Apple iPad Mini 2 review
|Review: November 2013|
In a nutshell: The iPad Mini 2 with Retina display is an iPad Air in a smaller size. Everything is here - from the Retina display to the A7 processor - just the size and the cost are less.
Today's best buy: Apple iPad Mini 2 16GB from Gameseek (£251.24)
Design & looks
The iPad Mini with Retina Display (iPad Mini 2) follows the tried and tested Apple formula in its design. It's a great-looking tablet, almost the same as the original iPad Mini, but ever so slightly thicker and heavier. It's still a superslim and lightweight device, and it feels absolutely solid. 5 stars for build quality and design, without a doubt.
The 7.9 inch screen fits midway between the 7 inch entry-level tablets and the full-size 10 inchers. You get about 30% extra screen space here compared with a 7 inch tablet, and that definitely makes a difference. At the same time, the iPad Mini is one of the slimmest and lightest tablets available, so it's a win-win.
Whereas the first iPad Mini had a frankly inadequate display with a low resolution, this Retina display version has an incredible screen. Here we have 2048 x 1536 pixels, which is more than 1080p HD, and it delivers a stunning 326 pixels per inch for a display of amazing clarity. It's all the pixels of the iPad Air packed into a smaller screen. It's the best screen on any mini tablet we've tested. It's also the most sensitive too, with a latency of just 58 milliseconds, which is lower than any other smartphone or tablet! It's an incredible result and makes the choice between the Mini and the iPad Air even harder.
New A7 processor
Another complaint about the first iPad Mini was that the processor just wasn't fast enough. That issue has been decisively swept aside with the inclusion of Apple's 64-bit A7 chip and the M7 motion coprocessor. That's the same hardware used in the iPad Air and the iPhone 5s, making the iPad Mini one of the fastest mobile devices available.
The available RAM has been doubled from 512MB to 1GB, although that still puts it behind other high-end tablets and smartphones.
The available memory is 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or a whopping 128GB, but as always with Apple products there's no memory expansion option, so choosing the right model is critical. 16GB is really on the small side and we'd advise you to choose a larger memory if you want to future proof your purchase. Of course, the price of the tablet starts to shoot up as the memory size rises ...
The iPad Mini Retina was built for iOS 7. Read our handy guide to iOS 7 for more on this. iOS 7 provides a wealth of pre-installed apps including the Safari web browser, Apple Maps, FaceTime video chat, the Siri personal assistant, iTunes. Another million or so apps are downloadable from the App Store, as well as the music, books, videos and content that brings your tablet to life.
In common with the iPad Air, the iPad Mini has two cameras. The rear-facing iSight camera has 5 megapixels, autofocus and "backside illumination" for improved low-light photography. It can record video at full HD 1080p resolution. As tablet cameras go, it's one of the best, but we're not big fans of using tablets as cameras.
More to our taste is the front-facing 1.2 megapixel camera that can be used for selfies or for FaceTime video calls at 720p HD resolution.
Another choice must be made here - whether to choose the Wi-Fi version (which most people will choose) or to pay another £100 for a Wi-Fi plus 4G version. The 4G version weighs just 10g more and makes the tablet truly portable and it also incorporates a GPS receiver for use with Apple Maps.
Both versions include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, a 3.5mm stereo headphone mini-jack and a Lightning connector.
The battery of the iPad Mini has been substantially upgraded to a 23.8 watt-hour capacity battery, which is the main reason for the increased size and weight of the tablet. In more familiar units, this battery is equivalent to 6471 mAh, making it one of the largest batteries on a mid-sized tablet. Even with Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity in operation, this should see you through most of a day's continuous use.
Conclusion - gorgeous but very expensive
There's no doubt that this is one of the very best mid-range tablets available. Is it the best? Probably. It's really just a smaller version of the wonderful iPad Air and it outperforms Samsung's Galaxy Tab range and also the Google Nexus 7.
So why the 4 star rating? It's the price. It would be oh-so-easy to give a 5 star review to every product we loved. If we reviewed cars on that basis we'd be handing out 5 star awards to every Porsche, Ferrari and BMW that came anywhere near us. In real life, people have to make tough decisions, and so do we at S21. When you consider that the 32GB version of the iPad Mini costs twice as much as the excellent Nexus 7 and 4 times as much as the Kindle Fire HD, you seriously have to question whether you're getting value for money here. If tablets were given away for free, the iPad Mini would have easily got its 5 stars, but when we take into account the cost, we have to reduce the rating to 4.
As for the iPad Mini vs iPad Air question, it's a close call and depends on the size of your wallet and how portable you need your tablet to be.
Apple iPad Mini 2 features include:
- Operating system: iOS 7
- Display: 7.9 inch LED backlit multi-touch IPS screen with 2048 x 1536 pixels
- 5 megapixel BSI camera with autofocus, touch focus & face detection
- HD 1080p video recording, secondary HD 720p camera for video calling (FaceTime)
- Music & media player
- Messaging: Text, photo & video messages, email with document attachments
- Assisted GPS (cellular version only)
- Digital compass
- Internet: Safari web browser, YouTube
- Built-in stereo speakers
- Processor: A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
- Memory: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB models
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, Lightning connector, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
- 4G LTE , UMTS/HSPA, GSM/EDGE (Wi-Fi + 4G model only)
- Size: 200 x 135 x 7.5 mm
- Weight: 331g (Wi-Fi model) or 341g (Wi-Fi + 4G model)
- Battery: 23.8 watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
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Apple iPad Mini 2 user reviews
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Average rating from 3 reviews:
Reviewed by Mel
on 9th Feb 2015
Had iPad mini and wanted to upgrade. Considered the 3 but wasn't prepared to pay the extra just for a fingerprint sensor and a few millimetres difference! The minis suit me better, more portable and yet better then a 7 inch tablet. The quality and reliability are second to none. Was definitely worth upgrading as the screen is far better and its faster.
Reviewed by Ryan
on 10th Dec 2013
Was due an upgrade on my iPad New which I've had from Spring 2012 decided to give the mini a try and haven't looked back despite being a bit smaller then I haven't noticed the difference in screen size probably because I zoom in a lot and it's certainly a great deal lighter tho Apple have done a cracking job with the iPad Air but is it really worth an extra £150 for another two inches? Each to their own!!!
Reviewed by Peter
on 28th Nov 2013
Upgraded from the iPad mini 16gb to the 64gb retina version. Love it. Expensive but worth it. The only thing with apple products that I don't like is the amount they charge for extra storage. I've had a nexus 7 which was great but the extra size of the iPad screen makes a difference for me. I agree with the 4 star rating. If it was £100 cheaper it would be 5 stars.