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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Magwitch - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkAm I the only person who thinks Anand is just another Apple shill who just falls over himself supporting any and every Apple product out there? Please. What ever happened to the objectivity that once was the hallmark of Anandtech? I've watched the same thing happen to Tom's Hardware over the years. I guess it must be the koolaid they drink.
uhuznaa - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkWell, maybe this *is* objective and what you want to read is something subjective that starts and ends with "everything Apple is crap"?
This review points out all the weak points of the device, comes with a lot of objective numbers and benchmarks -- what do you miss exactly?
andrewaggb - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkI really don't think it's necessary to make personal insults against the staff. Yes anand clearly likes apple. But look around. So does half the continent.
edsib1 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkYou state that the mini display is great but, in your own tests...
Pixel density - 5th of 7
brightness -13th of 17
contrast - 17th of 17
calibration - 6th of 7
grayscrale - 3rd of 7
saturation - 4th of 7
GMB - 6th of 7
I dont understand your conclusion. Doesnt add up to a great display to me.
admiralpumpkin - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkThe answer is two-fold.
FIrst, the tests were against other rather good screens. So coming in "average" is actually quite good. Here's the key statement, near the end of the review, "It pains me to say it, but compared to most similarly priced notebooks, the iPad mini's display is amazing."
Second, often times the margin of difference must not have seemed significant to Anand. For example, if two screens are 1% apart on a particular metric (pulling a number from nowhere) then which came in 1st vs 2nd is a relatively meaningless.
jonjonjonj - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linki personally dont get it. i have an ipod touch, iphone and ipad and pretty much never use the ipod or ipad. the ipad is only good for checking an email quickly or looking at a youtube video. anything beyond that and its frustrating to use. personally i would rather have a laptop/ultrabook. not sure i understand making the mini other than just to have a cheaper "i" product to complete with kindles and androids. i didnt think apple was about going cheap.
Jumangi - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkI can't see how any tech enthusiast site could look at the Mini and be impressed at the overall product. A 1 1/2 year old SoC. A screen resolution that goes back even farther and skimping out at 512MB or RAM. Any other manufacturer tried to pull that off would get slammed on all points but because the Mini has a nice case well all is good I guess...
drx11 - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
How does this thing get positive reviews?....Oh wait its Apple. by Jumangi on Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I can't see how any tech enthusiast site could look at the Mini and be impressed at the overall product. A 1 1/2 year old SoC.
You can not see it, because it is in the software... the SoC the apps, etc... you miss the forest for the trees. You miss the computer (system or tablet) for the specifications of the various parts...
jb14 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - linkHi Anand thanks for the article.
I was wondering if you had any plans to review the new B&N Nook HD 7" tablet? It would be interesting to read your findings on it's higher resolution screen. Also any plans for a tablet round up pre-xmas, as they are a nice size/price for potential presents? It seems the choice comes down to Nexus 7 vs N&B Nook/Kindle fire HD or the mini Ipad for iOS.
Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link"I don’t consider the iPad mini a competitor to the Nexus 7"
What the heck? I jsut do not understand the continuous worshipping of this company's garbage products. It is almost like people dont even actually use these things. In reality, ther eis no difference between this and something like a nexus 7. They're both going to be extremely limited, extremely frustrating devices. iPoopa are anything but buttery smooth flawlessly running devices these biased reviewers make them out to be. I can make my iPoop crash just by opening webpages. Every time I'm scrolling thru the app store it lage like hell. The thing is really unbearably slow in jsut about everything. I only have about 100 apps installed. (58 of which want to update right now, but hell if I'm gonna bother.) I hate this thing. I only use it as a remote control nowadays. Even that crashes. It's really terrible. I refuse to believe that it is something unique to my device. What's more liekly to me is that the people who never have any problems with these things are the people who never actually use them.