighter and thinner - i will replace this if/when the iPad 3 replacement appears.
    KInda wish this version mini did have higher res display - but i can really only know that for sure after a couple days of use
  • Reply 4 of 105
    It's amazing how appealing the iPad mini is to about 89% of the population. Us nerds here on AI think we represent most users. We don't. Most of us (ie., our parents) could give a shit about 'color gamut'.

    Only the nerds at Google and Samsung bring these things up, especially when they flaunt CPU cores and VRAM, and bandy about those specs to old people as if they were retirement savings specifications, which is something they do give a shit about.

    It's funny watching Apple reps have to talk about cores and RAM and gamut; it makes them cringe, as it doesn't define the experience nor the way their products are intended to be used.
  • Reply 5 of 105
    @drobforever retina is 2x the resolution, which is 4x the number of pixels. Yes, Android has many resolutions and developers piss and moan about it. You don't understand the craft of finely tuning a great app UI and then having to modify it for various sizes.

    Additionally, a higher resolution screen would need a bigger battery, which would make the device thicker and heavier and challenge getting a good 10 hours of use.

    However, lower color gamut as reported here **I guess** is disappointing, except for that they turn around and say the color is accurate because of software processing%u2026so%u2026is this really a problem?
  • Reply 6 of 105
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,728member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post



    It's amazing how appealing the iPad mini is to about 89% of the population. Us nerds here on AI think we represent most users. We don't. Most of us (ie., our parents) could give a shit about 'color gamut'.

    Only the nerds at Google and Samsung bring these things up, especially when they flaunt CPU cores and VRAM, and bandy about those specs to old people as if they were retirement savings specifications, which is something they do give a shit about.

    It's funny watching Apple reps have to talk about cores and RAM and gamut; it makes them cringe, as it doesn't define the experience nor the way their products are intended to be used.




    I'm  so fed up with the "Spec whores" spewing irrelevant crap out of their mouths like it actually is the end-all-be-all.  Of course, that's why their junk is selling so much better than Apple's offerings right??  Certainly, the countless of millions of satisfied Apple consumers are all brainwashed sheep and not because the Android offering have been downright garbage right?

  • Reply 7 of 105

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by drobforever View Post


    If the 4x retina display is way too expensive for the mini, I really hope Apple would reconsider another resolution for iPad mini 2. Yes the dev would have to do more work for sure, but if let's say they need 2 years to get the mini to adopt 4x resolution, I say forget about it and just do a 2x resolution. It's not the end of the world for the devs. Android has a lot more resolutions and it's a hassle but a lot of apps still can do it fine on Android. 





    It goes from 1x to 4x or 9x.  It is double the width and double the length.  Also, I think that Apple wants to conform the same screen size.  In the iPhone5 comes out with an extra row of icon, it happens that most of the apps are conformed to the iPhone4 standard.  So a lot of apps do not take advantage of the extra row.  Over time, Apple wants to have one screen format for tablet, another for phone to allow compatibility for software.  There are so many different shapes and sizes for Android devices, it will drive the developers crazy.

  • Reply 8 of 105

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post



    It's amazing how appealing the iPad mini is to about 89% of the population. Us nerds here on AI think we represent most users. We don't. Most of us (ie., our parents) could give a shit about 'color gamut'.

    Only the nerds at Google and Samsung bring these things up, especially when they flaunt CPU cores and VRAM, and bandy about those specs to old people as if they were retirement savings specifications, which is something they do give a shit about.

    It's funny watching Apple reps have to talk about cores and RAM and gamut; it makes them cringe, as it doesn't define the experience nor the way their products are intended to be used.


    You've got a good point, but not in the case of measurements of screen quality.  If a processor is 20% slower than that in a competing product, the difference may not be noticeable because of software optimizations and because processor speed isn't something we have a direct sense of.  On the other hand, measurements of screen quality are immediately apparent to people.  You don't need a number for coverage of the standard color gamut to see how colorful a display is.  Anyone could look at two screens side by side and tell you which is more colorful or which is sharper.

