(via Apple.com)

(via Apple.com)

Although initial reviews of Apple’s new Retina iPad mini bemoaned its cost but praised its display, a slew of more hands-on reviews have realized a notably narrower color gamut (same as the non-Retina iPad mini) compared to other popular tablets including the iPad Air and Nexus 7.

While it may not be immediately noticeable to many consumers, it’s certainly a fine, in-depth critique when investing in what you expect to be the best tablet on the market.

Is the Retina iPad mini sharper? Obviously. But don’t expect to see its colors pop in the same way that the iPhone 5 display delivered after the iPhone 4S. Check out the detailed comments below:

iLounge was first to note the color gamut critique in its review on Thursday:

Shock set in when we loaded Vector Unit’s game Riptide GP2 on the Air and mini and tried to use color wheels to match character costumes between them. The identical wheels looked so different on the screens that we couldn’t believe it.

We had suspected this might be an issue based on similar differences in color gamut between prior 264 PPI Retina iPads and 326 PPI iPhones, but hoped that Apple would opt to keep its iPads consistent by boosting color accuracy for the iPad mini. For the moment, the iPad Air has enough of an edge over the Retina mini that we’d prefer the bigger model for color-correcting images, but like the iPhone 5 family, the new mini does a way better job than pre-Retina screens found on the original iPad mini and even current-generation MacBook Airs. Blacks and whites are more pure on the Retina mini, and the detail differences are again gigantic.

Gizmodo relates its display color gamut to the iPad 2:

The iPad mini with retina display is Apple’s second generation mini tablet. The first generation iPad mini was disappointing because not only did it have a low resolution low PPI display, but its small 62 percent Color Gamut was the same as the older iPad 2, instead of the 100 percent Color Gamut on the iPad 3 and iPad 4 (and the new iPad Air). The new iPad mini with retina display has a high resolution high PPI display like the other two mini tablets that we test here. But shockingly, it still has the same small 63 percent color gamut as the original iPad mini and even older iPad 2. As a result, the iPad mini with retina display comes in with a distant 3rd place finish behind the innovative displays on the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and new Nexus 7. More on these issues below.

This graph from the same author supplied by DisplayMate explains the comparison with… science:

Figure 1 shows the measured Color Gamuts for the Tablets along with the Standard sRGB / Rec.709 Color Gamut in black. The outermost white curve is the limits of human color vision – the horseshoe is the pure spectral colors and the diagonal is the Line of Purples. A given display can only reproduce the colors that lie inside of the triangle formed by its primary colors. Highly saturated colors seldom occur in nature so the colors that are outside of the Standard Gamut are seldom needed and are unlikely to be noticed or missed in the overwhelming majority of real images. Note that consumer content does not include colors outside of the Standard Gamut, so a display with a wider Color Gamut cannot show colors that aren’t in the original and will only produce inaccurate exaggerated on-screen colors. The dots in the center are the measured color of White for each of the Screen Modes along with the D65 Standard White, which is marked as a white circle. To deliver accurate image colors for consumer photo and video content the display must match the Standard Color Gamut and the Standard Color of White.

Color Gamut for each of the Tablets

Obviously the color gamut won’t sway your buying decision if you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem as I am, but it’s interesting to see competitors (and the full sized iPad Air) exceed the Retina iPad mini display.

It’s also notable that the new 7.9″ and 9.7″ tablets aren’t as on par with one another as initially expected. Luckily, if having the best display around is on your checklist when shopping around the tablet market, there’s still the iPad Air (which, yes, has a better color gamut).

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24 Responses to “Retina iPad mini reviews notice stagnant color gamut compared to iPad Air, Nexus 7, and others”

  1. Now all the people that love their retina Mini are going to look at it and think the colours are dull.


    • duffymoon says:

      You could be right.
      I’ve ordered the retina to replace my original mini. Love the form factor but wanted the better resolution & speed.
      I was in a store on the weekend where they had both the Air and mini-retina on display. Compared to the iPad2 and older mini – no competition, the mini-retina looks great. However, I kept being drawn back to the Air, feeling that the screen somehow just looked better/brighter/sharper than the mini-retina and unable to put my finger on why, especially as the mini has the greater dpi (I checked brightness settings on both to ensure I was comparing like-for-like).
      I’d put it down to the Air’s larger screen, but the difference in the screen-shots now circulating is telling and I guess it was likely the better colour range in the Air that made the difference.
      I doubt I’d have noticed without a side by side comparison but the fact I immediately felt something was off when I did compare makes me wonder if this was a compromise Apple may regret.
      That said, the mini is the form factor for me and that overrides all-else so what do I know, perhaps they called it right – people who buy Apple will still buy apple and choice of model will, as in my case, ultimately come down to form factor above slight variance in colour range. The average consumer who doesn’t read tech sites won’t care/know either so it’s likely only those more tech savvy Android/Windows users who would take significant note and they are the least likely group to be considering a switch anyway.


