Repair Labs has tested the iPad mini versus other iPad displays under a 150x zoom microscope. The iPad mini’s display is compared to the iPad 2 and Retina display equipped iPad 3/4 and the results are shown on an HDTV to get a better picture of what the differences are.
Here is the iPad mini versus the iPad 4; you can notice a huge difference in pixel density:
Here is the iPad mini (LEFT) vs iPad 2 (RIGHT), which shows a surprising difference:
Update: we’ve contacted Repair Labs about the labelling of which iPad is shown on the left and right here as their posted detailed the iPad mini on the right, which looks more to be the iPad 2 display.
Update 2: Curtis from Repair Labs emailed us back to say they made a mistake and mixed up the labels in the picture below–iPad mini is on the left.
As for the new iPad 4 (right) verses the old iPad 3 (left)? Not many differences at all considering the displays are the same (although iFixit detected a LG display instead of Samsung unit in their teardown):
Which iPad should you buy based on the display alone? Repair Labs concludes:
But if you buy and iPad mini, are you going to be sad that you don’t have the glorious Retina display?
So the question remains. Which device is the best to purchase, based solely on displays? If price point is your major consideration, you’ll be choosing between the iPad mini, which costs $329, and the iPad 2nd Generation, a larger size for $399, but without Retina Display. In theory, these displays should be basically equivalent.
But when viewed under the microscope, you can see that the pixels of the mini are much smaller, it looks a little over half the size of the 2nd Gen (it measures in 81% of the 2nd Gen’s 132 ppi, to be exact). The mini boasts 163 ppi, more than the 1st and 2nd generation iPads. The pixels are packed much more densely into a smaller screen.
It really will come down to your needs and what you want to use the iPad mini for. Once people get their hands on the smaller form factor and impressive build quality, the lack of a Retina display might not matter as portability takes over.