Data Monday: Physical Device & Viewport Sizes

by Luke Wroblewski November 17, 2012

Last week my iPad Mini arrived. While I'm mostly enamored with it, one thing feels really wrong: the Web browser viewport. It's not the size of the screen (other 7 inch tablets don't have this issue), it's the scaling of Web pages...

  • Google's Nexus 7 has a 7.086" screen and a 800x1280 pixel display. But it uses 603 pixels for it's viewport device-width. This results in easy to read text and fairly easy to tap controls on Web pages especially those built responsively to adapt to various screen widths. (source)
  • Amazon's original Kindle Fire has a 7" screen and a 600x1024 pixel display. It uses 600 pixels for it's viewport device-width. While the fact that the Kindle Fire uses it's hardware pixel count for the viewport is problematic, the device's low pixel count actually helps. That is, Web pages are tolerably sized when built responsively to adapt to screen size. In fact the end result is comparable to the Nexus 7: 600 pixels on a 7" screen. (source)
  • Apple's iPad Mini has a 7.9" screen and a 768x1024 pixel display. It uses 768 pixels for it's viewport device-width. Like the Kindle Fire, this is a direct match between hardware pixels and viewport width. But the extra 168 pixels has a big impact. (source)
  • Web pages on the iPad Mini are rendered 27% smaller than on the Google Nexus 7 (calculated based on the relative size of device pixels). This results in hard to read text and difficult to touch tap targets on Web pages. (source)
  • Based on W3C recommendations, the iPad Mini should use a viewport of about 400 pixels. Not 768. (source)
  • Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD has a 7" and a 800x1280 pixel display. It uses 533 pixels for it's viewport device-width. Pretty much inline with the W3C recommendations. (source)
  • Why did Apple not adjust the Web browser viewport on the iPad Mini? Most likely to avoid fragmentation issues. That's understandable for native application development but for the Web as well? Perhaps they're concerned about all the Web site optimization already in place for the iPad. (source)
  • Little wonder this is how a lot of organizations act. Several studies have found that Apple's iPad constitutes over 90% of tablet Web browsing today. (source)