  2. I think the point of these kinds of posts needs to be to mount critical pressure upon Apple to change their behavior. People can sling around “fanboy” all they want, but it *is* Apple who gets on stage—Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, Eddie Cue—and boasts that they’re making the best devices out there. They aren’t. They can’t even claim that they’re making the best devices for the price…because they’re the premium, high-priced guy! And they’re pricing with unreal gross margins. They said that the new iPads represent ” 64-bit desktop class performance”; the A7 perf numbers are fantastic, but they hamstrung the iPads with 1GB of RAM with full knowledge that iOS 7 uses more RAM than its predecessor. And 64-bit computing’s handling of more RAM is one of the PRIMARY benefits! It is illogical. Apple simply can’t be allowed to continue to make such claims, and make sure gross margins, without consequence. Consumers MUST understand what they’re buying and MUST demand more for their money.

    Everyone always trots out auto analogies when comparing Apple to the field, saying that Apple is the BWM or Mercedes. Well, I can damn well assure you of one thing: BMW and MB buyers DEMAND quality for their money, they EXPECT the best. If BMW and MB started shipped rebadged Fiats or Renaults, there would be an uprising in Germany (and lawyers and doctors in the US would begin foaming at the mouth, which might not be a bad thing for the lawyers). At this point Apple is coasting on its laurels, both on the Mac and iOS devices, relying on an uninformed consumer to just mindlessly drive sales. Wall Street has taken notice, witness AAPL’s price. When will the Apple faithful stand up and say, “Enough is enough!”?

    The saddest part about all of this is that ALL of these shortcomings DID NOT have to be there. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX are both available for $229, right now. They both have better screens, and the Nexus 7 has 2GB of RAM. iSuppl’s teardown put the iPad Air right round that amount for build cost. Apple has MORE than enough gross margin at the current prices to have shipped iPad Air and iPad mini Retina models that matched/exceeded the competition. They just…didn’t. Why? Greed. There can be no other answer. Can’t be incompetence, because that would contradict their own claims of greatness. Can’t be that a nicer screen wasn’t needed, because the reviews clearly point out why it is, and the Air’s screen is proof that they know it. And the postings on Apple’s Support forums and MacRumors/et al about app crashing and Safari tab refreshing prove the RAM is needed NOW, and certainly will be direly needed more so to run the apps that ship a year from now and to accommodate iOS 8’s new (expectedly) features.

    Enough is enough, Mr. Cook. Stop amassing wealth and start providing the Apple customer with the TRULY best computing experience available. We don’t mind paying a premium, but we EXPECT the best for that money. You have failed to deliver.


    • Good post. They overcharge for the retina mini as well and claim it has the best display, etc. when that is far from the truth…


    • tallestskil says:

      How pathetic can you be? Come off it.


    • thejuanald says:

      Great post. I couldn’t agree more.


    • Tom Yocom says:

      Have gone to the apple store many times anticipating the mini retina release. While there I have noticed an emptiness in the store. Ipad Air getting little attention. The MiniR though now in the store 2 people at the table and only 6 Retinas in the whole store next to the originals which the employees out of there own mouth say.,. Well, you can’t tell the difference with the human Eye. I guess that includes me…meaning I can tell no difference with my eyes and the computations as I was told will be negligible to notice in any human capacity. Meaning only on bench tests…

      Wuh duh foot? Could not believe what I was hearing. I have noticed an absence of bench mark tests for the Ipad Air and was hoping to see more testing on the MiniR..

