iPad mini Reviewby Anand Lal Shimpi & Vivek Gowri on November 20, 2012 6:10 PM EST
We’ve always thought the iPad was on the heavier side for prolonged use, particularly for one handed use. This was something more true for the 1st/3rd/4th gen iPads than for the comparatively svelte iPad 2, but at 1.33-1.5lbs, they were all too heavy for truly ultramobile use . The mini changes that in a big way, introducing a chassis that has 60% of the footprint and 47% of the weight of the latest 4th gen iPad in a 25% thinner frame, but even versus the iPad 2, the mini is a featherweight. It’s thinner than both the 4th generation iPod touch and iPhone 5, though not as ridiculous as the 6.1mm frame of the latest iPod touch. At 7.2mm thick and 0.68lbs, the mini has the size and weight part absolutely nailed.
From top to bottom: iPod Touch (5th gen), iPad mini, iPad 2, iPad 4
Part of this is due to the smaller screen, but the bezel around the display has also been whittled down significantly, particularly on the sides, so it’s actually possible to grip in portrait mode with one hand if you don’t have particularly small hands. I wouldn’t necessarily call it comfortable to do, certainly not as natural as on a 7” 16:10 widescreen Android tablet. It’s definitely possible, but about 10mm too wide to do it properly.
The best way that I found, actually, was to hold it like a paperback book - pinky underneath for vertical support, thumb on the side for horizontal support, and the rest of the hand spread across the back. The mini is actually light enough that this is a perfectly natural way to do it no matter which hand you prefer holding the tablet in.
It’s just an absolute joy to carry, the weight and thickness really make a big difference in the ergonomics as well as the portability. The footprint, too, has opened up some more mobile use-cases. You can easily use the iPad mini when walking around, something I found exceedingly difficult to do with the 9.7” iPad or any other 9-10” tablet without looking out of place and feeling like I was going to drop it every time I tried to walk at a normal, semi-rushed urban pace. The mini fits more readily in car gloveboxes and center console bins too, and it generally is a much more handy device.
iPad mini (left) vs Nexus 7 (right)
It’s about a centimeter too wide to fit into the back pockets of my jeans and about 5mm too much for the inside pocket of my jacket, but with baggier clothes it's a non-issue. The N7 does fit into my jeans, though not comfortably (is there any situation in which a pocketed tablet does?). The mini will fit really easily in most purses, and fits in most suit jacket inner pockets, so it’s about as portable as you can get. I already have CES plans that involve stashing a mini in my suit and relying on that and my phone for web publishing from the show floor.
If you’re familiar with 7” Android tablets or, my previous favorite portable tablet form factor, the 7.7” devices from Samsung and Toshiba, this really isn’t news. The smaller tablets, particularly the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Tab 7.7/7.0+, have excelled at bringing a content consumption experience that is as good or better their larger 10.1” counterparts in a cheaper, more portable package. This is new to iOS though. Previously, there was a pretty gaping hole between the pocket-friendly iPod touch/iPhone and the notepad-sized iPad, and I think the mini does a great job of filling that hole. It’s smaller than the iPad by enough to make it worth considering for the size alone, but not enough to take away from the user experience, and that makes it all the more tempting.
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Calista - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link^+1
I bought the original iPad and as many was amazed by the build-quality (stupid sharp edges excluded) and how fluid surfing the web felt considering the hardware. But I also within 15 minutes realised that it was badly memory-starved. Apple is an amazing company taking great pride in the user-experience of its products, but back then they goofed up badly.
I feel the same about the Mini. The CPU may be old but it's still fairly competent, the GPU still among the best, and the screen size may be close to perfect. But only 512 MB of RAM just ain't sufficient for today, even less for tomorrow.
ltcommanderdata - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkBeing slow to increase RAM and VRAM is consistently an issue with Apple. That's the case with Macs as well.
For the iPad 1, it wasn't just that 256MB of RAM was small. Rapid drop-off in app support for the iPad 1, especially in games, is due to the resolution being so high in comparison to the RAM. The GPU was also underpowered compared to the resolution. 3rd gen devices have 480x320 screens and 256MB of RAM while the iPad 1 has 5.1x the pixels with the same 256MB of RAM. The 4th gen iPod Touch is affected by this too having a 960x640 screen with 256MB, but the iPad 1 is even worse with 1.3x the pixels of the 4th gen Touch. Support for the 4th gen iPod Touch in games isn't perfect, but is better than the iPad 1, which indicates that 256MB in itself isn't the limitation, but the drop in support for the iPad 1 is a combination of 256MB RAM with the higher 1024x768 resolution and the iPad 1 no longer being sold after 2011. The iPad 1 received 2 major OS updates (iOS 4.x and 5.x) post launch like other iOS devices so its OS support wasn't prematurely terminated.
