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Apple's iPad Pro boasts 'top tier display,' but falls behind iPad mini 4 & Microsoft Surface Pro 4

A showdown pitting the new iPad Pro display against the rest of the tablet market has found that Apple's new 12.9-inch Retina display is an excellent panel, though it can't outmatch the new iPad mini 4 screen, and even ranks slightly lower than the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

The results of the test, published on Tuesday by Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate, ranked the iPad Pro display as being "very good" or better in all test categories. In all, the iPad Pro panel was ranked with an "A-" score.

Dings against the larger tablet came as a result of "slightly irregular" results when measured on DisplayMate's logarithmic intensity scale. Soneira said that was an unusual distinction, considering each iPad and iPhone display tested by the company since 2012 has featured "near perfect" Log-Straight Intensity scales.

Perhaps most surprising is the fact that the iPad Pro also performed at a slightly lower level on some tests than Microsoft's Surface Pro 4. With respect to color accuracy, the iPad Pro was described as "very good" but with small color errors, while the Surface Pro 4, in a recent test, earned an "excellent" rating.

The Surface Pro 4 earned an overall display grade of "A," equaling the outstanding rating also given to the iPad mini 4 and besting the "A-" for the iPad Pro. Despite the blemishes, DisplayMate still categorizes the iPad Pro as a "top tier display."

The iPad Pro did best Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 in one key category: screen reflectance. Apple's reduced glare panel on the iPad Pro had a reflectance rate of just 2.6 percent, easily topping the 5.6 percent reflectance of the Surface Pro 4.

Of the three iPad models tested, the iPad mini 4 was the clear winner, earning a "Best" rating in every test category aside from Contrast Ratio. Soneira described Apple's smallest tablet as "unquestionably" having the best and most accurate display of any LCD tablet they've tested.

Tied with the iPad Pro earning an "A-" score was Apple's iPad Air 2. The 9.7-inch tablet, first released in 2014, was given a "Very Good" rating, but in almost every test and measurement came behind both the iPad 4 and iPad Pro.