Retina iPad Mini Shows Fewer Colors Than iPad Air

Anand's graph showing the various color gamuts of current tablets.

Anand’s graph showing the various color gamuts of current tablets.

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.

  • Taojones_1

    as a graphics guy srgb is a smaller color space than adobe rgb by design it is closer to what your printer is most likely to be able to print out if you want wysiwyg results (what you see is what you get) if you have a display that shows color tour printer can’t make (because screen colors are additive and print colors are subtractive) if you open the color synk utility you can display the color spaces as a cube or rhomboid .selecting 2 will compare them and show what colors the larger space can “see” and what colors the smaller space “ignores” each space attempts to move all color coordinates relative to each other so the overall impression is a balance . the rgb color of the monitor and the cmyk color of the printer have been a headache for the ages. but the difference between the cmyk print space and the adobe rgb is much greater than the difference between the adobe rgb and the srgb (there you go clear as mud)

  • dennislaska

    I’m an Apple fan bot and the mini retina is more washed out, less contrast and the colors are off compared to the ipad Air. I own both.

    Image shot with an iphone 5s comparing both http://www.pbase.com/dennislaska/image/153379863/original

  • Harvey Lubin

    I recently replaced my old full-sized iPad with he new iPad mini with Retina Display. I bought the mini because I wanted something smaller, lighter, and more portable than the full-sized iPad.

    With the full-sized iPad I had to decide if it was worth carrying sometimes, and make a special effort to carry it. But the mini is the right size for me. It is small and light enough to slip into a jacket pocket, and take with me everywhere.

    The smaller display has (so far) not made much of a difference in using apps. Text is just as readable as on the full-sized iPad. I just end up holding the mini a few inches closer to my face than I did with the old iPad.

    I had read that the A7 runs a bit slower than on the iPad Air (1.3GHz vs. 1.4GHz) and that the colours are not as accurate as on the iPad Air display, but neither are noticeable to me. I might be able to notice the difference if I put the two iPads together side-by-side, but then again I imagine that the differences would be minimal and unimportant for my purposes.

    Just using the iPad mini with Retina Display is a joy, so I’m very happy that I chose it!

  • Harvey Lubin

    I’m an Apple fan bot and the mini retina is more washed out, less contrast and the colors are off compared to the ipad Air. I own both.

    Image shot with an iphone 5s comparing both http://www.pbase.com/dennislaska/image/153379863/original

    The photo on the iPad mini RD does look undersaturated, but looking at my own photos on my iPad mini RD I haven’t noticed such a discrepancy. The other thing I notice in your comparison is that the image on the iPad Air display looks over saturated and unreal looking.

    Your photos are being displayed in the PBase website, and not in the native camera app on the two iPads. I wonder if that has something to do with with the oversaturation and undersaturation seen. Again, I haven’t come across such a drastic undersaturation of my own photos on my iPad mini RD.

  • dennislaska

    The photo on the iPad mini RD does look undersaturated, but looking at my own photos on my iPad mini RD I haven’t noticed such a discrepancy. The other thing I notice in your comparison is that the image on the iPad Air display looks over saturated and unreal looking.

    Your photos are being displayed in the PBase website, and not in the native camera app on the two iPads. I wonder if that has something to do with with the oversaturation and undersaturation seen. Again, I haven’t come across such a drastic undersaturation of my own photos on my iPad mini RD.

    The image was shot with an iphone, it’s like taking a picture of your TV. The actual image is not over saturated.

    Here is the link to my original image.

    http://www.pbase.com/dennislaska/image/151115929

    View it on your computer, an ipad Air and then your mini retina. If you’re happy paying twice as much for an ipad mini with this screen as opposed to a nexus with better contrast and truer colors it’s your money. My mini went back. I’ll wait till Apple ups the quality in the mini retina screen.

  • Harvey Lubin

    I’m an Apple fan bot and the mini retina is more washed out, less contrast and the colors are off compared to the ipad Air. I own both.

    Image shot with an iphone 5s comparing both http://www.pbase.com/dennislaska/image/153379863/original

    I’ve done a comparison looking at my own photos in the iOS Photo app, on both my iPad mini with Retina Display, and on my iPhone 5S side-by-side (I don’t have an iPad Air, but the iPhone 5S display is highly rated).

    The photos appeared to have the same contrast and colour saturation on both displays… definitely NOT washed out as you show in the image of your own iPad mini with Retina Display.

    You may have a defective display in your iPad mini RD, and it might be worth taking it to an Apple Store for replacement.

About the author

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , , |