Are you excited about the iPad mini? You definitely should be! There’s a lot to love about this little tablet, but there’s also a few things that could have been better. Some tech fans, even long time Apple fans even, have commented that the iPad mini could have really hit it out of the park. Instead, it felt like Apple traded on their brand… and the rabid fanworship they’ve gotten when it comes to all of their previous products.
Still, we wanted to cover the iPad Mini while it’s still hot, so on with the review. You be the judge!
The first thing that you have to realize is that the iPad Mini is 7.9 inches, and fits nicely in the hand. This is a smaller iPad, but it has its own merits. It’s not just going to be the 10 incher scrunched down. You actually get a nice viewing experience.
Right from the start, the iPad mini looks good. Early adopters noted that it feels more like the iPod touch than a scaled down iPad, which can be a good thing when you think about it.
The decrease in weight definitely matters. The Wi-Fi only iPad mini is 308 grams — literally 0.68 pounds. That’s roughly half the weight of the newest iPad. It’s also very thin, at about 7.2mm and measuring 200 x 135mm. You’re getting a 1024×768 resolution, which means that everything is easy to read.
The layout of the navigation is solid. You have the volume and orientation lock switches on the upper part of the right side. There’s also up and down buttons, which is different than the controls on the iPad.
If you’re worried about sound after seeing those two rows of holes to let the device’s sound out, don’t worry — you have plenty of good sound here. It’s not like you’re going to be able to replicate your local home theater system, but there’s nothing wrong with getting something that you can really use on the go. That’s the entire point of the iPad mini, isn’t it?
Keep in mind that when it comes to the display on the Mini, you’re not getting Apple’s signature retina display. There is a nice pixel density here of 163ppi, but it might not be enough to satisfy you if you were hoping for super eye-catching color. Text isn’t as sharp either, but it’s not like everything is going to be a complete blur.
Let’s move on to performance and a little bit about that all important statistic, battery life. Under the hood, you’re getting a dual-core 1Ghz CPU with 512MB of RAM, which is what you got in the iPad 2 as well.
Battery life can be a toss-up — generally around 12-13 hours under normal operating conditions. Obviously, this would mean that you’re turning on Wi-Fi while using the device. If you can live without battery draining Wi-Fi, then you’re going to have a longer standby than you would normally have. We like to quote real world battery life figures from actual use, which usually means Wi-Fi and camera usage.
Speaking of camera usage, the iPad mini has a modest set of cameras. You’re going to get a 5 megapixel camera in the back with a nice f/2.4 lens. There’s a 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera on the front, which lends itself well to video conferencing needs. Skype and FaceTime, anyone?
You’re not getting an 8MP camera like with the iPhone 5, but this shouldn’t really take you by surprise by now. This isn’t the iPhone. It’s not the big iPad. It’s something that was designed for the form factor to wow you. There might be some let downs here, but that’s just part of the process, really. No device is going to be everything to everyone.
There have been some obvious comparisons made between the mini and the Nexus 7, but the two devices aren’t in the same league. The Nexus was designed to be a budget device. As you might have guessed, Apple really doesn’t do budget. They handle other things, like giving you some high quality features to drool over. Even though you didn’t get a Retina display, there are little details that definitely show that Apple is thinking about people’s needs in a much more expansive way.
Unfortunately, the greater tech population at large has Apple on a pedestal, which means that any launch is going to leave more than a few people disappointed. That’s the name of the game. If you can handle a smaller form factor along with a little less display, you’re going to have a winning device.
Still, if you need more screen real estate, then the new iPad will probably be more or less your speed. We hope this review helps — enjoy!