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Is the iPad mini’s screen too low resolution?

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Is the iPad mini’s screen too low resolution?

Does the iPad mini’s screen have too few pixels, lagging behind its similarly-sized rivals the Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7? According to DisplayMate’s Raymond Soneira, it does.

Soneira calls the iPad mini “a very capable small tablet” in his review of the device, but is disappointed by the screen. It’s traditional for Apple devices, he says, to provide the best display among their contemporaries, and the fact that the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch screen boasts a resolution of merely 1024 x 768 goes against that tradition. He goes on to say the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 “outperform” the iPad mini’s screen in DisplayMate’s tests.

The Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 have slightly smaller screens than the iPad mini, a fact which Apple was keen to highlight during its launch event. However they also have higher resolutions (1280 x 800 in both cases), meaning they have a higher pixel density and the screens appear sharper.

Apple would probably point to the iPad mini’s opening weekend sales figures of three million when asked if the screen is of sufficient quality, but Soneira does have a point: this, coupled with the Google Nexus 10 having a “sharper-than-Retina Display” screen, means Apple is no longer at the forefront of display quality for tablets. And this on tablets that cost significantly more than their Android-based equivalents.

It does, of course, mean that Apple has somewhere to go when it launches the iPad mini’s inevitable second-generation model: a Retina Display-quality screen on a small tablet is still yet to appear.

Do you think Apple has missed a trick by using a lower resolution screen on the iPad mini? Give us your opinion in the comments box below.

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PGrGr

November 6, 2012, 5:04 pm

Soneira makes for some interesting reading. On the source website that you quoted, he implicitly criticises websites such as TrustedReviews, for focusing too much on "marketing puffery". For example, in the article here, you write:

"this, coupled with the Google Nexus 10 having a "sharper-than-Retina Display" screen, means Apple is no longer at the forefront of display quality for tablets."

However, Soneira explains that "sharper-than-Retina" resolution is pointless marketing, because the whole point of a "retina" display is to have a resolution great enough that the human eye would not be able to discern a single pixel from a standard viewing distance. A "greater-than-retina" resolution would therefore add nothing to the viewing experience.

At the same time, Soneira looks at other, far more important things in the overall viewing experience, such as the reflectivity of the display, and the colour gamut. Now I always used to think that worrying about the colour gamut of a device is overly geeky and wouldn't be noticed in use. I came to realise the importance of colour gamuts when I ordered some prints and was disappointed to discover that they looked significantly different on paper to how they looked on the screen of my device. So, whilst the average consumer shouldn't need to be concerned about the highly technical science, the end result is crucially important for the experience.

The reviews would indeed be "trusted" if you looked a bit more objectively at these issues, and beyond the marketing.

Seymour Cat

November 6, 2012, 8:05 pm

"It does, of course, mean that Apple has somewhere to go when it launches the iPad mini's inevitable second-generation model"

Hit the nail on the head there. Apple know that the iSheep will happily queue up to be relieved of over £300, getting them to do it again 12 months later is a work of genius.

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