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Retina iPad mini display: High density, narrow color-gamut, possible image retention

The Retina iPad mini promises all the pixels of the iPad Air at the density of the iPhone 5s. That's 2048x1536 at 326ppi. If that sounds like a screen-dream come true, in many ways it is. Unfortunately, the Retina iPad mini only provides the same, narrower color gamut of the original iPad mini. That translates into reds that appear slightly less saturated on the Retina iPad mini than they do on any of the full-sized Retina iPads, or Retina iPhones. Anand Lal Shimpi ran his usual, comprehensive battery of tests for AnandTech:

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.

It's most apparent when you put a Retina iPad mini beside an iPad Air.

For most people, especially people only using an iPad mini, it will likely pose no problem whatsoever. Those with both a full sized Retina iPad, as well as photographers, digital painters, and those with especially keen color sense, might want to take a careful look before taking a purchase plunge.

Personally, and I say this as someone with a design background, I forget about it after using the Retina iPad mini for while (the human brain is remarkable at environmental correction). However, it's disappointing to say the least that Apple hasn't pushed the same panel quality down to the iPad mini line yet. Hopefully the economics and positioning work our better next time.

There have also been some reports of image retention on the iPad mini with Retina display, similar to what plagued the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro. I've tried Marco Arment's test on multiple units now, and haven't experienced it. Often, however, it depends on the panel supplier and even batch, so if you do have the problem, don't hesitate to take it back to Apple as soon as possible and swap it for one that's not affected (run the test in the store!).

If you're contemplating a Retina iPad mini, how much, if at all, does color gamut matter to you? If you have a Retina iPad mini, are you noticing either the color gamut or image retention?

