(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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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created SpaceExplored.com.