While Apple eagerly touted their larger screen compared to other similarly-sized competitors, it actually doesn’t measure quite that well against notable competitors like the Google Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HD. In fact, rather than continuing with their tradition of giving us the best screen, or at least, one of the best available, all you’re getting with an iPad Mini is a capable but ho-hum display. But just how bad is it?
For one thing, you’re not getting a Retina screen with a similar pixel density as the third or fourth generation iPads. The 768 x 1024 resolution is exactly the same as the one on the iPad 2, and it’s crammed into a smaller 7.9″ screen rather than a 9.7″ one so it’s slightly sharper at 162PPI (pixels per inch). However compared to the Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD, both of which cram a higher 800 x 1280 resolution and sharper 216PPI into their 7″ screens, the iPad Mini display simply falls short. The iPad Mini display might be bigger, but the details will be harder to make out. Definitely not an enjoyable thing if you plan to use it to watch your favorite HD movies or read magazines and eBooks.
Another thing I don’t like about the iPad Mini display is its high screen reflectance. According to test results from Displaymate, a research firm and leader in video diagnostics, the iPad mini display reflects 53% more ambient light compared to the Nexus 7 and 41% more than the Kindle Fire HD. Because of the portability of the iPad Mini compared to its big brother, people will likely be more inclined to take it around with them and use them anywhere, which includes the outdoors. Simply put, if you’re going to be using it outside or even indoors under bright florescent lighting, you’re in for a bad time.
All of this is unacceptable, especially when you consider how much of a profit margin Apple is making from it. Both the entry level 16GB Google Nexus 7 and the equivalent Kindle Fire HD , which retail for $199 each, are being sold at close to cost. On the other hand, the 16Gb Wifi-only base model of the iPad Mini costs only $188 in materials and another $10 to manufacture. Then the Apple Tax magically brings it up to $329.
Still, Apple will be Apple, and there will still be a healthy amount of sales that will be generated simply by having the Apple brand attached to this device. Would I recommend the iPad Mini to anyone? No. Unless of course you want to take advantage of the better selection of tablet-optimized apps on Apple’s App Store. Then again, I’d probably recommend that you get an iPad 2 or refurbished iPad 3 instead.