Phil Schiller highly praised display iPad mini At the last Apple presentation, he drew attention to its diagonal and usable area, to the 4:3 aspect ratio convenient for tablets, to the large amount of content that fits on such a screen. But what if we put aside the marketing and look at the situation with the small tablet display from a slightly different angle? Compare it with competitors based on technical data, not visual? Let’s try!
One of the amazing things about Apple’s latest presentation wasn’t just the really cool products like the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the ultrathin iMac, or the new tablets, or even the sheer number of new products. Many people who actively follow Apple and use its devices were literally shocked that Phil Schiller organized a direct comparison between the iPad mini and Google Nexus 7, proving (!) why a small tablet is better than a competitor.
At Jobs it really wasn’t like that. “Why should you buy our product? Because he is the best!“, – Steve said without regard to competitors, and if he did remember them, then as “swindlers and imitators(remember, Copycats?). Whether he is right or not is not so important now, but the line of conduct was clear: “We are the best, if you don’t like something, buy competing products, no one is holding you back“. And this line of behavior appealed to people. Whether Cook and Schiller should have broken it is hard to say, but there is still some negative. In addition, the company did draw public attention to the iPad mini display, but why do it if it is really technically weaker than the competition. As a result, this led to a more detailed study of the issue by third-party sources, for example, iMore, and the result was far from in favor of Apple. At least “on paper”.
iMore Editor-in-Chief Rene Ritchie (Rene Ritchie) decided to approach the process of comparing iPad mini, Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 displays a little more differently than Apple’s chief marketing officer did. Let me remind you that the small Apple tablet has a resolution of 7.9-inch display of 1024×768 pixels, an aspect ratio of 4: 3, a density of 163 ppi. The picture on the screen of the iPad mini will be sharper than on the iPad 2, but to understand how clear it will be, take a look at the iPhone 3GS screen or any model before it – there is exactly the same density as that of the iPad mini. Yes, pixels will be well distinguishable. Although the matrix in the newcomer is better than that of the “old men” of the iPhone and even than that of the iPad 2. Still, it is made using technology lamination.
In turn, the resolution of 7-inch displays on the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD 7 is 1280×800 pixels, the aspect ratio is 16:10 (which is close to the aspect ratio in the iPhone 5), the density is 216 ppi. During the presentation, Schiller mentioned that the screen area of the iPad mini is 35% more than the Nexus 7. Good, but in terms of the number of pixels, the competitor surpasses the small Apple tablet by almost the same (33%1,024,000 pixels for the Nexus 7 versus 786,432 pixels for the iPad mini, respectively).
More pixels means more content will fit. On the other hand, it will probably look better on a larger display. But aside from baseless ranting. Let’s compare the screens by size and by the number of pixels, as well as by their size. In the diagram below, the red checkerboard represents the iPad mini display and the blue checkerboard represents the Nexus 7 display. The size of the squares represents the relative pixel size. On the left is a comparison of physical dimensions, on the right is a comparison by the number of pixels (all screenshots below are clickable).
The diagram clearly shows that on the iPad mini screen the content will LOOK bigger (bigger matrix size … KO with you, friends!), but on the Nexus 7 display it WILL fit more (more pixels). Although due to the different aspect ratio in landscape orientation on the Apple tablet, the height is greater, and the width in portrait orientation. It is very convenient for reading, whatever it is, whether it is web surfing or an e-book. For multi-panel interfaces, this ratio is also better. Below is an example of what a web page looks like on iPad mini and Nexus 7. For clarity, the ineffective area of the screen is sketched with a checkerboard.
In landscape orientation, the Apple tablet is doing just fine, the content fits more and it is larger, although the picture is not as clear as that of a competitor. In addition, the Android on-screen controls also “eat off” part of the usable area. But in portrait orientation, the iPad already fits a little less content, although the difference is small compared to the Nexus 7 due to the same Android on-screen controls.
