Apple has always been a leader when it comes to screen resolution for its mobile gadgets.
With the iPhone 4 it introduced the “Retina display,” which is so sharp that you can’t see pixels. Earlier this year, it added Retina to the iPad. And then it put Retina on its laptops.
So, when it introduced the iPad mini without a Retina display, it was something of a surprise.
For the last two years it’s been telling the world how important it is to have a super sharp display. And now, it apparently isn’t that important.
The reason Apple skipped the Retina display for the iPad mini is because it would have been too expensive and it would have drained the battery.
However, Apple has also conditioned us to believe it can do the impossible. So, excuses about price and battery feel like just that — excuses.
Therefore, the lack of a Retina display is a let down. (It also leads us to believe people should hold off on the iPad mini for a year under the assumption Apple will add Retina in the next model.)
The early reviews of the iPad minis are largely positive, but there’s one common complaint. The screen is wanting.
While we’re on the subject of the screen, let’s not beat around the bush — if there is a weakness of this device, it’s the screen. But that statement comes with a very big asterisk. As someone who is used to a “retina” display on my phone, tablet, and even now computer, the downgrade to a non-retina display is quite noticeable. This goes away over time as you use the iPad mini non-stop, but if you switch back a retina screen, it’s jarring.
That’s not to say the iPad mini screen is bad — it’s not by any stretch of the word. It’s just not retina-level. At 163 pixels per inch, it’s actually quite a bit better than the iPad 2 screen (the last non-retina iPad), but you really can’t compare it to a retina display.
…unlike its closest competitors, the Mini can’t play video in high definition. Apple insists the device does better than standard definition, if you are obtaining the video from its iTunes service, since iTunes scales the video for the device, so it will render somewhere between standard definition and HD. It says some other services will do the same. But the lack of true HD gives the Nexus and Fire HD an advantage for video fans.
There’s no question that to the naked eye this screen does look lower in resolution than its nearest competition. Pixels are noticeable, especially in webpages, books, and when viewing email — and that can be distracting sometimes. Since Apple is the company that’s gotten our eyes used to the hey-look-no-pixels trick of the Retina display, it’s hard to take a step back and not notice. I don’t think the lower resolution is a deal-breaker in this product, but it is a compromise you have to be aware of. It simply doesn’t look as clear as other products on the market.
Sadly, the Mini doesn’t gain Apple’s supercrisp Retina display. Nobody’s going to complain about the sharpness — it packs in 163 pixels per inch (ppi) — but it’s not the same jaw-dropping resolution as the big iPad (264 ppi). Gotta hold something back for next year’s model, right?
But oh, that screen. It’s not bad, not at all, but it’s not Retina Display. It’s not even as high-res as other 7-inch tablets. If you’re an obsessive over crisp text, you’ll notice the fuzziness. If you’re comparing the Mini to a laptop, you won’t. I wanted that display to be as good as the one on the iPhone 5, iPod Touch, and Retina iPad. It isn’t, not now. It mars the product for me, because otherwise, the screen size and its aspect ratio is perfect for handling comics, magazines, and reading apps.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.