iPad Pro vs. iPad Air 2 vs. iPad mini 4: Which Apple Tablet Has The Best Display?

The iPad is undoubtedly synonymous with tablets for its incredible displays. But which Apple tablet – if one were to choose the winner among the siblings – has the best display? We take a look.

Along with the innards, a determining factor one considers when purchasing a tablet is the display’s quality and size.

Apple has three stellar tablets that cater to all needs and pack in fabulous Retina displays. The iPad is undoubtedly synonymous with tablets for its incredible displays. But which Apple tablet – if one were to choose the winner among the siblings – has the best display?

Will it be the iPad mini 4, the iPad Air 2, or the recently-launched iPad Pro? To answer this quandary, DisplayMate conducted a series of Mobile Display Technology Shoot-Out Lab measurements and tests to know how the iPad mini 4, the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro tablet displays fare against each other.

The lab measurements conducted by DisplayMate were carried out based on categories such as brightness and contrast, screen reflections, viewing angles, display power, colors and intensities, and LCD Spectra.

While the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and the iPad mini 4 all have IPS LCDs, the performance enhancements are different. The other obvious difference in the tablets’ display is the screen sizes which vary from 7.9 inches, 9.7 inches to 12.9 inches.

The Retina displays on all three tablets mean that the pixels of the devices are not resolved at the traditional 20/20 vision. While the iPad mini has the smallest screen of the three Apple tablets, its display accounts for the highest PPI of all three i.e., 326ppi vis-à-vis 264ppi of the iPad Pro and iPad Air 2. This difference is owing to the iPad mini 4 being viewed at a closer distance than its siblings.

Since the iPad Pro has the biggest display of the three, the PPI of the tablet results in the highest resolution among all i.e., 2,732 x 2,048 pixels vis-à-vis the 2,048 x 1,536 pixels of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4. We take a look at how the three tablets fared in the lab measurements.

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True Contrast Ratio

Since the iPad mini 4 does not sport a Photo Aligned LCD like the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro, it scored a Very Good and not the Best. The top honors in this measurement go to the iPad Pro. The scores for contrast ratio in 0 lux for low ambient light conditions were as follows:

iPad mini 4 – 967

iPad Air 2 – 1,064

iPad Pro – 1,631

Screen Reflectance

In this category, the iPad mini 4 again surprisingly emerged the winner with a Record Low Reflectance of 2.0 percent compared to the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro’s reflectance of 2.5 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

Absolute Color Accuracy

Another category that determines the quality of a display is its color accuracy. The tests revealed that the iPad mini 4 has excellent color accuracy and small color errors, followed by the iPad Pro with very good color accuracy and small color errors. The iPad Air 2 fared the worst in this assessment with good color accuracy and medium color errors.

Color Gamut

This category also saw iPad mini 4 emerge as the winner with 101 percent, followed by the iPad Pro (105 percent) and the iPad Air 2 (107 percent).

Image Contrast Accuracy

In this category, the smallest tablet took the honors as it has an excellent image contrast accuracy which is “close to perfect.” iPad Air 2 scored an excellent as well, but its image contrast accuracy was not close to perfect but close to standard. Languishing at the last spot was the latest iPad Pro, which had a very good image contrast accuracy, albeit slightly irregular.

Overall Display Calibration Image and Picture Quality

In this lab test, while the iPad mini 4 emerged the best with excellent calibration, the iPad Pro and iPad Air 2 were tied with very good calibration. However, while the White Point for the iPad Pro was slightly too blue, the iPad Air 2 was a shade higher at “somewhat too blue.”

In the overall assessment, the iPad mini 4 score an Excellent Display A. The iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro garnered the rates Very Good Display A- for medium and large-sized tablets, respectively.

“The iPad mini 4 is close to being a textbook perfect LCD display in all of the Lab measurements and viewing tests. Among the iPads, it takes first place and is marked Best in every single test category except Contrast Ratio – where it has a Very Good but not the highest,” per DisplayMate.

The iPad Pro’s display likewise performed fairly well in the overall scoring, getting a very good to excellent mark in most categories. The iPad Air 2’s display appeared to be the weakest of the three coming in tied or last in most categories.

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