Source: AnandTech

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I'm considering buying one. Guess I'll test my luck and see if I get lucky and have no issues with one. Sent from the iMore App
  • This is one of those issues that won't make any real difference to me. I guess I'm just not observant enough to even notice these things. I'm still trying to decide between the Air and the Mini with Retina so it is great to have this kind of info available.
  • If you travel a lot or are on the move a lot get the mini, if you are a home user mostly get the air. Having gone through the burn in issue with the MacBook Pro retina I'm glad I got the air.
  • How can I test for image retention? I get my mini in the mail on Tuesday Sent from the iMore App
  • Link is in the article:
  • As a professional photographer who uses an iPad during every appointment with clients, I can say that I'm thrilled that I chose the iPad Air. Every little bit makes a difference. That said, were I not a pro, I would have gone with the mini for the form factor alone. Still, lack luster color is a surprise/disappointment.
  • After buying a first-gen mini last year, I swore I'd never go back to full-size. But after comparing the retina mini and the Air side-by-side, I couldn't get past the difference in color quality. The color on the Air looked *much* better to my eyes--much more vivid and true-to-life. (Then again, I'm a semi-serious photographer, and I plan to use the iPad to view and show off photos, so that probably matters to me more than most.) So I decided to go with the iPad Air--this time. If they improve the color on the screen of the mini in the next couple of years, I could definitely see myself switching back to the smaller form factor.
  • Corners had to be cut somewhere to make the mini profitable. Looks like we found out where. Sent from the iMore App
  • They raised the price $70 and we are supposed to believe they have a legit reason to produce these with inferior screens? How high does Apple's profit margin need to be? I ordered one of these the day it was available and it is due this week. After reading about the screen I'm considering going to the Air or even not purchasing an iPad. The 32gb retina mini is nearly 2x the price of its Nexus 7 counterpart which is a joke.
  • 2x the cpu too and larger screen(7 vs 7.9) at 4x3 When they charge $499 for the same internals.. only different chassis and screen.. ah huh..
  • I've never had an issue with the screen on my original iPad mini. I decided to upgrade this year for the A7, not the retina display. As long as the color on my new mini isn't WORSE than the color on the old one, I probably won't even notice. That being said, its disappointing the screen is not as good as it could be, especially since there was a price hike for it.
  • I've had a mini since last year and enjoyed it. However, I'm going back to full size this time. The air is small enough to be comfortable now and I prefer having more real estate for gestures and some of the games I play. Mini has been great, but really lags on some applications. Sent from the iMore App
  • Well with the updated hardware the mini will no longer lag. The original mini was running 2+year old hardware Sent from the iMore App
  • I think this is a deal-breaker for me. I'm only getting '1/2 a Retina Display' with the color gamut issues, and for the extra money they're charging, I guess I feel cheated. I think they rushed this one out the door, and it shows. The rMini is going back...
  • And FYI - I checked out some competing Android tablets, and several have screens similar in size (some even larger) that are Retina quality (326PPI +) AND are sRGB. Plus they're 1/2 the cost. So Apple could have done it if they had wanted to.
  • <<<Here’s the logic behind such a display. Displays aren’t manufactured at their finished size; rather, they’re made on big sheets, and then cut to size. I believe the iPad Mini (or whatever it’s going to be called) uses the same display as the iPhone 3GS. So instead of cutting these sheets into 3.5-inch 480 × 320 displays for the iPhone 3GS, they’ll cut them into 7.85-inch 1024 × 768 displays for the smaller iPad. Same exact display technology, though — display technology that Apple has been producing at scale ever since the original iPhone five years ago. These are displays Apple knows they can produce efficiently and in enormous quantities. All they have to do is cut them into bigger pieces.>>> With that in mind, this retina Mini probably uses the iphone 4/4S sheets. That retina screen didn't have a full color gamut either. Let's keep in mind how Apple chose the Mini's size in the first place...
  • The iPad mini has an IPS display but the 3GS doesn't. The ppi is the same but the technology is much different.
    Then again the IPS technology could be separately added. Like iPhone 4 and iPod touch 4 had the same ppi but different screen quality.
  • I've been using mine since Wednesday and I'm fine with the display. It's better than my mini 1st gen and more convenient than my iPad 3. If I only used it at home and/or wanted to replace my laptop, I'd consider the iPad Air. But, like last year, portability trumps screen quality for my current needs.
  • Honestly, with no Touch ID, I'm waiting on my purchase of the iPad. I'm still on number 2. And, no, I don't feel like an animal entering a pass code, but am used to the 5s finger scanner and am giving the finger to Apple until the new iPad comes with it. Sent from the iMore App
  • my iPad air got weird problem in the screen where the left screen is slightly yellowish then the right one, immediately change it in store.
  • This is very surprising Sent from the iMore App
