The Apple iPad mini 4 is the best tablet in its class and a definite upgrade on its forebears. It comes with a price tag to boot – sticker shock is all but guaranteed. The question is, does it have enough features to justify the cost?
Dimensions & Build Quality
The first thing you notice holding the Mini 4 is the almost grotesque pleasure one feels just touching it. The build quality overall is superb and the boffins at Cupertino have managed to shave even more from the thickness of the device.
Like the Mini 3, it is 8 inches by 5.3 inches, but it’s now only 0.24 inches thick. That’s 6.1 millimeters. Nice, though the equally over-engineered Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is just 5.6 millimeters.
The screen is an upgrade over the Mini 3 – it’s the same 7.9-inch Retina display but now it comes fully laminated, which reduces glare some. It’s a gorgeous screen, though some will prefer the Super AMOLED Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. The Mini 4 beams out 326 pixels per inch at 2048-by-1536 resolution.
How about the weight? The Mini 3 was light enough – the Mini 4 has been on a bikini diet and is down to 10.4 ounces (295 grams). It comes in Silver, Gold, and that Apple favorite ‘Space Gray’.
The usual you get with Apple tablets: stereo speakers, lightning connector, headphone jack – but no USB ports, no HDMI, no microSD. This isn’t a pain – until it is.
The rear iSight camera has been improved, from 5MP to 8, and now comes with ‘burst mode’. It’s a pretty good camera and if you’re the sort of person who uses a tablet PC to take photos, this won’t let you down. Most of the snaps you take with this will look very nice, though of course, it’s no match for some lenses out there – 40MP on the Nokia Lumia, anyone?
The front FaceTime camera is the same as before – it does its job.
Internals & Software
The Mini 4 has been given some of Apple’s faster chips. It rocks a 64bit A8 CPU, 1.3 times as powerful as the Mini 2. The M8 graphics chip is 1.6 times faster than the Mini 2’s equivalent.
Throw in 2GB of RAM and you get a device somewhat close to the specs of the iPad Air 2. I didn’t notice any slowdowns or bouts of lag when using it – the Mini 4 fairly whizzed along – but others have reported it.
The 4 comes with Touch ID – Apple’s suspicious but useful fingerprint scanner, and also Apple Pay, which is yet to really take off. The operating system is iOS9, which has been well received by almost everyone. iOS9 allows for split-screen multitasking, though that would seem rather pointless on the 7.9inch Mini 4 screen.
Interestingly, Apple has been adding barometers to their devices, and the Mini 4 gets one too. It might know which floor you are on, and basically just make location tracking even more accurate. Are you excited? Certain government agencies are!
Apple promises 10 hours battery surfing web plus wifi; 9 hours surfing on a cellular network.
The App store remains the industry leader. If you’re looking for the widest range of apps, this will be a plus point for you.
Dual channel Wi‑Fi (802.11a/ b/ g/ n/ ac) and a Nano-SIM slot. It supports Apple SIM, currently available only in the US and UK.
A slight update on the Bluetooth side, from 4.0 on older models to Bluetooth 4.2 on the Mini 4.
A beautiful device that is more than the sum of its parts. Many customers will buy instantly and without regret. People interested in value for money may decide that the premium being charged for this device doesn’t make sense, and either go for an equally well-specced Android equivalent or buy an older iPad Mini.
They’re still great tablets, and many hundreds of dollars cheaper than this one.