When Phil Schiller unveiled the iPad Mini, he eagerly pointed out that the tablet has a larger screen than the Google Nexus 7 and therefore it’s a better product that delivers a better overall experience.
Well, the Kindle Fire HD is also to be found in the same category as the N7 and boasts a similar display, so we figured out we should talk a bit about what these differences between screen sizes and aspect ratios mean for an end-user on a day-to-day basis. More details below.
Kindle Fire HD vs iPad Mini vs Google Nexus 7
First things first, let’s talk about the obvious. The iPad Mini arrives with a 7.9 inch display with an aspect ratio of 4:3, whereas both the Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD have a screen size of 7 inches and boast an aspect ratio of 16:10. Obviously, the display on the iPad Mini has a 35% larger screen surface so, in theory, it should offer more on-screen content than the rest, which is a good thing. However, in practice it’s a slightly different story.
Apple’s math hasn’t explained the other side of the coin. The Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD arrive with a display that boasts a higher resolution and a higher pixel density and therefore the image quality on both Android tablets is better, less grainy than the one you’d get from a Mini. As a result, on the iPad Mini you get a larger image than on the other two, but the Android-powered tablets offer a smaller yet clearer image, thanks to the fact that both the Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 7 have roughly %30 more pixels crammed in the 7-inch display.
Take a look at the images below and see the effects. The “pixels” highlighted in red represent the iPad Mini and those in blue represent the Nexus 7 / Kindle Fire HD. The image to the left shows the difference in screen size, whereas the image to the right shows the difference in pixel count.
The story isn’t stopping here however, because the aspect ratio is also raising some questions. We’ve already mentioned that because the iPad Mini has a 4:3 screen that’s larger than the 16:10 displays on either one of the Android tablets, it’s more difficult to hold it in your hand and operate it. However, there are other side effects as well, some of which are positive, while others aren’t.
Due to the fact that the iPad Mini is “taller” in landscape mode you get more information on it while browsing the web or using certain apps. We’ve seen before how the Mini is able to display more columns in landscape mode than the Nexus 7.
In portrait mode however, it’s not much of a difference, other than the fact that the fact that on the iPad you get a larger image, but not necessarily more information (or a higher quality picture).
Last but not least, the difference in aspect ratio poses a few problems for the iPad Mini. Whilst reading books or browsing the web is slightly more convenient, watching movies comes with drawbacks. First of all, you won’t benefit from true 720p video quality due to its lower screen resolution.
Second of all, you won’t be able to really go full-screen while watching a video without side effects. Once again, the on-screen objects are larger on the iPad Mini, but in widescreen mode it doesn’t make use of the entire surface of the display (top row of images from below). Whilst in full-screen mode, the results are not really what a movie enthusiast would like to see. The image is indeed larger, but it’s also chopped up due to the 4:3 aspect ratio (bottom row).
So what’s the conclusion? I believe you have the necessary information to form your own opinion regarding the matter. Both display types come with benefits and shortcomings, and neither is perfect. What we can safely say is that Apple’s iPad Mini is not always able to benefit from that 35% larger screen without side effects and that although browsing is more convenient, image quality suffers.
Feel free to drop us a line and let us know your opinion regarding the matter.
Thanks Imore for the heads-up regarding the Kindle Fire HD vs iPad Mini vs Google Nexus 7 display properties comparison.