Friday afternoon I checked out the Retina iPad mini at a local Apple reseller (spoiler: it’s awesome), and I tried it right after I’d hefted the iPad Air. And I noticed something I hadn’t heard about in any reviews: The colors are way brighter and, well, more colored on the iPad Air. The wallpaper looks more saturated, and the blue/green icons really jumped out at me on the bigger display.
The mini, by contrast, looked just like the old mini, only with higher resolution. And it turns out that my eyes were right. Anand Lal Shampi of Anandtech did the tests and found that the color gamut of the Air is wider than that of the Retina mini.
Color gamut is a description of the range of colors displayed. There are a few different standards for displays: sRGB, AdobeRGB and ProRGB are the ones you’ve probably heard of. The iPad Air manages sRGB, but there mini falls short, beaten even by the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. This means that it shows fewer colors than other screens.
That said, Anand found that these colors are at least accurate.
So what does this mean for you? If you’re a photographer, then you might prefer the Air for its wider color range. Then again, you might prefer it anyway for the bigger screen. And then again, again maybe you’re not doing color-critical work on an iPad anyway, and still prefer the smaller size of the mini.
Still, between this and the fact that the Retina mini runs a little slower than the Air, it seems like the two iPads aren’t quite so almost-identical after all.