Apple iPad Mini review
|Review: October 2012|
In a nutshell: The iPad Mini is a 7.9 inch version of the 10 inch iPad. It's half the weight of the 10-incher and even slimmer than the iPhone 5. Yet it does everything that the full-sized tablet can do. Why only 4 stars? Because the Wi-Fi-only version costs £100 more than rivals and the 4G version costs even more than the iPad 2!
Today's best buy: Apple iPad Mini 2 32GB from Tesco Direct (£239.00)
And so, despite Steve Jobs famously declaring that 7 inch tablets were too small, from 2nd November 2012 you'll be able to buy the iPad Mini with its 7.9 inch display.
The iPad Mini is significantly smaller than the 3rd generation iPad. It's quite a lot thinner too, with its aluminium unibody measuring just 7.2mm in thickness (see photo on right). Astonishingly that's even thinner than the iPhone 5. It takes its colour cues from the iPhone too, coming in a choice of Black & Slate or White & Silver. As you can see from the photo at the top of the page, it's compact enough to hold in one hand, but only just. In fact, you might be forgiven for thinking that it's not as mini as its name suggests, and it's certainly at the upper limit of what you can hold single-handedly. Impressively though, its weight has been slashed by a half compared with the 10-inch version.
To achieve the reduction in size, the iPad Mini uses the new Lightning connector first seen in the iPhone 5.
7.9 inch display
The screen is a 7.9 inch LED backlit display with IPS technology and fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. This is the same type of screen as used in the 3rd generation iPad, except that the pixel resolution is 163 pixels per inch (ppi) instead of 264. That's quite a significant drop and although the iPad Mini's screen is still HD, it's not as sharp is its competitors in the 7-inch space.
The screen may be smaller than the 10-inch version (by about a third) but it's the ideal size for reading an ebook.
Hardware & OS
The Mini is powered by a dual-core A5 processor, which is the type used on the iPad 2.
Like the full-sized version, the device is available in a choice of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions. In addition, iCloud lets you store content in the cloud, where it's instantly accessible to all your Apple devices.
The iPad Mini runs Apple's latest operating system - iOS 6.
Like most tablets, the device features dual cameras. The main rear-mounted camera has the same spec as the camera in the 10-inch iPad, with a resolution of 5 megapixels, autofocus and a feature Apple cheerfully refers to as "backside illumination." This is a feature first introduced in the iPhone 4 that enables enhanced low-light image capture. It also has a large f2.4 aperture for extra light collection. The camera can record video at full HD 1080p resolution.
The second front-facing camera now supports HD FaceTime calls and can also take still pictures at a 1.2 megapixel resolution.
It's worth pointing out that the reduced size and weight of the Mini make the camera so much easier to use.
Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity
The iPad Mini comes in a choice of Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi plus cellular. The Wi-Fi is a dual-channel implementation with support for download speeds to 150 Mbps. You can also choose the Wi-Fi plus cellular version, which supports 4G LTE with speeds up to 100Mbps and 3G HSPA data connections too.
In addition to the Wi-Fi/cellular connections, the Mini has a Lightning connector, a 3.5mm stereo headphone minijack and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity. AirPlay supports mirroring to Apple TV (2nd and 3rd generation) at 720p resolution via Wi-Fi.
A Lightning to USB cable is supplied in the box, as well as a USB power adapter.
The battery in the iPad Mini is a 16.3-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery. This has less than 40% of the capacity of the battery used in the 10-inch iPad. However, Apple claims that it will last just as long, handling up to 10 hours of Wi-Fi-based web browsing, watching video, or listening to music.
Conclusion - nice size, very expensive
Could it be that Steve Jobs was wrong when he said that 7 inches was too small? Or was he right and 7.9 inches is the ideal size? We think that the lightweight superslim iPad Mini could turn out to be an even bigger seller than the full-sized version. Although it's smaller than the normal iPad, the iPad Mini is designed specifically to do everything that the full-sized version does. It's just cheaper and more portable.
Just how cheap is it? A lot cheaper than the 3rd generation iPad, which will set you back £500+. The most basic 16GB Wi-Fi only version of the iPad Mini will cost £269 at launch. Compare that with the Kindle Fire HD & Google Nexus 7 at £159, and you can see that as always, Apple is priced very much at the premium end of the market.