  • I am definitely in the Air camp, but glad to know this information anyway. This would definitely bother me if I were to purchase a Mini and have it afflicted as described. Thanks for the info Sent from the iMore App
  • How do these compare to the color gamut of the iPod touch 5th generation?
    I find this device to be sadly neglected in many comparisons. Sent from the iMore App
  • I believe the latest iPod touch uses the exact same screen as the iPhone 5. That screen uses the in-cell touch technology--The touch sensor is integrated into the LCD itself.
  • This is not a deal breaker for me. When I edit photos I do it on my desktop. Other than that this is just for convenient data content
  • For most normal consumers something like this won't really matter. I don't think it'd change my mind either if I wanted a Mini. I'm going for an Air either way. Sent from the iMore App
  • I am a professional photographer, and I will be buying the new iPad min with Retina display. As long as the colour gamut of the new display is no worse than my current iPad mini, I'll be happy. Would I have preferred a better colour gamut this time around? Sure, but I use the iPad mini for those times when I'm on the road and need to save the maximum amount of weight (so as to be able to bring more photo gear, usually :) ). My iPad minis mostly used for blogging and quick photo uploads when I'm on the road. It was never (and never will be) used for critical photo editing, and neither is my Macbook Pro (even though it is calibrated frequently). If I had an iPad Air, that would not be used for critical image editing either. Critical image editing is always done back at the studio, on a recently calibrated high colour gamut monitor. Always! That said, it is still a little disappointing that Apple chose a lesser display technology for their newest iPad mini.
  • I think that considering all of the set backs Apple had putting the Retina on the Mini, it's pretty impressive that this is the only flaw! I'm sure it will be just fine for most people, I'm not certain photo editing on a Mini is very optimal anyway Sent from the iMore App
  • Serious photographers still use their MacBook to edit. iPad edits are quick and dirty. I don't think this will make any difference for 99% of people out there. It's so nit picky. Having said that, I think this helps me settle towards the air for my next purchase. Sent from the iMore App
  • Serious photographers still use their MacBook to edit. iPad edits are quick and dirty. I don't think this will make any difference for 99% of people out there. It's so nit picky. Having said that, I think this helps me settle towards the air for my next purchase. Sent from the iMore App
  • Serious photographers still use their MacBook to edit. iPad edits are quick and dirty. I don't think this will make any difference for 99% of people out there. It's so nit picky. Having said that, I think this helps me settle towards the air for my next purchase. Sent from the iMore App
  • Great photo comparisons. I have an iPad 2 and I'm looking to upgrade. When I look at the comparison pictures I can easily see the difference and it bothers me. However, in every day use I would probably get used to the color difference. Sent from the iMore App
  • Since you have an ipad 2, there's nothing to get used to. You've been in the same boat.
  • Not a problem for me. As others have stated, most photographers use a Mac, PC, or MacBook Pro to edit. Sent from the iMore App
  • The color gamut, I don't it will be a problem for me. The real issue is the image retention. So has it been confirmed that Apple will replace it if you got one with that issue? Coz I believe that some companies in the past considered the image retention as fair game. I hope Apple isn't going tone like them. Sent from the iMore App
  • It's a bit of shame that the the retina iPad mini is exhibiting these issues. For the added price, it'd have been nice to get a screen on par to the quality of the iPad Air. That said, I don't think it's that large an issue, really. On the other hand, the fact that the rMini is exhibiting image retention is indeed sad, as I went down that path with my retina MacBook Pro. Not a fun experience! Anyhow, I'm perfectly happy with my iPad 3 right now, but if I were to choose between the new Mini or the Air, I'd probably go with the iPad Air. Sent from the iMore App
  • There are a lot more sensible people here than on some of the forums on other sites. People are legitametly getting angry with Apple because this should be "an AMAZING product" (quote), and others posting, "This is unacceptable. I'm returning mine tomorrow." Expecting a product to work correctly is one thing, but complaining when colors aren't as bright as my other expensive toy is classic FWP. I had the iPad 3 along with the iPhone 5, and the color gamut was different even then (the 5 having better blues and greens also) and no complaints. My rMini is freaking awesome and I'd feel like a Class 7 tool for showing up in an Apple store aski for a swap because "colors ain't so good". /rant
  • It's a little disappointing that Apple isn't going full out on the display for the Retina iPad Mini. It's improvements are supposed to be all about the display, so it would've been nice to see better colors as well. But, oh well, it's not really that big if a deal. Interesting though that some devices have less of an issue if I understand the article correctly. I wonder what Apple will say to people who trade theirs in saying the color is better. Sent from the iMore App
