The Display

The big story behind the new iPad mini is of course its 7.85-inch Retina Display. We’re talking about the same 2048 x 1536 resolution as the iPad Air, but in a much smaller form factor. The result is the highest pixel density of any Apple display ships today, tying with the iPhone 5S. The impact on the overall experience is pretty significant. Text is obviously a lot sharper, but even graphics are a lot nicer to look at on the new Retina Display. The gains aren't quite as obvious as they were on the larger iPad, but after living with the Retina mini for a while I can't easily go back to the previous version.

iPad mini (left) vs. iPad mini with Retina Display (right)

I ran Marco Arment's image retention test on the Retina mini and didn't see even the slightest degree of image retention. My old, non-Retina iPad mini on the other hand exhibited image retention. I suspect Apple is multi-sourcing its displays here, which could obviously contribute to varied behavior. At least on the two minis I have, image retention isn't an issue.

In the conclusion of my iPad Air review I wrote about the new mini as finally being a no-compromises smaller iPad. Much like my assertions last year of a Retina mini not being in the cards, it turns out that I was wrong on this point as well. Although display resolution is no longer a concern on the mini, color gamut hasn’t changed between the old and new minis. A quick look at our gamut test gives us an idea of what’s going on:

The iPad mini with Retina Display has the same color gamut as the standard iPad mini, which is narrower than the iPad Air and less than the sRGB coverage we normally look for. The biggest issue here is that there are other smaller tablets in this price range that do offer sRGB coverage (e.g. Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX 8.9).

CalMAN Display Performance - Gamut Average dE 2000

I suspect the justification here is Apple likely views the bigger iPad as being a better fit for photographers/those who care about color reproduction, but it’s a shame that this is a tradeoff that exists between the two iPads especially given how good Apple is about sRGB coverage in nearly all of its other displays.

CalMAN Display Performance - Saturations Average dE 2000

One of the simplest visual tests is to use one of iOS 7’s more colorful wallpapers and compare the Retina mini and iPad Air side by side:

Pay attention to the color of the red triangles in the lower left

From left to right: iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina Display, iPad mini

The difference is small but apparent, particularly if you’re used to panels with full sRGB coverage like the iPad Air or any of the rMBPs/iMacs. The biggest deviations are in reds/blues and magenta in between as you can tell from the CIE chart above.

Within its gamut coverage, the mini’s panel is fairly accurate. A look at our GMB checker test shows performance competitive with the Nexus 7 and not far off the 4th generation iPad. Grayscale reproduction is also quite good. The display looks really good otherwise, but you don’t get the same visual punch you do on the iPad Air.

CalMAN Display Performance - Gretag Macbeth Average dE 2000

CalMAN Display Performance - Grayscale Average dE 2000

CalMAN Display Performance - White Point Average

Compared to the previous generation mini we’re obviously talking about a much better panel. But for those of you on the fence between the mini and Air, the Air does still hold a display advantage.

Black levels are competitive and contrast ratio stays fixed at around 800:1 regardless of whether we’re talking about max brightness or the 200 nits we run all of our battery life tests at. Max brightness is down a bit compared to the iPad Air.

Display Brightness - Black Level

Display Brightness - White Level

Display Contrast Ratio

The SoC & Performance Camera, WiFi & Cellular


View All Comments

  • ELPCU - Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - link

    Do research before talking about my knowledge or grammar.
    I am sorry about not born in US, so I have some grammer issue, but that does not make ur argument right.

    I will tell you some of real number.

    Source is IHS isuppli.
    They have done a clear analysis.

    If you want to argue this number is wrong, you should bring some kind of real number with decent source.

    Bill of material + manufacturing price of iphone 5s is 199bucks, while galaxy s4 BOM + manufacturing cost 237bucks. And I just check price of S4, which is 99 bucks with 2 year contract.

    Oh, I have not mentioned that S4 has SD card slot, so you do not have to worry about paying 100~200 bucks for extra storage.

    I know there are more expensive phones, mostly phablet. and I am sorry I do not have data for those expensive one, but their overall components cost & manufacturing cost generally more expensive than that of iphone, and those price usually go down eventually before new one release, while iphone price stays same until new iphone is released.

    When I buy it, my HTC One price was 199 with contract, and now, it cost 99. Oh, by the way, HTC One does not have SD card slot, but it does not have 16GB model, but 32GB or higher. Do you want to compare it with iphone 32GB?

