It is official: the iPad Mini has the worst screen resolution of any major tablet available on the market today, including a slew of last year’s tablets. The Kindle Fire 1st gen, the Nook Touch, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, the Asus TF300, the Motorola Xoom 2; all of these devices render text more clearly, more crisply, and in higher-definition than the brand new iPad Mini. How could this be?
I was walking around my local mall yesterday and, on a whim, I decided to drop in to the Best Buy Mobile store (a smaller, specialized version of Best Buy that deals only in cell phones, accessories, and other mobile devices) to look around. There was a large selection of phones, lots of Android tablets, and the latest Kindle Fire HD 7″. Then, as I turned the corner, there it was: the iPad Mini. After playing around with a few apps, looking at some images, and testing the processing speed of the device, I was quite pleased with its overall performance. I don’t really have any complaints about iOS 6 or the Apple app store; both have always been first rate. Now, for the display: the lower-definition screen was slightly noticeable in productivity apps, but not so much for images or gaming. For my final test, I opened the iBooks application and brought up an eBook. Since I happened to be in the 7″ tablet section, surrounded by practically all of the alternative-tablet options on the market, I decided to do a comparison. Could my fears about the display be unwarranted? Perhaps Apple used a new technology that made even a 1024 x 768 resolution look amazing. Unfortunately for Apple fans, this isn’t the case.
The iPad Mini’s display is actually worse than I thought it would be when it comes to reading eBooks. Text looks blurry and faded, and the screen looks grainy. Pixels are easy to make out, even when the device is held at a normal use distance. After getting so accustomed to the iPad 3’s beautiful retina display, and the display on my iPhone 4S, the Mini’s screen looked like it belonged on a $60 7″ Chinese tablet (the IdolPad comes to mind). It was really a night-and-day difference when I held up my iPhone 4s to the tablet’s screen. Imagine all of those iPad 3 users who decided to ‘upgrade’ to the Mini. Apple has spoiled everyone with the clarity of the 3’s retina display, and now, they won’t even offer a match to the 1280 x 800 Android offerings. After months of iPad 3 use, the Mini adopter is bound to notice a resolution deficit between the two.
What surprised me even more was when I started comparing the iPad Mini to the older 7″ and 10″ Android tablets in the store. The new Kindle Fire HD 7″ beats the Mini by miles in screen resolution. Amazon what right to slam them on their homepage a few days ago. The Asus TF300, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, and even the Motorola Xoom all outperform the iPad Mini in the visual department. According to my eyes (20/20 vision), Web browsing, eBook reading, and PDF display were all vastly superior on the older devices around me.
In all, I spent about twenty minutes using the iPad Min. It is well built (no plastic), light, and aesthetically pleasing, but isn’t the display the most important component of a tablet? A slower processor or less-appealing build quality can easily be made up for with a spectacular display. Apple has totally ignored this equation and turned it on its head. With the iPad Mini, you get a powerful device, more than adequate for enterprise or educational use, but a horrible display. This decision seems antithetical to Apple’s recent marketing gains they made in this area. Apple started the whole resolution tablet war, but now they have seemingly run off the field. I just can’t understand why they would do this. The Mini would be a spectacular tablet, and a worth 7″ opponent for Android brands, if it was given the display it deserves. Despite my admiration for Apple and their products, I really must strongly advise against buying an iPad Mini this holiday season.