When Apple first decided to go with the smaller, lighter version of their flagship iPad tablet, many analysts and developers were having lots of troublesome questions regarding the new device. Do we still need an iPad Mini? Who is the mini for? Do developers have to redesign their apps to make them optimized for iPad Mini? Fortunately, Apple replied to all the above questions positively and came up with a small sized product that fits perfectly into the Apple ecosystem. In this review we are going to take a look at the hardware, software and other notable stuff worth mentioning and decide whether the iPad Mini still entangles the same old magic found in all other Apple devices.
The first glimpse of the iPad Mini makes you feel that it is just a miniaturized iPad but the more you look closer into the tablet, the differences become more prominent. The side bezels are a lot slimmer and rightfully so allows you to hold the tablet with just one hand. However the weight ensures that your other hand kicks in to support the tablet within minutes. The thinner bezel also adds to the overall form factor of the design. There is the usual mute button and the volume controls on the right. The volume up and down are now separate switches compared to the unified two click system in previous generations. The power button sits on the top. All the buttons feels really solid and long lasting because they are carved out from the same piece of aluminum used for making the iPad Mini.
The iPad Mini also comes with the brand new Lightning dock connector. There are two speakers (yes two) on both sides of the connector that provides decent sounds as expected from a 7 inch. The back of the Mini covers a big apple logo and some useful information in the bottom section. The iPad Mini comes in two colors black and white. Just like any other Apple product the end result is marvelous, looks long lasting and gives you that premium feel from the moment you touch it for the first time. The back of the tablet is not so scratch resistant and that is one problem Apple is still struggling with. Overall the tablet meets our expectations when it comes to design.
The new iPad Mini is powered by Apple’s previous generation dual core A5 Chip. Although one may argue that this processor is not quite as fast as the one used in the new 4th generation iPad but it performs all the tasks super smooth and provides the same experience as you would expect from just another Apple product. The reason being, the screen size is 9.7 inch and stacks 1024-768 pixels. The pixel configuration is exactly the same as iPad 2 which means apps are automatically compatible. I think Apple did a very smart job here as the screen looks a lot better than the older iPad 2 display due to the reduction of the air gap between the display and the top glass coating. Also, the developers don’t have to worry about changing anything to their app configuration.
The iPad Mini also comes with two speakers on both side of the lightning connector that provides a “OK” sound. To be honest none of the iPads produced stunning audio till date and then you have a bunch of accessories to connect them and play your favorite music. The Smart cover now wraps the entire tablet from one side and gone is the old design of a dangling aluminum hinge that tends to catch rust and dust. Another major upgrade to iPad Mini is the all new front facing camera that now enables you to do 720p Facetime HD calling. The iPad Mini comes in 3 storage sizes of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB with options for both Wi-Fi and cellular data.
The iPad mini is powered by iOS 6 (recently updated to 6.0.1). There is no doubt that iOS is the best mobile operating system in the world that fits perfectly into the Apple ecosystem. There are over 275,000 iPad apps that runs perfectly on your Mini. Then there are iPhone 5 apps as well, some of which when expanded to the 9.7 inch screen looks decent. The main reason that separates this tablet from other competitors is the brilliant and intelligent software and lots of options for any type of application that you are looking for. The new Facetime HD camera works like a charm and takes video conferencing to a whole new level. The iPad Mini is the perfect device for reading books, emails, magazine and doing office work.
We tested some games but found out that the A5 processor lacks the graphical power compared to the bigger tablet. Especially when you are playing Infinity Blade 2, Asphalt 7 and other graphic intensive games. When it comes to apps like iWork, iLIfe this tablet performs exactly like the 4th generation device. Although the new 5 MP camera takes gorgeous photos it is still awkward to use your iPad for taking snapshots. You can use the volume up button to take a quick picture and then edit it using the default edition features.
The screen looks beautiful with sharp and crisp texts but if you have been using the iPad 3 then you will find a difference in the screen quality. iOS 6 works perfectly in the iPad Mini and as Apple said their slogan really stands out “Every inch an iPad”.
The iPad Mini should be looked as a separate product and not just a shorter version of Apple’s flagship tablet. The company has done an incredible job to deliver a high quality product and a complete tablet experience within a screen size of 7.9 inch. The A5 processor is still powerful enough to run all the applications smoothly and the new front facing camera might just be a big reason to buy the small tablet. In the 7 inch tablet market the iPad Mini is no doubt the best choice despite the fact that the base model starts a $100 more than Nexus 7.