Published: November 5, 2012 9:10 AM
By Romain Thuret
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
Apple released its iPad Mini on Friday, and we bagged ourselves one of the new pint-sized tablets to take back to our labs and get acquainted with. First up, we put the 1024 x 768-pixel IPS screen through its paces with our usual host of lab tests. 

Apple iPad Mini (2012)
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With its 7.9" IPS screen, 7.2 mm casing, Lightning connector and a set of specs largely lifted from the iPad 2, Apple's iPad Mini is lined up to rival the likes of the Google Nexus 7 by Asus (7.6" screen), Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (7" screens).

ipad mini ipad 4
Left: iPad Mini/ Right: iPad 4

Ahead of the full review, we thought we'd take a closer look at the tablet's 7.9" display. We were slightly disappointed when Apple announced the iPad Mini screen def at 1024 x 768 pixels, as competitor tablets often manage to pack higher screen definitions (1280 x 800 pixels) into displays that are 0.3" to 0.9" smaller. The pixel density therefore works out lower in the iPad Mini.

ipad mini

Contrast: 783:1

We measured a respectable average contrast ratio of 783:1 for Apple's iPad Mini, which is on par with the first iPad and with Amazon's Kindle Fire HD. The Nexus 7, however, pushes up over 900:1. This, twinned with a maximum brightness of 330 cd/m2, keeps the onscreen image easy to read in most conditions, both indoors and outdoors. 

ipad mini

Colour fidelity: no match for the iPad 3

The first blip with this screen is colour fidelity, as the iPad Mini gives the least accurate colour reproduction we've seen in any of Apple's iPad tablets. We measured the average Delta E at 6.8, making colours three times less accurate than with the iPad 3. Note that Delta E measures the difference between perfectly reproduced colours and those actually displayed onscreen—colours can be considered accurate with a Delta E of 0 to 3.

The iPad Mini therefore isn't the best option for photographers or graphic designers looking for a tablet on which to view back pictures with accurate results. The third-gen iPad was a much better choice for that. However, the white here is very pure. In fact, whites in the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD end up looking slightly yellow-tinged next to the iPad Mini. Thanks to IPS technology, the horizontal and vertical viewing angles are excellent. 

ipad mini

So what's this 7.9" IPS display like to read? To be honest, we found general screen readability inferior in the iPad Mini to the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HD. Then again, the latter two tablets have pixel densities of 198 dpi and 216 dpi respectively, while the iPad Mini makes do with 163 dpi. The edges of individual letters therefore look less crisp on the iPad Mini display, making overall sharpness levels seem lower.

ipad mini

The operating system (iOS 6) is still clear and easy to read onscreen, but we do think it lacks a little crispness—probably because we've got so used to seeing ultra-sharp screens lately. That said, there's still a pretty big gulf between what you get with a Retina display and what you get with this standard IPS screen. Plus, general readability doesn't seem as sharp or precise as with the iPad Mini's two main competitors.

Stay tuned for our full review of the iPad Mini, coming soon!

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