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March 16, 2012

Apple iPad 3: A first screen evaluation

Screen comparison of The new iPad (iPad 3, left) and the original iPad (iPad 1, right)
The image is shot in tungsten ambient light.
White balance is set such that a white background on the iPad 1 appears white.
Both devices show a page in iBooks using the Sepia theme.
Image (c) 2012 Falk Lumo
Above is a direct comparison of the Retina screen of the New iPad (left) to the original iPad (right).

Please click onto the image to see the full size image exhibiting the physical pixel structure of each device.

As you can see, the new iPad has a much higher resolution (Apple says 2048 x 1536). Apple also claims the new iPad to have "44 percent greater color saturation". Photos definitely are displayed with incredible detail. There certainly are photos which looked ok on older devices or even a computer screen but are ugly on the new iPad. Especially artefacts from too strong a noise reduction are very visible on the new iPad. Therefore, the new iPad sets a new proof reading reference for photographers.

However, I must say that I am a bit concerned that on the new iPad, the "Sepia" iBook theme certainly doesn't appear Sepia at all. It has a definite greenish color cast. You may look at the image above to see what I mean. To be fair, in that image the white balance was calibrated to a white iPad 1 background. However, the image shows exactly what my subjective impression was too. And objectively, the iPad 3 is more Greenish and less Reddish than the iPad 1. The iPad 3 is a production device delivered today.

One may think that the difference is in color temperature only. However, if I calibrate for white balance of the new iPad or the iPad 1, they both calibrate to the same color temperature. It is the so-called "tint" which is different. Therefore, one or both of the iPads have a color cast.

So, I am wondering what is going on here?

Does the iPad 3 lack a color profile that it certainly would need?

And if this is the case, does it make the new iPad obsolete as a serious tool for photographers?

I hope that Apple will soon issue a statement of clarification.


UPDATE 10 days later:

In the Apple support forums, a minority of users expressed the opinion that the cause for the yellow/green tint is glue which just has to dry. So, letting the screen burn in would resolve the issue.

After a bit over 10 days with most of the time powered on at full display brightness, I am sorry to report that the effect of burn in is zero. It is NOT a glue problem (for the new iPad). See for yourself:

Screen comparison of The new iPad (iPad 3, left) and the original iPad (iPad 1, right)
-- After ten days of continuous burn in of the iPad3's display --
The image is shot in tungsten ambient light.
White balance is set such that a white background on the iPad 1 appears white.
Both devices show a page in iBooks using the Sepia theme.
Image (c) 2012 Falk Lumo

Moreover, I carried my sample of the iPad3 to my local Apple Store. I showed it to a store manager. Without hesitance, he confirmed that there is a problem. I then looked at three other iPad3 devices the store had on display. They all had the yellow/green tint if compared to an iPad2. Although to a lesser extent than mine and one device, I would have deemed acceptable. Therefore, there are better iPad3 devices out there. Nevertheless, the device shown in my blog article is still quite typical of what to expect in any individual case.

The store manager advised to mark my sample as defect if it is engraved and returned. I asked how Apple could ever repair it if all devices have the same problem to some extent. He meant he has no clue but I should contact a genius :)

End of UPDATE


Thanks for having stopped by,
Falk

13 comments:

  1. I noticed the same thing. The color just looks yellow-ish green. Kind sucks.

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  2. Yep, same here.

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  3. My iPad 3 has more of a reddish-yellow cast. Whites appear yellow indoors, but pink when using my iPad outdoors (in natural daylight). Not what I want to see against a white bezel :/

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  4. I totally agree. It's like a bad IPS monitor, switches color casts depending on the viewing angle. Which is exactly the problem, too narrow of a viewing angle. From one angle green color cast, another red/pink or blue. It's god awful. I bought the iPad 3 so my kids can play with the iPad 2 but Im going to return it. It does make pictures look spectacular but I don't trust the colors.

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  5. Turn on full bright, turn off auto-bright, let it burn in, you will be fine.

