There’s no tablet in this size range that’s as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who’s been living with (and loving) Google’s Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don’t say that lightly.
I was really surprised with how much I used the iPad mini in my daily routine — more than the 10-inch iPad. There are a couple of things you have to remember with the iPad mini. First, it isn’t just a smaller iPad, but rather it feels like its own device.
The second thing is that what seems like a little bit of extra screen real estate on the iPad mini makes a huge difference. Everything just works on the mini — all of your old apps, iCloud, everything. It works.
If the Mini had a retina display, I’d switch from the iPad 3 in a heartbeat. As it stands, I’m going to switch anyway. Going non-retina is a particularly bitter pill for me, but I like the iPad Mini’s size and weight so much that I’m going to swallow it.
This isn’t just an Apple tablet made to a budget. This isn’t just a shrunken-down iPad. This is, in many ways, Apple’s best tablet yet, an incredibly thin, remarkably light, obviously well-constructed device that offers phenomenal battery life. No, the performance doesn’t match Apple’s latest and yes, that display is a little lacking in resolution, but nothing else here will leave you wanting. At $329, this has a lot to offer over even Apple’s more expensive tablets.
If your budget’s got more wiggle room, the iPad Mini is the best compact-sized tablet on the market. Apple didn’t build yet another bargain-basement special; it squeezed all of the big iPad’s industrial-design panache, software polish and third-party apps, and most of its technology, into a smaller thinner, lighter, lower-priced model. The result may be a product in a category of one — but I have a hunch it’s going to be an awfully popular category.
Apple has done a good job of making the case that the iPad mini is not just another 7-inch tablet — in fact, it’s not a 7-inch tablet at all. It’s a 7.9-inch tablet — a subtle, but important difference. As a result, it can utilize every iOS app already in existence. And it can access the entire iTunes ecosystem. And it will be sold in Apple Stores.
Apple isn’t looking at this as $329 versus $199. They’re looking at this as an impossibly small iPad 2 sold at the most affordable price for an iPad yet.
In the end, it’s about an overall package, an experience which Apple is offering. Not the fastest tablet, nor the cheapest, nor the one that prioritizes the most pixel-dense display, but the one with the lion’s share of tablet applications, the integration with the iOS/iTunes ecosystem, the familiarity of usability and, yes, the brand cachet. That’s a compelling metric by which to judge a new product, and it’s a set of abilities that single the iPad mini out in the marketplace. If the iPad with Retina display is the flagship of Apple’s tablet range, then the iPad mini is the everyman model, and it’s one that will deservedly sell very well.
I’m not sure who the iPad Mini is for. The budget-minded, perhaps, or kids, or those who want a second iPad. Businesses that want a more portable onsite iPad. People who want to mount an iPad in their vehicles. Actually, I guess I know exactly who the iPad Mini is for. With iOS having such reach, this is another use case, another form. It’s as simple as that. The iPad Mini probably isn’t for everyone, and that’s exactly the point. Like the iPod and Nano, it’s another style for another crowd. I will say this: when you see it, you’ll desire it. Just remind yourself you may not need it.
Apple is going to sell a lot of these – quite possibly more than the “large” iPad – in this quarter. The only way Apple could improve on this product would be (as some people are already agitating) to give it a retina screen and somehow make it lighter. That might happen at some point. You can wait if you like; other people, in the meantime, will be buying this one.
After a few days I started to prefer the mini to my larger iPad despite its lack of a Retina screen. It even made my larger iPad look old fashioned. Awkwardly large. The mini is fast, impressively light — weighing in at just over 10 ounces — and easy to keep with me at all times. The only thing I don’t enjoy as much with the mini is watching videos. It seems the crystal-clear Retina display in the newer (and larger) iPads has spoiled me.
Even though the mini is thinner and lighter than the leading 7-inch tablets, its larger screen provides about 35 percent more room for viewing content like books and Web pages. I found it easy to see and read material on the screen and to tap and swipe. My only complaint was that the keyboard, in portrait mode, felt a bit cramped, though it was fine in landscape mode. (I found that, unlike with the big iPad, it was more common for me to hold the Mini in portrait mode.)
[Compared to its 7-inch competition] the iPad Mini is a far classier, more attractive, thinner machine. It has two cameras instead of one. Its fit and finish are far more refined. And above all, it offers that colossal app catalog, which Android tablet owners can only dream about.
Over all, the Mini gives you all the iPad goodness in a more manageable size, and it’s awesome. You could argue that the iPad Mini is what the iPad always wanted to be.
I can tell you the iPad mini is the best small tablet you can buy. The question you’ll have to answer for yourself is whether it’s [$130] better.