      I am an apple head…4 imacs…4 ipads…. and a million before…cutting a magazine, in 1986 on the first apples…
      but since the Ipad 3(for me)..when they released the ipad 4 so close without any type of warning that the ipad 3 seemed like a throw away, an Ipad 2 plus…overstock item or something, Not completely thought out. Anyway…I just feel since then Apple is on their down path.. I think the Ipad Air and MiniR will prove this. Numbers are not going to come out for these.. Think about it, Ipad Air would have numbers plastered everywhere by now…..

      some times a kick in the pants is warranted. Some times a kick in the pants it too late

      trust is often lost before someone has to kick someone in the pants


    • Take it easy man. The display problem in iPad mini Retina Display could be because of the panel [As I think]. LG has manifactured the panels for iPad mini. So the problem, could be from LG panels or there are some issues with number of iPad mini Retina display within a range of serial number.

      In regards price, I agree with you. The iPad Mini costs you more than Nexus 7. That could for the following reasons
      1) Apple has unbeatable ecosystems
      2) The build quality
      3) Performance (As far as I know Nexus comes with Quad-core. Logically should be faster. But I fact not, iPhone 5S dual-core beats any Quad-core. The A7 Chips is super fast)
      4) The camera that comes with iPad Mini retina is better than Nexus 7.
      5) iPad Mini retina display has 2 times fast wifi (Because of MiMo (multiple-input and multiple-output)

      Look [Don’t get me wrong]. I am not trying to say Apple is right. But think about that. Nexus 7 $229 and the iPad Mini for $3.99. So when Google sells the tablet for $229,
      How much is the really cost for Nexus ?

      Google wants to make money like all companies. Google is not a charity.

      To conclude “all companies are greedy “


      • Timothy wang says:

        I’m sorry but please do some research before you start spreading around misinformation…
        1 the nexus 7 has a pretty solid build quality, I’m expecting it to last as long as my iPad does
        2 performance wise the apple chip is faster than the s4 or snapdragon 600 but it is behind the snapdragon 800 which seems to be a standard for most android phones/tablets
        3 cameras are Dependant on software and hardware so I’ll take your word that mini cameras are better
        4 mimo isn’t that noticeable for speed, reliability of the connection is another story…

        But the important part is the profit margin, apple has consistently overcharged for that products in order to maximize the profit margin while Google has been known for providing low price and high spec devices. The screen on the nexus 7 alone costs 110 dollars, that’s half the price of the tablet… If apple was willing to spend 200 for the screen of the iPad mini, I highly doubt we’d be reading about color gamut issues on the iPad mini… sure it’s lg s fault for providing a screen not up to par but it’s apples fault for picking them to skimp when they can trying to maximize profit margins… I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost the same amount of money to Google and apple to make the tablets with apple just charging more. The simple fact is you re only getting a marginally better tablet for 1.5x the price.


    • You make some valid points but are also naive and mistaken on others. A bit of history first. Apple has always been criticized for charging too much for products that don’t always have cutting-edge features. Meager RAM and HD storage, sluggish processors, no Blu-Ray support, late to USB 3.0, on and on. Yet, despite this, people often preferred them over the competition’s feature-packed, lower-priced products. People like me. Sure, I could have bought five Dells for the price of one Mac Pro or MacBook, But, I would have bought poorly designed, poorly made computers with an awful OS, that would be replaced in less than 12 months. Critics accused Jobs and Apple of being arrogant and greedy then, claiming the company would eventually fail if it continued these strategies. And guess what, instead, Apple kicked everyone else to the curb.

      So, really all you’re doing with your (albeit somewhat valid) rant is repeating comments that go back 20 years. Looking at this from the other side, if you’re a shareholder, you love those big, juicy margins. Call it greed or smart business, Apple is the envy of everyone else in the industry. Samsung makes inferior products at lower margin just to claim market share dominance. Google more or less gives their stuff away for the same reason. Meanwhile, Apple takes its time, releasing value-add products that are generally brilliant in design and very well-made. Sure, you’re not getting all the latest bells and whistles, and it’s often maddening that Apple doesn’t offer some basic stuff (like more RAM) but that’s just the way they do things. And, overall, it’s been working. If you don’t want to spend a premium for an Apple product, there’s plenty else to choose from. Apple is fully aware of this, but doesn’t let it distract from their vision of delivering superior products that offer significant benefit to customers.

      As for your BMW/Mercedes analogy, who are you kidding? Both of these premium brands are grossly over-priced, offering miserly features, and often inferior build-quality (check out the Consumer Reports repair record of MB for the past 15 years: embarrassing). That said, like Apple, the overall user-eexperience of owning these cars is why people look past their significant shortcomings and shell out $25-35k more than for a Honda or Toyota that offer more for less. Are the Germans more greedy than the Japanese? I doubt it. They just understand the power of a brand and how consumers will pay more for a product that’s perceived to be superior and more desirable. So be it in the world of capitalism.

