iPad Mini's Retina Display finishes last in small-screen review

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and Google Nexus 7 drew higher scores in the DisplayMate shoot-out.

The iPad Mini with Retina Display loses sight of the lead. Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive

Apple's iPad Mini with Retina Display can't match Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX or the Google Nexus 7 in overall display quality, according to screen tester DisplayMate.

DisplayMate on Tuesday published its findings on the picture quality of the iPad Mini with Retina Display, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX, and Google's Nexus 7. While both Amazon and Google scored high marks in the study, Apple's tablet "comes in with a distant third-place finish."

"Apple was once the leader in mobile displays, unfortunately it has fallen way behind in both Tablets and Smartphones," DisplayMate wrote in its findings. "This should be a wakeup call."

DisplayMate evaluated the devices on a wide array of fronts, including sharpness, brightness, calibration, and color gamut. The company was impressed across the board with the visual quality of the tablets, saying they're packing more pixels into their small screens than a standard 50-inch HDTV. However, the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Nexus 7 provide 100 percent of the color gamut, or the range of colors a screen can produce. The iPad Mini with Retina Display, meanwhile, has only a 63 percent color gamut.

Apple also was knocked for going with IGZO technology in the iPad Mini, which DisplayMate says suffers from "both production shortages and inferior products." The Nexus 7, on the other hand, has LCDs with low-temperature poly silicon. Again, that technology proved more favorable to overall visual quality, DisplayMate says.

Looking ahead, DisplayMate says that the fight is far from over. The company points to new technologies coming to the market in the coming years, like super-high-density screens that could turn this evaluation on its head. For now, though, Apple is behind.

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