Of course the iPad is unrivalled when it comes to content, with over 275,000 apps available for download from the App Store. There are plenty of apps pre-installed, like the Safari web browser, Apple Maps, photo & video editors and the voice-activated assistant Siri. These apps work on the Mini just like they do on the full-sized tablet.
That's the key selling point of the iPad - that it just works. The recent glitches with Apple Maps, damaged and scuffed iPhones and fiascos like "antenna-gate" just don't seem to damage Apple's reputation in this regard.
At £269 and with a larger screen than its 7-inch rivals, the iPad Mini 16GB Wi-Fi version can justify its premium price. But the £369 asked for the 16GB cellular version, rising to an extraordinary £529 for the 64GB cellular model is surely a joke.
Apple iPad Mini features include:
- Operating system: iOS 6
- Display: 7.9 inch LED backlit multi-touch screen with 1024 x 768 pixels
- 5 megapixel 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 and GLONASS (cellular version only)
- Digital compass
- Internet: Safari web browser, YouTube
- Built-in stereo speakers
- Processor: Dual-core Apple A5 processor
- Memory: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB models
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, Lightning connector, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
- 4G LTE , UMTS/HSPA 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz, GSM/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz (Wi-Fi + 4G model only)
- Size: 200 x 135 x 7.2 mm
- Weight: 308g (Wi-Fi model) or 312g (Wi-Fi + 4G model)
- Battery: 16.3 watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
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Apple iPad Mini user reviews
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Average rating from 4 reviews:
Reviewed by Mel
on 5th Dec 2014
Bought in recent sale for a very good price. Good display, good battery and speedy. Feels solid and good quality. Very happy with it. Linked to my iPhone so I can send and receive texts and phone calls. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by Tris from UK on 14th Apr 2013
I bought my iPad mini after buying a nexus 7 for work. There are a number of reasons why I chose apple for my own personal tablet. No1 is the reliability. Its rock solid in both hardware and software. It runs without any hickups. The quality of apps are generally better then android and there are more tablet optimised apps. Battery is outstanding. Don't get me wrong the nexus 7 is great for its price point but the fact is I found myself just using it as I used my previous iPad. In everyday use the mini is just so easy to use it doesn't need customising like android. The form factor of the mini for me is a bit better too. I feel it displays web pages better.I know it costs a fair bit more then others in this range but I think its worth it. The reason for this is I feel my nexus is already showing signs of age after 6 months and my mini is as fast and sturdy as the day I bought it. In short its just a better product in my view. Just to show I'm not biased toward apple..... As a mobile phone os I don't like it. I use windows phone, however on a tablet I think iOS is great. That coupled with great hardware I think makes the mini truly great.
Reply by Tris from UK on 16th Apr
Another thing to mention is the fact that on the iPad miniipad 4th gen there is no native YouTube app. Its not a great problem as there are very good clients. The worrying thing is maybe this is a sign of things to come as there is no word on Google developing one on this version of iOS. This is an area where android and nexus 7 have a clear advantage. Defiantly something to think if you want everything out of the box.
Reply by Tris from Uk on 30th Apr
YouTube is back on iOS 6 now for tablet.
Reviewed by Paul B from England on 27th Mar 2013
I love my iPad mini. I was dubious about getting one as I had the iPad 3 but needed something smaller for travel and work. I did toy with the idea of the Nexus 7 (which is superb) but I have a lot of paid content through iTunes that I didn't want to lose. I am so glad that I chose the mini. I must admit that I can't really tell the difference in screen quality with the 3 that I owned. I have the 32GB 4G version as I need the connectivity whilst out and about and it doesn't miss a beat. Battery life is superb and I prefer the lightening adapter as opposed to the old pin connector as I find it easier to plug in as there is no wrong or right way. Just a shame Apple didn't adopt this earlier. You don't need the "meaty" mains adapter that you need with the conventional iPad, this just uses the same small plug that the iPhone has. Portability, superb battery life, great screen and all the functionality of the full size iPad. What's not to like? Well, the price I guess but you are getting a premium item for the money. Looking forward to seeing what Apple adopt for the mini2 in a few months time but at the moment I'm quite happy with mine!
Reviewed by John Burns from Ireland on 5th Nov
The iPad mini is a delight and so comfortable to use. I love the size and gaming is a real pleasure. Build is sleek and solid. I would give it 5 stars if it had of had retina display so for this one its getting 4 stars.