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Apple iPad mini - Review


Apple iPad mini - Review

The Apple iPad mini is one of the newest tablets from Apple and the first from the company to feature a smaller 7.9 inch display, compared to the 9.7 inch display we have grown accustomed to. The device features up to 64GB of internal storage, optional 4G LTE connectivity, a 5 megapixel camera capable of 1080p HD video capture, a secondary camera for FaceTime video calls and is powered by a dual-core Apple A5 processor.

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Pros
Cons
  • thin and light design
  • premium build
  • high quality display with very good viewing angles
  • Too wide for smaller hands
  • Pricey in the 7 inch tablet category
  • Poor resolution

Introduction

The Apple iPad mini is one of the company's newest products and was announced alongside the Apple iPad 4 on October 23. The device falls in between the iPod Touch and the iPad in terms of price and size and adds an excellent option in Apple's device lineup.

Apple's plans seems to have been to offer a smaller alternative to the iPad, but the iPad mini doesn't too much look like a shrunken down iPad. In fact it shares design characteristics with the Apple iPhone 5 and the newest iPod Touch instead. Its soft curves and size seem to have been built perfectly for single handed use.

The iPad mini was built for portability and sets out to redefine that category as it takes on heavy competition from the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 7. They set out to offer a thinner and lighter tablet while offering a larger display than their competitors and they managed to succeed.

But is the iPad mini right for you? Or should you consider purchasing the regular iPad? Join us in our review as we set to find out.



Hardware

The first aspect of any review starts with the hardware and the iPad mini is definitely impressive in that avenue. Apple has stepped away from the family design of the regular iPad and adopted some ideas from the colors on the iPhone 5 and the design of the iPod Touch.


The iPad mini comes in black and white. The white has a silver back-plate while the black variant has a slate black-plate. It doesn't matter which color you choose, you will immediately get a sense of the premium feel of the mini. We will be reviewing the black variant, so lets start off with the unboxing.







Anyone who has previously used the regular iPad will immediately feel the edges on the iPad mini have been rounded and softened, allowing you to easily handle the iPad with one hand. Anyone who has handled the larger iPad for long periods of time will be able to relate to the somewhat sharp edges digging into your palms. The iPad mini weighs only 308 grams, which is less than half the weight of the fourth generation iPad. This could also be a contributing factor to it being so easy to handle.

Lightning Cable for charging and syncing iPad miniPower Adapter

With the iPad mini Apple chose to add a 7.9 inch display which takes up most of the front of the device with a very small bezel compared to its competitors. This has allowed Apple to give the iPad mini a reasonably larger display than its competitors while retaining its small size. The larger size does have one drawback and that comes with single handed use. While the device is OK for someone with larger hands like myself, my wife pointed out that it is not easy to hold it securely when you hand smaller hands.

iPhone 4 vs. iPad mini vs. iPad 2

However our disappointment wasn't with the size of the display but with its resolution, which remains at an unimpressive 768 x 1024 which is the same as the Apple iPad 2. Apple's choice to omit a Retina display left us disappointed and feel that Apple should have included a Retina display on the iPad mini, because of its premium price. But the display is of very high quality and offered great viewing angles and feel users can always wait for the next generations if they are insistent on having a Retina display.



Below the display is the home button which will probably be the most used in operating your tablet.



Above the display is the 1.3 megapixel HD camera which can be used for FaceTime video calls over Wi-Fi and captures video at 720p HD.



On top of the device is the power switch which can be used to lock the device, the 3.5 mm universal audio connector and the microphone in the center. This microphone is quite powerful as it is meant to pick up commands to Siri.



Below the device you will find the lightning port to syncing and charging your device with stereo speakers on either side.



On the right you will find the volume rocker and the screen orientation lock which doubles as a mute button - You can assign either command to the button.



On the back of the device is the 5 megapixel camera which is capable of 1080p full HD video capture and the shiny Apple logo in the midst of it slate back cover.



Now that we have taken a look at the hardware, lets switch the device on and take a look at the changes in iOS.

iPad mini vs. iPad 2



Software

The iPad mini runs . This means that you wont have the YouTube client and familiar Google Maps which you may be familiar with from older versions of the software. Google has not released a version of YouTube or Google Maps for the iPad mini, so keep in mind that you will have to settle for Apple maps and find a suitable third party YouTube client.


The first boot process will take you through some familiar steps, like connecting to your Wi-Fi network, signing into your Apple ID and restoring a backup if you have one. Once you have completed this, you will be presented with your homescreen which has the same layout as the iPad homescreen   Camera The iPad mini has a 5 megapixel camera with an f/2.4 lens, which is an improvement over the camera on the iPad 2. Unfortunately it doesn't allow HD photos, nor does it have the Panorama feature from the iPhone 5.

[CAMERA PHOTO SAMPLES COMING SOON]

The camera is capable of capturing 1080p full HD video like the latest Apple devices, while the video quality may not be as good as the iPhone 5 it produces good quality video as long as the lighting is good.

[VIDEO SAMPLE COMING SOON]

Additionally it has a front facing 1.2 megapixel HD camera will allow you to record video at 720p HD. You can take FaceTime calls with your device over any Wi-Fi connection, which is quite useful.


Performance and Battery Life

The iPad mini has a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor with 512MB of RAM, which is the same as the iPad 2. Even though there may be a difference in performance compared to the newest fourth generation iPad, we doubt a regular user would notice much during day to day use.

Apple boasts that the iPad mini is capable of the same 10 hours of battery life of the regular iPad. However the mini manages to take it a step further and managed over 12 hours with Wi-Fi enabled on its default settings. We have always been impressed by the battery life on Apple products and are happy to see that the iPad mini delivers as promised.


Conclusion

The Apple iPad mini has to be the best tablet to be released by Apple in terms of design. Its Exceptionally thin, extremely light, maintains Apple's superior design and build while managing to provide remarkable battery life. Its rich selection of tablet friendly apps give it a slight edge over Android, but we feel its biggest selling point is definitely its design. Managing to provide a larger display while keeping the device smaller and lighter than its competitors is a feat only achieved by Apple's engineers.

However we feel Apple missed the mark by omitting the Retina Display which would have made the iPad mini the best of its class even with its premium base price of $329. Tablet buyers may prefer to choose the $199 Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire over Apple's offering with little to persuade them to spend the extra money on Apple's product.

Should you buy an iPad mini? Yes, but not right now. Even though it's the best tablet from Apple to date it has some way to grow before it can win us over completely.
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