Apple iPad Mini Review

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Posted: December 2, 2012

Apple has been a force in the tablet world since the introduction of its first iPad. The features and functions have improved steadily through the years, but the basic design has remained largely unchanged. That all changes with the new iPad Mini, where Apple has clearly made another strong move in terms of portability, comfort and ease of use.

Hardware and Features

The exterior layout of the iPad Mini will be largely familiar to those with more than a passing familiarity with Apple devices. As always, the volume rocker is placed on the upper right edge of the device. The rocker is somewhat unique among Apple devices, however, as it doesn't feature the integrated play button of the iPod Nano nor the one-piece rocker design of the larger iPad. It's certainly functional, but feels less than polished. The headphone jack is kept on the top of the device rather than the bottom placement, bucking Apple's recent trend. Instead Apple's new dock connector called Lightning found already in iPhone 5 is located at the bottom of tablet. The rear of the device sports Apple's 5-megapixel iSight camera and the 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera resides in its usual top-front location.

The first piece of bad news centers on the display. The iPad Mini does not feature Apple's Retina display, and as such it can't quite compete directly with the iPad 4 or iPhone 5. The display is still impressive, though. The resolution is the same as the iPad 2's 1,024-by-768, but the reduced screen size produces a very respectable 163 pixels per inch. Text and other fine details are simply not as sharp as they are on Retina displays, but the overall display quality still stacks up well against nearly any other device.

Under the hood, the iPad Mini pairs a 1GHz dual-core processor with 512 megabytes of RAM. These specifications, again, are the same as the iPad 2. The specs and benchmarking performance aren't quite up to par with Apple's newest devices, but in real-world testing the difference is minimal. All but the most CPU-intensive apps boot and run briskly, and multitasking isn't much of a problem for the hardware. The slight drop in processing power is a boon to battery life, however, and the iPad Mini consistently outpaces all competitors.

Comparison: iPad Mini vs. iPad 4

On paper, the iPad Mini appears to be a significant step backward as compared to the iPad 4. The Mini loses out in terms of processing power, memory, resolution and pixel density. However, these compromises mean surprisingly little in real-world use. Those who primarily use their tablet to read or browse the internet may benefit from the iPad 4's sharper Retina display, and some especially hardware-intensive apps may perform noticeably better with its beefier hardware.

In most other conditions the performance drop is minimal. As should be expected with a bite-sized slate model with substantially longer battery life, the iPad Mini excels in terms of user comfort. The 7.9-inch Mini, just over two inches smaller than its 9.7-inch full-sized cousin, is also significantly thinner. The reduced size comes with reduced weight, making it much less taxing to hold for long periods of time. But this is much more than a shrunken iPad, as evidenced by the attractively redesigned case. The sharply tapered edges of the full iPad are gone, replaced by gently rounded edges that simply feel better and more natural.

What Customers are Saying

As with any other tablet, user experiences depend largely on the way a tablet is used. The lower resolution of the iPad Mini is a common complaint among those who often read text or use applications which require precisely detailed images. Likewise, the reduced performance can be a hindrance while buffering streaming video and doing other tasks which demand high performance. The overall form factor, ease and comfort of use and impressive battery life are often mentioned as the biggest strengths of the Mini. While opinion is divided, the consensus is that the iPad Mini does exactly what it's intended to do, and it does it extremely well.

 

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Technical Specifications

Apple iPad Mini
 Tablet  Apple iPad Mini
 Rating  Ratings
 OS  iOS6
 CPU  Apple A5
 CPU speed  1.00 GHz
 Storage  16,32,64 GB
 Screen size  7.9 inch
 Resolution  1024 x 768 px
 Weight  0.31 kg / 0.68 lbs
 Battery life  12.5 hours

 

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Battery life comparison

Battery life of selected tablet

 Tablet   (h)   Battery life 
Apple iPad Mini12.5Apple iPad Mini tablet autonomy comparison

Compared to 5 tablets with largest battery life

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 1018.0Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10 tablet autonomy comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.115.0Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 tablet autonomy comparison
Sony Xperia Z415.0Sony Xperia Z4 tablet autonomy comparison
Microsoft Surface 214.0Microsoft Surface 2 tablet autonomy comparison
Nokia Lumia 252013.5Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet autonomy comparison

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Weight comparison

Weight of selected tablet

 Tablet   kg   lbs   Weight 
Apple iPad Mini0.310.68Apple iPad Mini weight comparison

Compared to 5 lightest tablets - 7 inch

Dell Venue 70.230.52Dell Venue 7 weight comparison
NeuTab N7S Pro0.250.56NeuTab N7S Pro weight comparison
Asus ZenPad C 7.00.280.60Asus ZenPad C 7.0 weight comparison
Chromo Inc Tablet0.280.60Chromo Inc Tablet weight comparison
Apple iPad Mini 40.290.65Apple iPad Mini 4 weight comparison