    New HTC One Max-phablet-now costs 149. Any more question?
  • akdj - Thursday, December 19, 2013 - link

    Your (their) numbers are wrong. Apple isn't disclosing the pricing in the aluminum process, anodizing, chip construction NOR are they 'selling' them in bulk to you and I. I own a Galaxy Note3 and a 5s. There's no way in HELL the BOM of the S4 is higher than the 5s. Or the 5c for that matter. Doesn't take a genius to see Samsung's build quality isn't top tier. Displays are killer. Nice SoC. But the plastic's gotta go! And those numbers are assuming a LOT, considering an A7SoC isn't available. Nor is the calibrated screen, casing, proprietary schematics, etc. not sure what your point is here Reply
  • farhadd - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    I'm sure if LG, HTC, Samsung, etc could sell their products with the same margins they would. Apple has a monopoly on the iOS market, and thus can charge whatever they like and people have to pay it if they want the product. If Samsung wants to introduce a revolutionary proprietary mobile OS and charge through the nose for that product, they may certainly do so. As it is they have competition to worry about. Reply
  • ELPCU - Thursday, November 28, 2013 - link

    You are right. Most companies want to perform monopoly if they could(for example, if it is legal).
    But this does not mean doing monopoly is a good thing.

    Apple is not performing monopoly throughout whole smartphone market, so Yes, they are doing nothing illegal, but they are doing something ridiculus. At least I can say it is a bad thing. Criticizing those ridiculus price policy is a totally fair thing to do.

    Especially, considering all freaking apple product reviews became deceptive, pointing out the fact that Apple's pricing policy is ridiculus is fair. Why? because all reviews talk about price/performance with lowest storage iPad, and very strongly recommending it.

    I am tired of typing out same thing. so here is another copy paste

    "16GB is just not enough for iPad user. And review talks about Price/performance considering iPad cost just 499. To me, it just sounds like iPad cost starts like 599. Not just because 16GB iPad user feels lack of storage but also because Apple is intentionally holding its storage. 16GB was first gen iPad's base storage. IT IS STILL SAME for 5th generation!!"

    I will still buy ipad, and still recommend it for user who seek decent entertainment device, but I am not recommending it super-strongly, because its price is really deceptive.

    By the way, It is really interesting.

    My point of first comment was simple as hell.
    "ws3 was FREAKING WRONG AS HELL, and Apple's pricing is ridiculus."

    He said "Apple's margins are not insanely high, as proven by the fact that for most of their products, they sell everything they make. How long has the iPhone 5s been out now and most Apple stores still can't keep them in stock."

    Do you agree with him? You probably don't.
    and NO ONE is properly arguing my main point.

    However, bunch of guys pop out, and start to misinterpret my comment.

    Let me summarize them all, and do slightly different short answer again

    puggsly : No, he did not mean that
    My answer : WTF? go back and read his comment again

    Freerange1 : U failed blah blah
    My answer : meh

    akdj : I AM APPLE FAN BOI!, There is nothing wrong about a company making money! and BOM is not accurate way to measure margin"
    My answer : OK. dude. but whole point of my original comment was about the fact that Apple has insane margin rate, and its price is ridiculus. statement 'its price is ridiculus' is more personal opinion. I still think most people will not disagree Apple's pricing-especially storage-is just ridiculus, but since you admit you are a big apple fan. let's put this opinion on the side

    Do you disagree Apple have large margin rate? Probably u can't. Aren't u? that's reason why u bring out 'nothing is wrong about making money(having large margin)', because you cannot directly say Apple does not have large margin.

    Plus, Look at your expression. What "Apple DOES make money"?
    Oh, how cute. Again, let's face it. right expression is "Apple make A TONS OF money". Try not to hide what you see.

    darwinosx : Your numbers are wrong, and your grammer is wrong too!
    My answer : Any decent source? I used decent source from Market research site.
    Sorry for wrong grammer though.

    farhadd(YOU) : IT IS COMPETITION! A company can charge whatever price they want you to charge!
    My answer : MY MAIN POINT was 'Apple has insanely large margin rate, and its pricing is ridiculus.' At least, I had not said anything about "having large margin is wrong" or made similar statement in my original comment. AND ALSO, as I have mentioned I bought iPad 4th gen a year ago, and now I have iPad mini Retina 128GB.

    As a customer, can't I say its price is ridiculus?

    It seems if ur friend say "I bought this, but it was terribly expensive.", are u gonna answer "All company has right to decide price of their product. If it is terribly expensive, don't buy it and don't talk about it anymore" something like this?

