Tablet rivals outperform iPad mini display

Posted by Shane McGlaun

The recently launched iPad mini hasn't been on the market for all that long, yet Apple has already managed to sell a huge number of units.

Nevertheless, the smaller Apple tablet has received its share of criticism for its allegedly less-than-stellar screen performance, at least compared to other iPad models. 

Recently, Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate took a very in-depth look at the iPad mini and its 7.9-inch display. He compared the device to similarly sized tablets already on the market such as the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. According to Soneira, Apple made a number of "poor choices" in regards to its display technology, resulting in a product that is less-than-perfect.

Soneira based his conclusions on the results of numerous lab tests, which were formulated to provide a complete assessment of the iPad mini's screen, including brightness, contrast, colors, intensities, viewing angles, display backlight power and battery runtime.

As Soneira notes, producing the iPad mini with a screen that matches the same resolution as the Retina displays found on the iPad and iPhone 5 would have required a panel with 326 pixels per inch across a screen roughly four times as big as the iPhone 5. However, Soneira says that type of screen was simply "out of the question" for Apple because of costs and manufacturing yields.

During testing, both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD outperformed the iPad mini in regards to sharpness. Color gamut was also another area of concern on the iPad mini display with the screen boasting only a 62% color gamut - which falls massively short of the Nexus and Fire HD - both of which offer an 86% color gamut. Of course, the third-generation iPad and iPhone 5 support 100% color gamut as well.

The iPad mini was also found to reflect 53% more ambient light than the Nexus tablet and 41% more light than the Fire HD, significantly increasing the glare factor of the device. It should be noted that the iPad mini did manage to achieve good scores for picture quality and accurate color reproduction.

"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 explained. "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."