  • Reply 9 of 105
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,607member
    sflocal wrote: »
     Certainly, the countless of millions of satisfied Apple consumers are all brainwashed sheep and not because the Android offering have been downright garbage right?

    The truth is somewhere in the middle. Just look at the drones that queue in line for the latest iDevice or camp out for days. Even I'm not immune; I just HAVE to get the latest iPhone no matter if I really need it or not. Hell, I even paid $250 extra for upgrading early from my iPhone 4S to my iPhone 5 under contract.
  • Reply 10 of 105
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,728member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post





    The truth is somewhere in the middle. Just look at the drones that queue in line for the latest iDevice or camp out for days. Even I'm not immune; I just HAVE to get the latest iPhone no matter if I really need it or not. Hell, I even paid $250 extra for upgrading early from my iPhone 4S to my iPhone 5 under contract.




    I'm not saying smack about that.  The folks that line up at Apple stores I think represent the very small minority of all the buyers of Apple gear.  I waiting in line for the first iP4 back in 2010 just to say I did it and it was a totally fun experience which I don't think I would do again.  To each their own on that.  Some I think are too hardcore.



    The millions upon millions of people that buy Apple gear just do not represent the jerks that infest this forum that mouth-off "pixels", Ghz, Tegra, and "mommy, can you fix me dinner?" nonsense.  The blogs of wannabe journalists just fan the flames because that provides web-hits, whether it's true or not.  Just gets really old.

  • Reply 11 of 105
    ivladivlad Posts: 742member
    This is what happens when Apple spoils us with high resolution tech. Lol, I think apple had to introduce something at $330, even if they make 48% profit now they will introduce retina version next year for the same price at, maybe, at 20% profit. This way apple doesn't have to increase any price. They now have a device in every price csttegory, which is pretty amazing for business.8-)
  • Reply 12 of 105
    For the record, I only understand the true advantages of the iPad mini when my wife bought one.

    It's lighter, more portable, can put in your jacket pocket, and the speed is good enough.

    I tested side by side with my iPad 3 on games, iBooks, surfing same web pages, Zinio magazines for the last 3 days.

    I have come to the conclusion that the iPad mini is muh better in very way than the iPad 3 I have. Now I pick up my iPad 3 and it feels like a stack of heavy plates.

    I even downloaded the new Need for Speed and it ran smoothly on the iPad mini. I even compared side by side and it was very hard to tell the difference. Ofcourse the retina iPad was better but not enough to make a big difference. It made me look at the mini and say wow. No lags, in fact my iPad 3 lagged in areas because of the high res screen.

    I am totally sold, will sell my iPad 3 for a mini.

    Don't believe the reviews and other people comment here until you fully tested it side by side for a few days in every app. You will be pleasantly surprised!!!!
  • Reply 13 of 105
    kpomkpom Posts: 653member
    Let's not sugar coat things. The iPad mini made some compromises because Apple figured, probably quite correctly, that it could get away with it for now. My guess is that it gets a Retina Display in a year or two once yields improve. At that point, it might well supplant the 9.7" iPad as Apple's most popular tablet. For now, I see this product having lots of appeal with women (because of the size), children, schools, and budget conscious people who want access to the Apple ecosystem
  • Reply 14 of 105
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,670member
    moustache wrote: »
    For the record, I only understand the true advantages of the iPad mini when my wife bought one.
    It's lighter, more portable, can put in your jacket pocket, and the speed is good enough.
    I tested side by side with my iPad 3 on games, iBooks, surfing same web pages, Zinio magazines for the last 3 days.
    I have come to the conclusion that the iPad mini is muh better in very way than the iPad 3 I have. Now I pick up my iPad 3 and it feels like a stack of heavy plates.
    I even downloaded the new Need for Speed and it ran smoothly on the iPad mini. I even compared side by side and it was very hard to tell the difference. Ofcourse the retina iPad was better but not enough to make a big difference. It made me look at the mini and say wow. No lags, in fact my iPad 3 lagged in areas because of the high res screen.
    I am totally sold, will sell my iPad 3 for a mini.
    Don't believe the reviews and other people comment here until you fully tested it side by side for a few days in every app. You will be pleasantly surprised!!!!
    I think the majority would feel the same way. Ease of use has a lot to do with weight and size. Unless the screen is so bad that it ruins the experience it just won't make a difference. The light portable one wins the day. When the user experience is great specs are of little importance. It reminds me of a story where rich young man is eyeing a Rollls Royce Silver Spur and asks the salesman how many horsepower it has. The salesman looks at the young man for a moment and then replies: Plenty.
  • Reply 15 of 105