    Yes, I probably used too harsh expression, but this is because ws3, whom I originally disputed, said something TOTALLY WRONG. Still, I might used too damn extreme expression, but I do not think I said something wrong. Do you think ws3 is right?

    Although I have picked up, and answered every single bit of those comments. None of you guy is properly(I mean with decent evidence) disputing my MAIN point.

    I am stoping HERE, because I feel none of you guy can disagree my main argument reasonably.
    I apologize for my harsh expression, but I feel you guys are enthusiastically excusing Apple rather than having disputing, which make me to use even more damn BS expression.
  • ekotan - Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - link

    I understand your point, but I don't see why it matters. Tablets are luxury products, not necessities; and all luxury products, by definition, command high margin.

    Yes, the margins are high. So what? People don't make purchasing decisions based on the manufacturers' margins, they make purchasing decisions based on the price of the product and its (perceived) value & benefits.
  • akdj - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    Interesting comment considering ALL flagship phones are charging $100 for each storage increase. As well, their non subsidized price being essentially equal! HTC One, S4, Note 3, G2---all $650-$700 phones, identical to the iPhone. WTF are you throwing a tizzy about? Smart businesses make money. Smarter businesses make more money with better products. Pretty simple, actually common sense Reply
  • guardian1935 - Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - link

    Your ridiculous spelling of ridiculous is ridiculous, sir. Reply
  • ELPCU - Monday, November 18, 2013 - link

    Winkgood // For iPad mini, I think it is sort of excusable.

    Yes, I sort of understand your argument as well.

    Apple generally keep price same. But note original ipad mini cost was pretty low. Not just in terms of absolute price, but also in terms of margin, its cost is not that high. 1st gen iPad mini has lowest margin rate among iOS device, which is still decent amount of margin.

    But making it as Retina cost a lot, as Mahadragon mentioned.

    Also, comparing increasing resolution of phone and iPad mini is not same. iPad mini has significantly large display with more pixels, which means diplay cost is much bigger matter for iPad mini, and battery size is bigger issue as well.

    Yes, iPad has not increased its price when it move into Retina display, but they sacrificed significant amount of margin per unit for that one. And iPad mini does not have that 'extra margin'.

    I cannot say too much about margin rate of iPad mini Retina since I do not have accurate number, but during iPad 3rd gen has about 40 bucks higher bill of material. compared to BOM of iPad 2 just after iPad 2 release. It refers Apple had to spent 40 bucks more for each iPad, which means they gave up about 60 bucks per unit price. Considering resolution of iPad mini and iPad are same, despite of size difference, I expect similar or slightly lower BOM increase.

    If Apple do not increase price to negate those manufacturing price, iPad mini 16gb wifi will go in about 'zero margin' area.

    Apple can still makes some money with their storage pricing(yeah, 100bucks per every bit of storage!! that's what I call rip-off! ), accessory, and App selling, but I do not think Apple is a company who want to sell zero margin tablet, and I do not think it is wise in terms of company strategy, considering current apple's position--strongest company in tablet market.
  • puggsly - Monday, November 18, 2013 - link

    I was wondering how Apple would both increase resolution and bump the CPU to the A7 and was surprised at the solution of upping the price. Not that it wasn't a good compromise but I'm afraid that Tim Cook is paying too close of attention to margin and missing the revenue boat. If people remember how shocked the tech community was that the first iPad hit a $499 price point at 16GB of storage, you know that Apple was charging a premium price for a premium product but that it was seen as a good value. Now here we are almost 4 years later and the entry level iPad and iPad Mini are 16GB!!! 4 years ago 16GB went further than it does today and Apple NEEDS to shift the entry level on it's products to continue to push the idea of Premium value.
    For many users 16GB will not be the premium user experience Steve Jobs demanded and Cook needs to balance that with margins. It will piss off some consumers but this can't wait till the next annual refresh. So maybe Cook does a Feb/Mar spec bump on the line to double the Storage and keep the price.
    Also, the cost of the cellular options needs to shift down to $70-$99 because the high end purchasers are going to balk as the price point climbs....I know I am. $629 for the 32GB mini with cellular is a tough choice. But at $499 I might end up with two this christmas.
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - link

    Iv'e bought four Nexus 7s as gifts but prefer the Mini for myself. 35% more screen space is a big deal and the apps are better with more selection. It's also quite a bit faster than the Nexus 7 which is very apparent if you have used both. The Nexus 7 is sold at cost so it's an amazing value but it also feels cheap compared to a Mini. Reply

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