Posted by: Brett
The iPad mini is finally here. Although it’s merely an iPad 2 with a smaller display, it’s still a great package. The iPad has been a huge hit since it’s launch in 2010. Did Apple get it right with the iPad mini or do they still have some things to work on? Keep reading past the break to find out.
Overall, the iPad mini’s hardware is phenomenal as one would come to expect from Apple. It follows the same design language as the fifth-generation iPod touch and iPhone 5 with the soft-touch aluminum on the back and the diamond chamfered edges. It also has the same drilled-speaker holes as seen on the two aforementioned devices, with these being dual-stereo speakers. The iPad mini feels great and is extremely lightweight. Just as with the iPhone 5, you expect it to feel heavier, but when you pick it up, it’s quite surprising how light it is. It weights 308 grams and is a mere 7.2mm thin which is thinner than the iPhone 5 and slightly thicker than the iPod touch 5. The design of the mini is very reminiscent of the iPod touch 5, in that it’s more square rather than tapered as the current generation full size iPad is. It’s without a doubt the best, most precise hardware designs of any tablet on the market, aside from the regular iPad of course.
The iPad mini is quite easy to hold with one hand, but it’s not something that’s meant to be used with one hand. Apple incorporated a nifty software feature which detecs whether your thumb is resting on the screen or being used. If it determines it’s resting on the screen, it will disable the touch points so that the thumb doesn’t select anything or cause any unintended touches, making one-handed use slightly more manageable.
On the camera side of things, the iPad mini boasts a 5-megapixel iSight rear camera and a front-facing FaceTime HD camera. The performance of both are is comparable to that of the iPad 3/4. The iPad mini isn’t something you’ll want to get to replace a point-and-shot, but will take decent pictures in a pinch.
The internals of the iPad mini are nothing we haven’t seen before and that’s because they’re the exact same as the iPad 2. It’s powered by the same dual-core A5 processor as the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, although the chip is a newer 32nm variant as seen in some newer iPad 2 models. The 32nm A5 chip doesn’t offer improved performance, however it is said to draw less power and offer better battery life. As with the iPad 2, the mini also carries 512MB of RAM, rather than the 1GB in the iPhone 5 and iPad 4. Performance, CPU- and graphics-wise, was found to be almost identical to the iPad 2. They scored virtually identical scores in Geekbench.
The display on the iPad mini has the exact same resolution as the iPad 2 at 1024 by 768 and because it measures in at a smaller 7.9 inches, it is actually sharper than the iPad 2. It has a decent 163 ppi, but next to the Nexus 7 and devices like the Kindle Fire, it doesn’t sound too great. The display, of course, isn’t as good as the iPad 4 or iPhone 5 as both are Retina displays, but it still looks pretty good, despite being able to see individual pixels. If you’ve used a device with a Retina display for any longer than about 5 minutes, you’ll definitely notice that the iPad mini’s display is inferior, however, that shouldn’t deter you away from it.
The iPad mini comes running iOS 6 out of the box and you’ll find that it includes Siri unlike the iPad 2 which has the exact same internals. In addition, you’ll notice that everything is just like you’ll find on a regular iPad but smaller. All iPad-optimized apps will scale perfectly to the iPad mini and all built-in apps do so out of the box. Typing in portrait is slightly more manageable on the mini than the regular iPad.
The mini comes in two colors, black and white, as well as 3 storage capacities, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. The starting price for the base model, a 16GB WiFi variant, is $329. Cellular models for use with AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint will be available starting in mid-November.
All in all, the iPad mini is a great tablet and for many, this may be a no-brainer. For others, it may be tough to justify the $329 price tag. I think if you’re in the market for a smaller tablet, this is definitely a great choice if you have the money to spend. It offers great hardware and a myriad of high-quality tablet apps. On the other hand, I feel like this is not a great first-generation model and that others may want to hold off till the second-generation iPad mini which will presumably offer better specs. Even then, this is one of the best all around sub 10-inch tablets on the market.