Let’s move on to the interface. Below is an illustrative example of the implementation of a multi-pane portrait interface on different tablets:
As you can see, in the iPad mini it is the same as in the older brother: in the settings menu there are two columns – this is convenient, in Mail.app – a sliding panel. Nexus 7, in turn, combines the interface of large tablets and small smartphones. As a result, you have to jump through separate windows in the settings. But in the mail client parity, in my opinion. At least in terms of efficient use of usable space. However, if we recall the amount of software adapted for the tablet in the App Store and compare it with the assortment of Google Play, then the result will not be in favor of Android. Although, it’s only a matter of time, but now Apple is ahead. Kindle Fire HD 7 can hardly be called a full-fledged tablet when using standard software, but rather a device for consuming media content from the Amazon library. Accordingly, in this regard, it cannot be directly compared with either the iPad mini or the Nexus 7.
Well, we figured out the interface and web surfing. Let’s move on to another burning topic, namely, the experience of watching HD video on the screens of the tablets in question. At first glance, everything is fine with the iPad, even despite its aspect ratio, because the display is much larger in area. But on the other hand, everything is not so obvious. Below is an illustrative example of how a widescreen video will look in its standard form (top pair of screenshots), as well as being stretched to full screen (bottom pair).
In widescreen, the picture is larger on the iPad mini, but pixel-by-pixel it is narrowed from 1280 dots horizontally to 1024 dots, and vertically from 720p to 585p. For dynamic content, the difference is small and the video will look comparably good on both tablets, although if we are talking about HD, Nexus 7 will win in terms of clarity, after all, pixel-to-pixel output is very nice. But when stretching the movie to full screen, the iPad display, although it shows a huge picture in comparison with a competitor, it is heavily cut off at the edges – this is already critical. In fact, in this case, there is no gain from the increased diagonal of the iPad mini display.
What was the result – the iPad broke like a heating pad under Tuzik’s sharp teeth? Not certainly in that way. Still, Apple is right that in most cases we get more usable screen area and a more convenient display for almost all types of media, be it games, reading, web surfing. According to the video – parity. But in terms of the number of adapted software, iPad mini is still ahead. And do not forget that for the vast majority of ordinary users, more means better, and not everyone pays attention that less means clearer. Thus, with a lower screen density, Apple’s small tablet turned out to be more competitive than the Nexus 7 and other similar Android products.
On the other hand, how convenient will it be for people who are already used to Retina on the iPhone 4/4S/5, on the iPad and on the MacBook Pro? While it is difficult to say, but not the fact that they will be delighted. In my case, there is definitely a place for the iPad mini, and the family will be delighted. Sons and wife don’t care whether Retina is there or not, they don’t go into such nuances. There would be games and a browser. I can’t say anything about myself yet, but on the 7.7-inch Galaxy Tab the picture was quite satisfactory, and there the density was not much higher than that of the new Apple tablet. But Retina fans should probably wait for future generations of the iPad mini.
Plus, there are always compromises to be made. The ideal is hard to come by. iPad mini is extremely thin at just 7.2mm, half the thickness of iPad 3 and 4, and very light. Add an Apple Retina display to it and you would have to sacrifice thickness and mass. Trying to install a less technologically advanced display with a similar density as competitors, the company would put an end to compatibility with 250,000 apps from the App Store. And you could also make a big iPod touch instead of a small iPad. There are many options, but you always have to compromise. First, the producer goes to it, and then the consumer, when he solves the problem of choice for himself.
Perhaps in the second or third generation of the iPad mini, there will be fewer compromises or they will disappear altogether. Why, then, was it necessary to release such an ambiguous device now? Because it is better when there is an alternative than when there is none. The same can be said about the announcement of the iPad 4, seven months after the release of the third generation iPad. The company was able to establish the production of new items so quickly – great. No one forces you to immediately switch from iPad 3 to iPad 4, and the predecessor did not work worse. Life is generally a complete compromise, and it is easier to treat this, IMHO. [iMore]
Phil Schiller praised the iPad mini display at the last Apple presentation, he paid attention to its diagonal and usable area, to the 4:3 aspect ratio convenient for tablets, to the large amount of content that fits on such a screen. But what if we put aside the marketing and look at the situation with the display of a small tablet from a slightly different angle?…
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