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

  • rake36 - Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - link

    It costs less than half as much. Currently $239 for 32GB version... Reply
  • Walkop - Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - link

    I'd like to comment that the Nexus 7 2013's power consumption on the display is incredibly low even at maximum brightness (which is extremely high, overall).

    1.7 watts. That's literally HALF the power consumption of the Retina Mini at max brightness, which is 32% dimmer than the Nexus 7. That alone is a massive gain; you should be able to use the Nexus 7 at maximum brightness much longer than the Mini. Not that this is a normal use case, but it IS good to know.

    See here:
  • tigmd99 - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    Did you not read his last paragraph? Or are you just a blind Android fanboy? Reply
  • BPB - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    Yes, read it. No, not at all.

    I had to leave AT&T for work reasons so I had to give up my 920, which I loved. Have an HTC One and like it, but don't love it. I think too many Android apps are wanting, and I know in many cases the iOS version is better. My point is that this site's love for Apple knows no bounds. As soon as its founder switched it was all over, Apple could do no wrong. Yes, this is a nice device, no doubt. But the Nexus 7 is nice, and it's close to half the price. What does it take to simply admit that the 7 is probably the better buy for a person making a first time purchase? You pay 57% of what the mini costs! That's some deal in my mind, and yet I have no intention of buying either. I will probably get my daughter a Windows 8.1 tablet with good pen support so she can use OneNote, she is in college. My brother's family is all iOS, so I get them Apple related gifts. They're all good and have their strengths. But here, at this site, Apple is treated differently. If you don't think so just ask WP users.
  • tigmd99 - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    Why must he address every possibility or buying option? He stated that N7 is a very good alternative and cheaper. What do you want him to say? That it is superior in every way to iPad Mini? That would be stupid, no?

    A7 is far superior to Nexus 7 processor...far superior. App store, customer service, HD movies, etc. are better in iOS. (I have both at home, Note 2, Nexus 7 [2012], iPhones.) Do these things make up for the price difference? Well, only the end-user can determine that, which is kinda what Anandtech wrote.

    Be fair.
  • Tetracycloide - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    Because addressing the single most competitive alternative is 'addressing every option.' Please... Reply
  • KPOM - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    My guess is that people considering an iPad mini aren't looking at Windows 8.1 devices. They are targeted more toward the iPad Air buyer. The Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle HDX are the two devices most comparable to the iPad mini. Reply
  • kyuu - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    There are 8-inch Win8.1 tabs that are cheaper than the iPad Mini. Only reason someone wouldn't look at them is out of ignorance. Reply
  • abazigal - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    The reason I wouldn't consider windows tablets is simply because they don't meet my needs at all.

    Why would I want a 16:9 tablet running a desktop OS with apps still sporting a desktop UI?
  • sirfergy - Sunday, November 17, 2013 - link

    The Dell is 16:10, <$299 and amazing. Full PC plus excellent touch experience. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now