Apple Says iPad Mini ‘Jelly Scrolling’ Is Normal
Apple has just released the updated iPad Mini, a device that packs most of what makes the larger iPads so popular into a diminutive frame. This tablet has an 8.3-inch 60Hz LCD display with narrow bezels and impressive brightness for a tablet. It also exhibits a phenomenon dubbed “jelly scrolling,” which some owners are unable to ignore now that they’ve seen it. Apple, however, says the screen is working as intended.
Jelly scrolling has popped up from time to time, usually when an OEM mounts the display on a phone oddly. For example, OnePlus designed the OnePlus 5 with an upside-down screen. This is a problem because LCDs refresh from top to bottom. If you flip it around, the varying refresh across the panel makes things look weirdly “liquid” as they move around.
The iPad Mini does not have an upside-down LCD panel, but the jelly scrolling effect is obvious when you hold the device in portrait orientation. As you can see in the video below, the screen refreshes side-to-side when you hold it in portrait. You can also see a clear dividing line down the middle of the LCD. That makes content look like it’s stretching as you scroll (almost everything on mobile devices scrolls vertically), but the effect is absent in landscape orientation because the screen refreshes top to bottom as intended.
Here is is slow-mo video of scrolling on the iPad Min i slowed down EVEN MORE in a frame-by-frame step through. Notice how the right moves up faster than the left.
In normal usage you barely see it, but every now and then it become noticeable. In landscape it goes away entirely pic.twitter.com/iq9LGJzsDI
— Dieter Bohn (@backlon) September 22, 2021
In response to complaints, Apple said this is normal. Because LCDs refresh line-by-line, you should expect jelly scrolling. We disagree. Most devices don’t exhibit noticeably jelly scrolling, even though they all work the same on an engineering level. Apple’s other iPads with 60Hz screens don’t attract the same complaints, including the new $329 base model iPad. For $500, you’d expect the Mini to be at least as good, but it’s unclear why the distortion is more prominent here. Perhaps the smaller footprint makes the stretching more obvious, or Apple might have gone with a cheaper display on the Mini to save a few bucks. Ars Technica reported Apple’s initial response and maintains that this problem is uniquely visible on the new Mini.
When Apple says this is nothing to worry about, what it really means is there’s nothing for Apple to worry about. Since the iPad Mini display is working as intended, it won’t have to make any changes or recall units. If you’ve got a Mini and the jelly scrolling is already getting on your nerves, it might be time to return it — it won’t get better over time. There are rumors Apple is planning to make landscape the “correct” orientation when it releases new Pro models. So, perhaps the Mini is just ahead of the curve.