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    An in-depth look at iPad mini's display found the 7.9-inch panel to be wanting in many areas where Apple usually excels, such as color gamut, and is surpassed by competing devices from Google and Amazon.

    In his "iPad mini Display Technology Shoot-Out," Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate ......


    Yeah, that's the why it will bomb, and why Apple is doomed.™


     


    Who the heck is 'DisplayMate' anyway? Just going by the name, sounds like some third-rate doofus Toys R'Us outfit that AI just made famous....

  • Reply 16 of 105


    Just in case some of you already forgot...


     


     


    No matter what type of media...movies, music, books, photos and web pages look better and sound better on the Kindle Fire HD than any iPad.

  • Reply 17 of 105


    Got my mini at Walmart on Friday and I agree. The form factor, the light weight, and the build quality are all pretty damn close to perfect. The display is adequate, but is the obvious weak point for anyone who has owned a retina iPad or iPhone or high-res Android phone or tablet. Overall, it's still damn good, but not quite an absolute home run because of that display.

  • Reply 18 of 105
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    mazda 3s wrote: »
    Like I've said before, I'm waiting on a Retina iPad mini. After using a Retina iPad for months and a Retina iPhone for three years, I can't go back.

    I see this Mini as a proof of concept machine, much like iPad 1 established that there was indeed a market for a well done tablet. As far as pixel count goes Apple could always shoot for a odd multiplier, say 1.5 or what ever works well in binary for next year. I suspect the limitation Apple has is in managing battery power usage or life, something that is important to many users.

    Me I'm trying to resist buying an iPad 4 this year and frankly don't have a use for the Mini right now. Instead I will engage in admiration from afar.
  • Reply 19 of 105
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    I never understood those that felt the Mini was a bad idea. People on the move will gobble this up big time.
    moustache wrote: »
    For the record, I only understand the true advantages of the iPad mini when my wife bought one.
    It's lighter, more portable, can put in your jacket pocket, and the speed is good enough.
    I tested side by side with my iPad 3 on games, iBooks, surfing same web pages, Zinio magazines for the last 3 days.
    I have come to the conclusion that the iPad mini is muh better in very way than the iPad 3 I have. Now I pick up my iPad 3 and it feels like a stack of heavy plates.
    I even downloaded the new Need for Speed and it ran smoothly on the iPad mini. I even compared side by side and it was very hard to tell the difference. Ofcourse the retina iPad was better but not enough to make a big difference. It made me look at the mini and say wow. No lags, in fact my iPad 3 lagged in areas because of the high res screen.
    I am totally sold, will sell my iPad 3 for a mini.
    Don't believe the reviews and other people comment here until you fully tested it side by side for a few days in every app. You will be pleasantly surprised!!!!
  • Reply 20 of 105
    enzosenzos Posts: 344member


    The things geeks obsess over! Like a bunch of ten-year olds arguing over the merits of marbles in the schoolyard. 


     


    Played with one yesterday and the screen is not going to be an issue for most users. Beautiful industrial design, light, balanced and well-sized to hold, with the bare minimum display area for easy use of iPad apps. And the thing is Responsive, web pages load and render quickly, photos look great, the cameras are great for what they are meant for. Since small text display on mini leaves a bit to be desired, I expect by this time next year a 300-dpi edition (with A6) will have come out and this one will be sold a bit cheaper for the value-buyer-, education, etc. markets. 


     


     


    Enz

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