Apple’s new iPad Pro with its massive 12.9 inch screen offers a stellar viewing experience but the device doesn’t quite match the quality of the iPad mini 4’s screen, according to an excruciating barrage of mobile display tests conducted by technology experts over at DisplayMate.
Surprisingly, the iPad Pro’s panel ranks slightly lower than that on Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 4 tablet/laptop hybrid and earns the same “A” rating as the iPad mini 4.
The iPad Pro’s panel was ranked with an “A-” score in DisplayMate’s mobile display technology shootout, earning a “Very Good” designation or better in all test categories.
Contrast and luminance
The iPad Pro (and iPad Air 2) both take advantage of the photo alignment technique to provide higher contrast ratios versus the more common mechanical alignment on the iPad mini 4.
And thanks to its metal oxide TFT backplane and dynamic refresh rate, the iPad Pro brings increased power efficiency by pushing more light through the panel. In terms of maximum screen brightness, the iPad mini 4 came on top with 450 nits versus 424 nits for the iPad Pro and 415 nits for the iPad Air 2.
The maximum contrast (the ratio between a display’s peak white brightness and its darkest black luminance) for the iPad Pro is a very impressive 1,631 versus 967 for the iPad mini 4 and 1,064 for the iPad Air 2.
It’s interesting that the iPad Pro has a slightly oversaturated screen versus other iPads. In terms of absolute color accuracy, the iPad Pro earned 107 versus 101 percent for the iPad mini 4 and 105 percent for the iPad Air 2.
This is due to small color errors stemming from the saturated blue primaries on the Pro. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 earned an ‘Excellent’ rating in terms of absolute color accuracy.
Absolute color accuracy tells you if a display meets or exceeds a 100 percent sRGB standard color gamut commonly used in production of photos, videos and movies viewable on HDTVs, computer screens, mobile devices and more.
Ambient light performance
“Right now all three current iPads are the unrivaled record holders for display performance in ambient light as a result of their record low screen reflectance of 2.0 to 2.6 percent, significantly lower than the 4.5 to 6.5 percent reflectance found in all other current competing tablets,” notes DisplayMate.
The iPad mini 4’s screen, again, comes on top with a reflectance of 2.0 percent versus 2.6 percent for the iPad Pro and 2.5 percent for the iPad Air. Of all three current iPads, the Pro offers the poorest visibility under bright ambient light, 163, versus 225 for the iPad mini 4 an 166 for the iPad Air 2.
The iPad Pro offers the best image quality at wide viewing angles. At 30 degrees, the device maintains its high contrast ratio with 1,015 in portrait mode and 974 in landscape mode, “the highest we have ever measured for an LCD tablet.”
All things considered, the iPad Pro’s screen earning a ‘Very Good’ to ‘Excellent’ in all test categories. The device came in first or tied for second place in every test except for “a surprising calibration issue,” which DisplayMate called unusual as all iPad and iPhone displays they tested since 2012 have “near perfect” scores in that regard.
In absolute color accuracy, the Pro “just barely qualified” for a ‘Very Good Green’ rating, ranking below the Surface Pro 4 and nowhere near as good as the iPad mini 4.
“The most significant performance differences are the iPad Pro’s much lower screen reflectance (2.6 versus 5.6 percent) and the Surface Pro 4’s much better absolute color accuracy,” DisplayMate notes.
The iPad mini 4 remains the most color-accurate tablet DisplayMate has ever tested.
“If you need a large professional grade tablet with ‘Very Good’ to ‘Excellent’ image quality and accuracy, the iPad Pro delivers a top-tier professional display,” said Dr. Raymond Soneira, President of DisplayMate.
Amherst, New Hampshire-headquartered Technologies Corporation produces display calibration, evaluation and diagnostic products for consumers, technicians and manufacturers.