We’ve recently seen a very basic (and somewhat questionable) comparison of the iPad Mini’s screen to the iPad 4 and iPad 2, but it mostly dealt with pixel size and not the actual quality of the display. What we need is a display expert to determine methodologically how good the iPad Mini’s screen really is. Lucky for us, Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate just posted a 3-way shootout between the displays of Apple’s iPad Mini, Google’s Nexus 7, and Kindle’s Amazon Fire HD. The results just might surprise you.
Dr. Soneira has, in the past, praised Apple for the quality of their displays. In particular, DisplayMate’s president and expert praised Apple for the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5, not just for the high resolution ‘Retina’ display, but for producing mobile displays with the full 100% of the sRGB Color Gamut used to produce content. According to Soneria, the aging iPad 2 and the iPad 4 would score between 61 and 64% of the color gamut, and the iPad Mini has backslid to these figures to a disappointing 62%.
By comparison, competing Android tablets performed much better on the shootout in most areas. Not only do the 1280 by 800 displays on the smaller screens work out to 216 ppi in display density, the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus both have displays that are capable of displaying a very decent 86% of the standard color gamut. In terms of reflection the Android tablets also beat the iPad Mini, which suffers from 12.1% of specular mirror reflection (the most annoying kind of screen reflection). While the Android tablets had their advantages, their screens were not equal.
The Kindle Fire HD beat out the Nexus 7 in color calibration. This is a surprising development, as the Kindle Fire HD loses to the Nexus 7 in most other performance benchmarks. The reason for the difference in quality seems to be calibration: while the Kindle Fire HD’s calibration is on par with the iPad Mini’s (with accurate color and contrast), the Nexus 7 suffers from comparatively “washed out” looking videos and images. The Nexus 7 also suffers from issues with saturation and clipping in color, as well as peak compression, meaning gradients may not look smooth.
Of the budget tablets, the Kindle Fire HD offers the best display of the bunch by most of DisplayMates measures. The iPad Mini’s display, unfortunately, is not on par with Apple’s latest flagship products, but compensates with “very good” factory calibration. The Nexus 7’s screen might be more powerful on paper, but has issues. The overall assessment of the tablets by DisplayMate is:
Kindle Fire HD: A-
Nexus 7: B- [possibly salvageable to B+ with firmware updates]
iPad Mini: B
Do you agree with DisplayMate’s assessment of the iPad Mini’s screen? Did the shootout make you rethink getting the Nexus 7 over the Kindle Fire HD? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.