The iPad Mini is somewhat of a middle ground between a full fledged tablet and a budget tablet. When Apple first announced the tablet, I wasn’t really excited as it seemed like Apple was desperately trying to make an impact on the budget tablet segment which was dominated by the likes of the Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire at the time. However after close inspection and research, I decided to actually get the device with my hard earned money. I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed, but I feared it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. But au contraire, I was bound for a surprise.
So here’s where I felt the device excelled and failed. Bear in mind, this is no comparison of the tablet with any other device, but merely what I saw and felt about the tablet.
- Beautiful design.
- Easy for one handed use.
- Plethora of apps specifically made for the iPad.
- Virtually lag free.
- Gestures work seamlessly.
- Decent rear and front cameras.
- Finger print magnet.
- Display resolution.
- UI hasn’t changed much since the days of the first iPad.
- Price could have been cheaper.
- Relatively older chipset used (Apple A5).
So as you can see above, the pros far outweigh the cons of the iPad Mini. Sure it’s not exactly a budget tablet given the kind of work that has gone into it. To be perfectly honest, this is as good a tablet as anybody could ask for. Sure it doesn’t offer the graphics and crispness of the third or fourth gen iPad, but the iPad Mini doesn’t disappoint one bit. The tablet is very pleasing to hold in the hand and it’s an instant attention grabber. It weighs a meager 0.68 lbs (308 grams) so it’s not all that heavy to hold. To put in comparison, the Nexus 7 weighs 0.75 lbs (340 grams). And at 7.2mm, it’s one of the thinnest tablets out there. I got myself the black one, but I guess the white one would look even better. My main concern about the device is that it would scratch and “scuff” like how the iPhone 5 apparently does, since the two basically use the same design. This is why I decided to shield it in a case/cover almost immediately. That apart, it’s just pleasing to see the amount of work that has gone into the design of the tablet. Its durability however will be known in due time.
What’s In the Box?
Well, there’s nothing much in the box but the iPad, a charging adapter along with a USB to Lightning cable. Besides that, we get the standard array of documentation and a couple of Apple stickers which we see packaged with most Apple products. I would have liked to see earphones packaged with the box though, but Apple clearly doesn’t operate that way. Earphones are only limited to iPhones and iPod Touch devices.
The iPad Mini has the same dual core chip used on the second gen iPad – the Apple A5. This incidentally is the same chip used on the iPhone 4S as well, which doesn’t disappoint when it comes to performance. The RAM on board is only 512MB, this is an area where Android excels in my opinion, but I won’t complain as long as I don’t get a RAM full error (none so far). To test out the GPU on board, I decided to download Dead Trigger by Madfinger Games and Infinity Blade by Epic Games. Maybe it was my urge to kill zombies or perhaps the unwillingness to spend big on a game, but these were the first games I wanted to download on the iPad Mini. And believe me, it worked without a stutter as it should be. However, there was one instance (just one), where Dead Trigger crashed whilst in the middle of a mission. This was annoying, but I doubt it had anything to do with the iPad. I would like to reiterate that this could be the best iPad made by Apple if only it had the latest hardware inside. So basically if there is an iPad with this design and the internals from the 4th gen iPad, it would be the perfect iPad. I would go as far as saying that there’s absolutely no competition for the iPad as of now.
I’m a little iffy on this one but I’ve got nothing to complain about. Users were reporting a massive fall in battery life after the iOS 6.1 update. But I haven’t noticed any major changes in battery life since my iPad Mini was (manually) updated to iOS 6.1. However, Apple is expected to launch an iOS 6.1.2 update shortly, hot on the heels of the iOS 6.1.1 (iPhone 4S only) update. It’s pretty stable and the standby time is perfect too. So all in all, the iPad Mini has no problems whatsoever with regards to battery. But I guess it depends on the usage, as I have only tried playing games for an hour or two hours along with sending a few mails and watching a few YouTube videos. After all this, I saw a drop of about 15-16 percent. I guess most of this is because it doesn’t make use of a power hungry display. Another reason could be the fact that I have a Wi-Fi only version with me and not the LTE variant.
As I said earlier, the design is very reminiscent of the iPhone 5. So this raises a huge question about durability if all that we’ve heard about the iPhone 5’s scuffing and chipping is indeed true. It has the same diamond cut chamfered edges as well as the aluminum back covering. My biggest fear is if it doesn’t start chipping like a few iPhones I’ve seen. I’m hoping the case/sleeve will protect it from the worst. But one thing I’d like to point out specifically is that without a case, you’d be pretty much on your own if you drop it. Getting an Apple Smart Cover wouldn’t really be the wisest thing to do as it only protects the tablet from frontal damage while the back is completely open. Apple doesn’t have a Smart Case for the iPad Mini sadly, as it is limited only to full sized iPads as of now. This would have been a much better option were you to protect your device from damage of any sort.
Other Bells and Whistles:
iPads usually don’t come with a lots of bells and whistles, besides the name itself. However, there’s more to iPads than just the fancy exterior and the status symbol. iOS on iPad comes with plenty of gestures which remind people a lot about how things work on Macs. For example, swiping in with five fingers will close an existing app. Swiping to the left or right with four fingers will help users switch between applications, and it all works like a charm. One more feature which you will immediately notice about the iPad Mini is that you can be holding it on the edge of the display and still swipe through the apps and scroll through pages etc. This feature has been enabled on the tablet because there’s very little bezel space to hold the device on. So even if your finger is firmly placed on the edge of the display, it won’t actually count as a touch unless you want it to be. This in my opinion is one of the key features of the iPad Mini.
Let’s face it, I’m a die-hard Android fan, and I don’t shy away from accepting that. The sheer versatility and openness of the platform makes it an instant choice in my book. But when it comes to tablets, one really can’t look away from Apple’s iPad lineup. Even more so with the iPad Mini because it’s easy to hold and not cumbersome as Apple has cut down on a lot of bezel space compared to the full sized iPads. This is something we hope to see with future generations of the full sized iPads, as it makes the tablet easier to hold and one handed operation will be that much comfortable.
So should you get it? Absolutely. Even if you already have a tablet, this one will certainly find its own place in your desk. But if you recently bought yourself a third or fourth generation iPad, you might as well skip on this one as you’ll be bound for disappointment with the lack of a better screen and chipset/GPU (which is barely noticeable). So if this is your first tablet and/or if you own a Nexus tablet, you shouldn’t hesitate one bit to get the iPad Mini.