  • It's a lot easier for someone at Amazon or Google with the Nexus to get the more current screen tech because they don't have to worry about the volume or multiple vendor sources. Both of which add a huge level of difficulty when it comes to pushing the tech out. Hopefully Apples supply partners figure out their screen issues so Apple can push better screen tech.. Personally though.. From what I've been reading, all the screen with retention issues have been LG screens.. AGAIN.. It's DaJaVu all over again ala Retina Macbook Pro. LG is beginning to slide down my list of reliable screens...
  • My mini arrives on Thursday. How do I determine who mfgd the screen?
  • I think this is a problem only for the high end performance user (which there are certainly A LOT of). With that being said, I don't think this problem will hurt Apple in any way come holiday season and when the casual user is purchasing a new iPad. Sent from the iMore App
  • I probably wouldn't be able to notice it but if I were to buy an iPad it would be an air. Sent from the iMore App
  • That's disappointing to hear [read] about the differences in color on the iPads. Frustrating to pros dependent on color accuracy for print production, not even an issue, I'm sure, for average mini users.
    I'm still holding out for the iPads with TouchID - I'm really stunned that tech didn't make it into these version of the iPads.
  • You're going to see those kind of features on the iphone first. That's apple's margin leader and where it makes the most sense. No doubt the ipad will get the sensor but just remember Apple has to tote a finer line on costs for the ipads. iphone 5S price is 650. Ipad Air is 499.
  • Oh, No doubt indeed. The iPhones are the flagship device of Apple now. They get to break-in all the fun new tech before it's applied across Apple's other products, but I can just image in the "pow" that would've happened had Apple included TouchID with the iPad Air.
  • I can confirm this. I went to the Apple store on Saturday to checkout the New iPad Air and Retina Mini. I did my normal test that I do at all Apple stores when new devices are launched. As a hobby I do photography so Display matters a lot to me. I picked up an iPad Retina Mini and went to my Flickr account and looked at my pictures. I immediately noticed all my pics look a bit washed out (The colors were less saturated). I then went to a iPad Air and the colors looked a lot better. I then looked at them on the iMac and the Retina MacBook Pro. All fine, but Retina MacBook Pro looked amazing, of course. I then went back to the iPad Mini Retina and looked at my photos again and they looked washed out. I was considering a Retina Mina but now I will wait. Accurate colors matters a lot to me. My girlfriend or daughter wouldn't notice a thing, so it can be a good Xmas gift to them.
  • I've noticed the image burnout thing on both my late 2013 MacBook Pro, as well as my retina iPad mini. Is this something I should take to the Apple Store?
  • Screen protectors like the sapphire ones are a must….ZAGG, Stealth Lite, Rhino and 3M screen protectors are awesome. If you can't get your hands on one, get a GEARMAXX screen protector. They sell on ebay for cheap and are as high quality and durable!
  • I'm not a photo pro or any other kind of super user. I'm just an average person, but I noticed the washed out colors on my new iPad Mini Retina immediately. I have an iPhone 5 and an iPad 4 Retina Display and the difference is striking. If I didn't have the iPad 4 I might be okay with the Mini's colors, but I'm having trouble justifying paying $500 and getting a lower display quality. I'm disappointed and sad. I said when the Mini first came out that I would wait for a Retina Display version, and I expected the same quality display as I have on my iPhone 5 and iPad 4.
  • Jesus Christ, first complain about no retina and now people have a retina. Seriously complaining about having the screen a bit yellow which is only noticeable when compared to another device very closely is quite absurd. I guess you can't please everyone. Sent from the iMore App
  • It wouldn't be a big deal if these devices weren't so much money. But at the prices they are charging, you should be receiving the best quality products, and people are not. I just ordered an ipad mini with retina, should be arriving on Wed. But after reading about these issues, I may just return it and go with an ipad air.
  • Your name should be apple robofanboy. Yeah apple can do no wrong, get real fanboy
  • Gonna try the test now, but I totally love my new iPad mini Retina. Sent from the iMore App
  • It seems like Apple has color issues with about every fourth piece of hardware it releases. I just hope it doesn't become frequent. Paying premium prices should guarantee premium performance! Sent from the iMore App
  • My primary reason for wanting one is more for portability rather than the display. I have an iPad 3 retina that is sufficient for my viewing needs. Sent from the iMore App
  • Color matters a lot to me. I mean, why have all those pixels when you're not gonna take advantage of it. I actually bought one and returned it when I saw it was so much alike the original iPad mini (albeit sharper).
  • Is that true that there could come one of previously used (refurbished) units as a replacement for my Retina Mini?
    And could they tell me they wouldn’t replace at all since I have had it engraved?
    Is it even legal to run the grid tests? I am worried that if I tell Apple they tell me My warranty is void or something.
  • I own an iPad 3 with retina display and an iPad mini 2 with retina the difference between them is just incredible. The mini is so very pastel like, it really is awful. I am so disappointed with the mini 2 that I am going to return it. Apple really blew it this time. If they drop the price to 200 $ for the 16 gbyte then I will consider repurchasing. It's just terrible.