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iPad Mini: Review & The Competition

Timothius Martin
  • On December 11, 2012
  • https://plus.google.com/113201257517823492964/

Review Overview

Design
9.5
Software
10
Performance
7.5
Camera
8.5
Battery Life
9
8.9

Superb

Is the iPad Mini a game changer? Could have, would have, should have...

Apple have just recently (finally) released their 7-inch goodness: The iPad Mini, a mythical tablet that the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs once boldly deemed would be “DOA – Dead on arrival”. Now that’s it’s finally out in the market, does the controversial iPad Mini live up to the hype? Will it stand against the like of Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0? Let’s dive into it!

First Impression

The very first thing that you’ll notice when you get your hands-on this device is that it’s unbelievably thin and light. Forget about the design and look, anyone with a good taste of post-jurrasic product design would agree that it is one of Johny Ive’s masterpieces. It’s just a classic way of Apple trying to seduce their customers to fall in love with their products just by looking at it – and yes, they pretty much nailed it again with the iPad Mini. Back to its amazing 0.68 lbs weight – Compared with the competition (i.e. from Nexus 7 or Samsung Galaxy Tab 7), The iPad Mini is surprisingly thinner and lighter although it has bigger screen.

With 7’9 inches display, it’s comfortable enough to hold it in one hand although it might look a bit weird for some people to do so, especially if you have a tiny palm. Unlike the textured Google Nexus 7 back that massively helps you get a good hold of the device, the iPad Mini’s sleek anodized aluminum back can sometimes makes it slips out of your hand when held at certain angles. This is basically down to personal choice: Fashion over function or function over fashion?


iPad Mini 1
iPad Mini 1 iPad Mini 1

Display & Performance

The iPad Mini sports the same dual-core A5 Chip with 512MB of RAM and the same 1024×768 screen resolution found on the iPad 2. This is where Apple have been bombarded by critics. It could’ve, would’ve, should’ve been a game changer in the tablet PC arena had it come with the beautiful retina display seen on almost all Apple’s latest devices. I can’t say that I didn’t see this coming as Apple is infamously known to release a great product which lack of few no brainer features just so they can introduce them in the next generation’s version. A strategic marketing decision that may very well hurt their brand considering how other competitors like Samsung, HTC, and Google rarely holding back in giving out the latest and greatest features. So.. No retina display, and yes, most Android tablets out there technically have a better screen, a more powerful processor at much lower price. But, is it really that bad?

I’ve got myself the 16GB iPad Mini WiFi-only version, and after using it for about 2 weeks, I haven’t found any noticeable or significant lag when playing games (i.e. FIFA 2013, The Room, Dead Space), watching/streaming HD videos (Netflix, iMovie), or browsing the Internet. The only thing that I’ve noticed so far, is that apps load considerably slower compared to the 3rd generation iPad which I’ve been using for months now. Apart from that, everything just works pretty smooth. The GPU on the A5 chip does a great job powering the mini display, and at the same time keeping the battery life to its optimum level of 10 hours on normal usage.

Is the iPad Mini a game changer? It could have, would have, should have…


Display – Since it’s packed the same iPad 2’s 1024×768 screen resolution in a smaller screen, it’s technically got a better display then it’s larger brother, although this difference can only be clearly seen under the microscope. See the image comparison below for more details. If you’re used to a retina display screen, then you might find it unpleasant and slightly annoying, especially when it’s used to read books or working on text documents. Is it a deal breaker? – It might be deal breaker if you’ve previously owned a tablet with higher resolution display and intended to use the iPad Mini mainly to read books. Nevertheless, if you’re not really that anal about seeing pixels on your tablet screen, then the iPad Mini’s screen is still pretty decent.

ipadmini-vs-ipad2

iPad Mini (Left) vs iPad 2 (Right) – Pixels density

 

How is it compared to the competition? – Although most premium 7-8 inch tablets out there technically have a better display, the iPad Mini display is not really that far off, and can sometimes produce a more natural colour than that produced by the Google Nexus 7, especially when viewing photos or videos. This is due to the excellent colour calibration done on the iPad Mini’s display.

Camera

The iPad Mini has an amazing 5 megapixels back-camera that shoots 1080p video and an HD front-facing camera for video calling. The quality of the pictures taken with the back-camera is as good, if not better than those from iPhone 4 camera. To be fair, for a tablet PC, such camera is more than enough. It’s just hard, even with the 7’8 inch iPad Mini, to imagine someone wandering around the park with taking pictures/videos with their iPad. It will just make you look like a jerk.

Applications

Apple’s AppStore is second to none in the market and Phil Schiller clearly mentioned this on the keynote, comparing it side-by-side with the Google Nexus 7. There are currently over 275,000 apps on the AppStore that are specifically tailored to nano-precision to be viewed, used, and abused on the iPad. They’re all showing more content in a far better layout than mobile apps to give a richer tablet experience. Android tablets on the other hand, still relying on mobile apps that have been stretched out to fit tablet’s screen size, which means: You’ll notice funny layouts on some apps, poor image quality on almost all apps, and the same experience that you get everyday on your mobile phone. Don’t get me wrong, most of cool iPhone apps are also available on Android, but sadly they haven’t been delivered on the same quality. See video below for some examples.

Bottom Line – Is The iPad Mini Worth It?

The iPad Mini is available from £269 (16GB WiFi) up to £529 (64GB Wifi + Cellular). Now, at £269, the iPad Mini is considerably expensive compared to its competition. The most popular Android tablet in the market, the Google Nexus 7, with the same configuration of 16GB WiFi is priced at just £199. Is the iPad Mini really worth the extra £70?

Well, I know you might hate to hear this, but yes, it depends on what you’re looking for and where you’re coming from. Here’s some scenarios that can help you make your decision:

  • If you’re already using an iPhone or Mac, then I highly suggest you go with the iPad Mini. You’ll feel right at home, plus can take advantage of Apple integrated environment through iCloud. Yes – it’s worth the extra premium price.
  • If you never used an iOS or Mac devices before, and are currently using Android smartphones, then you should first ask yourself: “Am I perfectly happy with my Android phone?” – If the answer is ‘YES’, then please, by all means, get the Google Nexus 7. It’s a fantastic Android tablet!
  • If you don’t care about operating system, and just want to get a small tablet for reading books, watch movies, browse the internet – Save yourself some money and just get the Google Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, or even Kindle Fire HD. They’re much cheaper and in some ways are better than the iPad Mini.
  • If you don’t care about operating system, and just want to get a 7-inch tablet that you can use for creative works, playing games, reading books, video calling, taking pictures, showing off, etc. Then please, stop your research, and save yourself a lot of time by just getting the iPad Mini.

  • Massive Apps selections that are specifically built for the iPad, sleek hardware design, incredibly thin & light, amazing cameras.

  • Expensive, Lack of Retina Display, It’s not available anywhere atm and shipping takes more than 2 weeks!

Review Overview

Design
9.5
Software
10
Performance
7.5
Camera
8.5
Battery Life
9
8.9

Superb

Is the iPad Mini a game changer? Could have, would have, should have...
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