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  6. I noticed the same thing. The display appears too cool. You may be right about it being a tint problem but the bottom line is that yellows and reds just die. And then strangely certain greens (for example the lime green in the Messages app on the home screen)are so overblown/outside of the rest of the color space that they seem neon/they seem to glow. My guess: the display has a slightly worse viewing angle (at least with regards to color fidelity) and more importantly the default (and thanks to apple) ONLY calibration is just far too cool/green.

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  7. What I've noticed is that your white iPad frame appears very off color. Seems there is too little adjustment in your ambient light adjustment. The photo is useless to compare white balance.

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    1. Dear Anonymous, you took care of the right issue but jumped to conclusion. You are not correct.

      In my images above, the screens illuminate be themselves, the ambient light is tungsten and makes the bezel look whatever the ambient light color is. I made sure that the white balance in the image above is made such that a white window background in the iPad 2 appears neutral white. To understand my point better, imagine I would have taken the image in a pure dark room. Then you see that the ambient light color is irrelevant and that I did the correct color calibration.

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  8. If you are saying that you adjusted to iPad2 to appear white - then I think you reached the wrong conclusion. It does not indicate that the iPad 3 is more green, it means that you have color corrected the pure neutral white of the iPad 3 to appear more green than it is.
    The only way to tell which one of the two pads is more correct is to color correct to a known white such as a piece of paper then shoot both iPads. It is well known that the iPad 1 and 2 both tend toward the red end of the color spectrum and are not neutral as you have assumed.

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    1. @Anonymous, please everybody provide a nick name it is the netiquette. THNX

      Also, posts from the above poster get flagged spam. So please, avoid verbosity.

      Wrt to proper white balance. You are theoretically right, I only showed one device is more yellow/green than the other. If you look up the article, I checked I don't see a simple difference in color temperature though. With a light source like a screen, you can't calibrate against a white surface, only against another light source. So, my approach is correct using the other iPad as source. Regarding a possible red cast with the earlier iPads. First, just see it with your own eyes, there won't be any debate which device has the cast. Meanwhile, Apple Store managers confirmed it straight away to me. Moreover, several iPad 3 all had the cast but to several different degrees. Where all iPad 2 in the store were equal.

      And eventually, it does not matter. Photo processing Apps such as Photoshop or iPhoto must be color calibrated to some device. And for backward compatibility it must be the original iPad. Which is a good thing because people did not complain about a color cast then. Which they do now for the new iPad however.

      So, while you may have an argument in theory, in practice you lack own hands on experience to properly judge this.

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  9. Note: I updated the article to discuss if the screen could burn in and develop a better color balance.

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  10. As a photographer and Photo lab owner, I am used to comparing colours all day long, and can notice very small differences in colour.

    I spent a weekend setting up my iPad 3 and as soon as I got my photos transfered I noticed the green cast, esp in any brown or cream colours. I compared this to my iPad 1 and two mates iPad 2s. The iPad 2's were both warmer than the iPad 1, but being warmer is less of a crime.

    The next day I went back to the shop I bought it in. I showed the shop staff and they could see what I meant before I showed them the same images on the iPad 1. I also compared mine with the iPad 1 and iPad 2 on display. The iPad 3 was the same as the one I bought and the iPad2's were the same as the ones I had seen the day before. They gave me a refund without a problem.

    The next day I was passing near a Apple Store, so I popped in to try to confirm the findings. They had many iPad 2s and even more iPad 3s. All displayed the same differences to the iPad 1 as I had observed. I asked the staff, and they could see what I meant but were not prepared to pass the information up to the Apple R&D! Even though they agreed it was not right they needed more people to tell them before they could tell anyone. Very poor customer service in my opinion.

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  11. I have found that on white backed pages, web pages, iBooks, etc., that I start to notice a green hue develop on one specific spot on the screen. I found it annoying, took it into Best Buy, and sure enough, the display models did not have the same problem. Of course, they were of either black or white 64 GB model, so now I'm stuck with it because I am now outside of my factory warranty. I'm going back in today to see if they happen to have them in stock yet, but there is definitely a problem. I find it frustrating that Apple disallows users from tweaking color balances for each device. Yes, the crisp display is nice, but it's hard to enjoy when I have to suffer through a giant green blob dominating the screen.

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