      Apple has always been under pressure to be like everyone else. And because they’ve ignored this race-to-the-bottom attitude, they are now recognized as smarter, not greedier, than the competition. So, call me a fanboy, but I gladly pay more for an Apple product if I think it’s better. Full disclosure: I own an iPad and a Kindle. Although the Kindle has a better display and much better audio, 9 out of 10 times I prefer the iPad for general use.


  3. You can’t “colour correct” using any iPad.


  4. Any news on the image retention issue? Is this real? I thought 9to5mac would have picked up on it by now, however I didn’t hear about this issue. Interesting and annoying at the same time as my iPad Mini is waiting to be picked up form my aunt in the states and brought here..



  5. I returned my iPad Mini w/Retina for exactly this reason. Can’t justify $420 (CAD) for a device that would make me wish the colours looked better.
    Anyone notice that the mini retina has slightly blurred text compared to the Air? I found text on the Air crisper. It could just be my eyes though.


  6. Terry Dean says:

    So why did the original mini sell so damn well? Huuuuummmmmm!
    Nobody is checking for any effing color gamut.


    • thejuanald says:

      Because of apple sheep. People will scream that apple makes the best products in the world but when it’s proven that they aren’t, people respond with, “yeah, well why does it sell so well, then?” Just because something sells well doesn’t mean it’s of better quality (ironically, this is what apple people say about windows PC’s and android phones).


      • Here comes again apple sheep argument. Come on, seriously. Apple is not a cult, nobody is being brain-washed. Consumers are free to choose. If they choose Apple, it might be because they love it.

        After getting MBP retina (inhumanly expensive, I admit) I cannot even look on Samsungs and LGs, or even Sonys. That is the best laptop I have had in my entire life. People buy iPads because they want what they want. They want quality and decent user experience.

        There are probably one or two tablets that can compete with iPads in terms of quality, the rest is competing with a price. And if you try using OSX and Android all together, you feel the difference right away concerning the user experience.

        I wish Apple was cheaper. I wish Apple was better, all the time. But please please do not think consumers are all idiots.


    • Tom Yocom says:

      The Original Mini sold because it was a sub Ipad. Smaller , Weaker, cuter and CHEAPER…..

      The MiniR etina , from my perspective is the ultimate A7 chip, like Ipad Air, retina, 64 bit baby Monster..equal if not faster then the Ipad air…same chip but smaller device….and marketed no different..

      the mini was less the miniR is the same but smaller…


  7. kpom1 says:

    “Anyone notice that the mini retina has slightly blurred text compared to the Air? I found text on the Air crisper. It could just be my eyes though.”

    No. If anything, the text is sharper on the Retina mini, which it should be because it has a higher PPI. It is smaller, and thus if you are nearsighted (or have the opposite problem and need reading glasses), it could appear blurrier.


  8. Before posting an article like this, I’d find out who made panels for the iPad Mini and test a few of each before publishing any conclusions. Drawing conclusions from a data set of 1 is ludicrous and utterly unprofessional.


  9. Dez Dalton says:

    Believe me there is a huge difference and disappointment with the new Mac mini retina. Especially when you have an iPhone 5, mac book pro retina there is a large difference with the mini to generate proper wider range colour. Yes the iPad Air pops with higher colour gamut. I think people will be aware when you place them side by side with a same display photo or colour burst website! Please fix this issue apple in the next mini retina! Thx Dez


  10. The Kobo Arc 10HD is a great contender, en/kobo-arc-10hd-vs-apple-ipad-air, but I have to admit I still love the classic iPad tablets and the new Air is definitely much better then the last iPad but still leaves a great mark with its lovely screen size, high resolution, great applications and overall great look. Love this article, and love the iPad Air.


  11. I bought an iPad Mini 2 and I am very disappointed. I also own an iPad Air and noticed a distinct difference when playing Clash of Clans on both. The largest difference was that the lavender walls appeared washed out. I pulled up the same scenario on my iPad Air and the colors were rich and sharp. I then turned on my old iPad 4th gen which also has a retina screen and it’s appearance mimicked the quality of my iPad Air. The mini 2 which also has the retina screen looked pretty bad. What gives? I have taken photos with them all next to each other however I can’t post them in the comments here. Is this how it is supposed to be?