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Take it Out Back and Shoot it – iPad Mini Screen Places Third After Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX

Apple has displaymate 7 inch tablet comparisona well-deserved reputation for having the best hardware, but it looks like that record may be about to come to an end.

According to the latest test results from Displaymate, the iPad Mini has a screen that is noticeably inferior to the screens found on the Fire HDX and this year’s Nexus 7. While the latest offerings from both Amazon and Google scored high marks in the study, Apple’s tablet "comes in with a distant third-place finish". DisplayMate evaluated the devices on a wide array of fronts, including calibration, sharpness, brightness, and color gamut.  They found that while the tablets packed about the same density of pixels, the Fire HDX and the Nexus 7 were both able to display 100% of the color gamut but the iPad Mini was only able to show 63%.

The Mini was also dinged for being more reflective and for having a lower maximum brightness and contrast. And finally, the iPad Mini is also less energy efficient, with the Nexus 7 having the most efficient screen of the three.

displaymate 7 inch tablet comparison

It’s not clear whether the Fire HDX or the Nexus 7 came out a head (it looks like a tie to me), but it is clear that both Amazon and Google have improved the screens on their tablets in a very short while.

In fact, if you discount the first Kindle Fire as a rebadged BB Playbook then Amazon and Google bested Apple after only released a couple 7″ devices each. That shows a remarkably sharp ability to learn and adapt, and it should be a concern for Apple.

These test results come only a couple weeks after the iPad Air was dethroned as the best large tablet screen, leading me to echo DisplayMate’s comment: "Apple was once the leader in mobile displays, unfortunately it has fallen way behind in both Tablets and Smartphones. This should be a wakeup call."


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fjtorres November 19, 2013 um 4:40 pm

IGZO again.
Apple invested a good chunk of change in Sharp to get first crack at the IGZO screens that are supposed to be as good as anybody’s and lower in power consumption.
I haven’t seen any evidence that the screens are lower power, but for the mini at least IGZO is proving to be a bad investment. First crack seems to have brought low yields/limited availability and a bit of bad publicity.
It won’t result in reduced sales, though.
Basically, between the high glare screen and the reduced clock rate, Apple has made sure the mini is not a one-for-one substitute for the iPad Air, which is only going to help their margins.
Not much of a loss here, really.

Nate Hoffelder November 19, 2013 um 5:15 pm

Yes, it’s not proving to be anywhere nearly as good as promised.

fjtorres November 19, 2013 um 6:52 pm

So much for that hope for tablets with eink-type battery life.
Next up is Liquavista.

Nate Hoffelder November 19, 2013 um 6:54 pm

Or Pixtronix. But that screen tech from Qualcomm uses the IGZO backplane so I’m not sure it will be as energy efficient as hoped.

fjtorres November 19, 2013 um 8:35 pm

It turns out Displaymate agrees:

Steve Nagel (@snitstwits) November 20, 2013 um 11:00 am

Please don’t shoot it; send it to me.

Damir Fonovich November 20, 2013 um 1:18 pm

How important is this, seriously? If screen quality was an issue for the average consumer, the Nook HD and HD+ would have been taken more seriously as contenders in this realm, especially the 7-inch HD which was a game changer in screen quality.

Nate Hoffelder November 20, 2013 um 1:42 pm

When it comes to the devices it doesn’t matter – not a bit. But in terms of which company has the best tech, this is a very important story.

Steve Nagel (@snitstwits) November 20, 2013 um 3:24 pm

So the headline is pure linkbait?

Nate Hoffelder November 20, 2013 um 3:36 pm

I was going for snarky, not linkbait. Though I will agree it is somewhat inaccurate without a mention of the screens.

fjtorres November 20, 2013 um 4:22 pm

This is also significant because it impacts the HDTV business: Sharp is on the rocks and its future depends on IGZO. If IGZO tanks, so does Sharp.

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