I think the situation will be different for the iPad Mini 1. The iPad 2/Mini doubles the RAM to 512MB while keeping the resolution the same, which alleviates the poor resolution-RAM ratio of the iPad 1. 512MB of RAM represents the majority of iOS devices including the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad Mini 1, and 5th gen iPod Touch, of which given historical patterns, the iPhone 4S and 5th gen iPod Touch and perhaps even the iPad Mini 1 itself will sell into 2014. Given historical patterns, OS support for the iPhone 4S, 5th gen iPod Touch, and iPad Mini 1 should continue into 2015. Seeing it's only in 2012 that developers are really beginning to require 512MB of RAM, I don't see them already upping the minimum requirement to 1GB in 2013. Especially not when that eliminates the majority of their potential customer base, when those devices are still being actively sold into 2014, and receiving OS support into 2015. I think 2014 is a more realistic date for when apps will begin to stop supporting 512MB devices.
Personally, seeing the CPU was unchanged and the GPU is only 2x faster despite the 4x increase in resolution making it slower at native resolution than the iPad Mini 1 and iPad 2, I wouldn't be surprised if the iPad 3 loses app support before the iPad Mini and iPad 2.
Of course, just because apps continue to support 512MB devices doesn't mean the usage experience won't be degraded or sub-par. I can see that becoming an issue faster than app support.
Klug4Pres - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkI guess you reviews the Wifi-only version, but I'd like to see some analysis of the cellular connectivity options, especially what LTE bands are supported in the available SKUs.
HighTech4US - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkThe mini lacks a GPS on the base model making it useless for using any map software with turn-by-turn prompts.
The Nexus 7 has a built in GPS chip (and a very effective one and way better pin pointing location than a TomTom) and Google Maps works great on the Nexus 7 (you can download maps for offline use).
The lack of GPS on any tablet is a deal breaker for me.
Adding in the omission GPS with the other short comings along with its sky high price makes the mini just an overpriced iToy. The Nexus 7 is a much much better deal.
Calista - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkI think we have all forgot what gave us forgot what gave us 7" tablets. A "tablet" - i.e a tablet PC running Windows was normally in the 12-14" range. The JooJoo was a 12" tablet as well. Apple brought it down to 10" and sold a ton of those.
At the same time a large number of more or less obscure manufacturers brought out 7" tablets *not* because 7" was considered the best compromise but because those panels could be bought dirt-cheap. But this also gave us this idea that a small tablet was supposed to be 7" while a large tablet was to be 10". I would say this is an anomaly, tablets have for the last ten years been larger than 10".
Maybe the "correct" size for a small tablet is in the 8-8.5" range? I was playing with my friends Motorola Xoom 2 (8.2", 1280x800) and while a bit heavier than my 7" tablet it seemed to hit the perfect size. Not so big or heavy as to be cumbersome, while still packing almost 40" more screen area.
Too much focus is being put on the device being pocket-able, how many really bring a tablet in their coat or pants? Just the idea of asking for a device to be pocket-able while still lacking a 3G/4G connection is just plain silly. Instead focus should be put on how it feels in hand but also how much space it occupies on a table. The 10" iPad was always too big to fit comfortable on my table while still having space for a cup of tea, a notebook, a plain book or the remotes for the TV and receiver.
Quad5Ny - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkThere is a Pop-over interactive banner ad running that opens when you try to hit the x, please take a look. Thanks.
vicbdn - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link"but in terms of repsonsiveness" In the conclusion.
BSMonitor - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkIncredibly too much... By the 4th generation of these, 32GB should be standard and 64GB a $100 upgrade...
The BOM on 32GB NAND in this fashion is what? $15? Even if it's $20($10 x 2 16GB), they are getting a 1000% profit margin on that upgrade from 16 to 32 GB??
But they know we all have huge iTunes libraries we'd want on it...
Unfortunately there will never be a do-it-yourself tablet similar to the PC market. I stopped paying Dell and Gateway and HP a LONG time ago for their ridiculous profit methods.
TouchPadKing - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkNot sure if this has already been rehashed, but the pixel size is what kills the ipad mini for me. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, and I can SEE the pixels and it drives me nuts. The ipad mini has an even bigger screen with about the same number of pixels... Also, samsung fits in pocket, mini doesn't. I like the ipad mini's form factor, but again if it won't fit in my pocket it'll probably never leave the house...
Rising - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkI bought Nexus 7 when it was released. This is what i can tell you after few months of usage..
"Its a good hardware in a crappy software". Iwould say the higher price premium on ipad mini is justified for software.
Most of the apps are zoomed over apps for Nexus 7. I hate that part of it. For example i use this app called apex launcher in my samsung s 3 and when i try using it on Nexus 7 all the icons are so small that they are hardly recognizable.
I donot understand why Google cannot optimize the apps to their own Nexus tablets.
Anand do you know whats stopping them from doing this?