New iPad’s Color Filters Alone Eat 30% More Battery


The new iPad has much improved colors, but at the expense of battery life. Photo Jeff Yurek/Dot Color
The new iPad has much improved colors, but at the expense of battery life.

The first thing that hit me when I powered on my new iPad wasn’t the retina-ness of the display — that takes a little time to seep into your brain. No, it was the colors. They seemed more contrasty, more saturated. More colorful. But just what was going on? Jeff Yurek, of the Dot Color blog, did some scientific digging.

Jeff tells us that, in order make the colors of a display better, you need to improve either the backlight or the filters. Apple chose the filters, and in Jeff’s graphs we can clearly see that not only are the peak values of each color higher in the new iPad than they were in the iPad 2, they are also purer: thanks to the new red, green and blue filters over the pixels, less green, say, leaks through to pixels displaying blue.

The peaks for the new iPad are clearly higher than those of the iPad 2. Photo Jeff Yurek/Dot Color

However, these purer colors result in less light actually making it through the filters to our eyes, so to keep things at the same levels, the screen needs significantly more power. How much? Jeff again:

Based on our experience, we estimate that the color improvements alone in the new display probably cause it to consume about 20-30% more power than the iPad 2′s screen

This almost alone could account for the almost 100% increase in battery capacity inside the new iPad. Add in the quad-core GPU, the LTE radio and the extra three-screens’ worth of pixels and it’s a miracle this thing stays up for more than 30 minutes. Which leads to my first prediction for the fourth-gen iPad next year: much improved battery life, as these new technologies are replaced by lower power versions.


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