iPad mini with Retina display’s colour gamut disappoints

Madeleine Swain
19 November, 2013
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Several websites, including MacRumors and AppleInsider, have begun reporting a fly in the ointment of the iPad mini with Retina display, which was quietly released into the marketplace last week. The selling point of the newest, not-quite smallest iPad (it’s 0.3mm deeper than the first-gen iPad mini and weighs 23g more) is, of course, its Retina display, so reports that it is showing a smaller range of colours have caused something of a ripple of concern.

Anandtech claims that despite the upgrade in performance and resolution, the iPad mini with Retina display has been given the same colour gamut as the first-generation iPad mini. That resolution, at 2048 x 1536, is the same as in the iPad Air, although on a 7.85in display – ensuring the highest pixel density of any Apple device, equal to that of the iPhone 5s. The colours, however, have not undergone an equivalent upgrade.

“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),” says Anand Lal Shimpi of Anandtech.

And if you’re not quite sure what ‘colour gamut’ means, AppleInsider explains: “Measuring colour gamut means, broadly, measuring the subset of colours a display can reproduce within a larger, predefined range… Differences in colour reproduction are quantified with a measurement called Delta-E, which represents the difference between the colour the display is asked to reproduce and the colour the display actually shows.”

MacRumors does note however, that tests comparing the 7.9in 4:3 Retina iPad mini with 7in 16:10 tablets like Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX 7 aren’t exactly comparing apples with apples.

So when DisplayMate’s Ray Soneira conducted his ‘shoot-out’ between these three devices and awarded the Retina iPad mini “a distant third place finish” due to its “same, small 63 percent colour gamut as the original iPad mini and even older iPad 2“, MacRumors stresses the difference size and ratio make. “The 35 percent larger display area for the iPad mini [with Retina display] would result in substantially higher costs if Apple were to shift to a different display technology such as LTPS,” notes the website.

LTPS stands for Low Temperature Poly Silicon LCDs, the screens utilised by Amazon and Google, while Apple has chosen to stick with IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology.




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