I admit, I was skeptical at first. After publicly denouncing the smaller 7-inch tablets, Apple itself came out with the iPad Mini with the (pretty shoddy, I might add) excuse that it wasn’t a 7-inch but rather a 7.9-inch tablet. The height of hypocracy ? Or the magic or marketing ?
So Apple had come out with a smaller tablet ? Naturally, my first response was “Why?”. After all, the iPad had shown itself not only as a powerful tablet but as an all-in-one device that people world over loved. And there was practically no real competition.The Google Nexus, the Blackberry Playbook, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and countless others had tried and failed to deliver the amazing experience of the iPad. So what was the need for an iPad Mini? Unlike the iPad, it did not fill the enormous gap between smartphone and laptop. (In any case, I’m sure that gap was feeling a bit overcrowded now.)
Sure, I occasionally thought the iPad was a little big to hold comfortably while reading or browsing the web, but I wouldn’t have thought of trading it for a smaller one. That is, until I used the iPad Mini.
The iPad Mini is one of those devices that you simply have to experience to know why Apple made it. After having spent a considerable amount of time with the iPad Mini, I feel it is now safe for me to say that I wouldn’t trade it for the full sized iPad. Atleast, not yet.
It all comes down to this. The design is one of the major difference between the iPad mini and the full sized iPad, and I have to say: there’s a difference. The iPad Mini is less than half the weight of the full-sized iPad and has a design similar to the iPhone 5 with diamond-cut precision and metallic chamfers surrounding the device (these are especially prominent on the white version). Unlike it’s elder brother, it feels extremely comfortable to hold in one hand even for prolonged periods of time. For reading, browsing, watching videos, playing games, emailing, etc, it truly is the perfect sized device.
In order to make the iPad Mini more mini-like, Apple removed the thick bezel from the sides of the device, resulting in a beautiful overall design. This can create a slight problem in holding the device but Apple resolved that with an added feature in the preinstalled iOS 6, which detects when your finger is resting on the screen and doesn’t consider it as a touch. Even though it works very well 99% of the time, I prefer to hold it by the thin side bezels because i prefer to see the whole screen rather than have my fingers obscuring my view. (Or perhaps I’m just not used to it yet)
Because the top and bottom borders are larger, it is quite easy to hold in landscape too.
The back of the iPad Mini is silver-colored on the white iPad and slate-colored on the Black one. Both look extremely good although the slate back exhibits smudges and fingerprints more prominently.
One detail that particularly impressed me about the iPad Mini was how every single detail of the device was color matched. The Apple logo, the round ring around the rear-facing camera, the volume buttons, the power button, the rotation lock/ mute switch and even the inside of the lightning connector port, everything is perfectly color coordinated.
Given the success of this design on the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, it’s quite likely that the next model of the full-sized iPad will too be fashioned similarly (chamfers, color-coordination, etc), though presumably not the smaller side bezels.
And once again, I cannot stress enough how good it feels to hold because of it’s light weight and comfortable form factor.
When it comes to design and feel, the iPad Mini has hit the nail on the head.
iOS and Apps
The iPad Mini comes preloaded with iOS 6 and I have to say, there’s not much of a difference.
It’s pretty much the standard iOS which we have come to know and love. All the standard apps are too installed and the best part about is that all 275,000 apps work flawlessly and without any scaling, stretching or other modification. iPad Mini is also Siri-enabled.
|iPad Mini is Siri-Enabled|
The iPad Feel
The form factor feels great to use anywhere unlike the full-sized iPad which has it’s limits where convenience is concerned. But aside from that, I won’t lie: it feels exactly when an iPad in terms of the interface. And that’s because it is an iPad. It runs the same apps, it has the same resolution screen and it even has the same physical buttons. Its just smaller.
The iPad Mini also features a lightning connector which is smaller, thinner and best of all, reversible.
How the Smaller Screen affects Usage.
As I mentioned earlier, the iPad Mini feels pretty much the same as the full sized iPad in terms of usage and interface. So far, I haven’t had any problems because of the smaller-sized screen, but for the thicker-fingers out there, some things which are a little small even in the full-sized iPad may be a little more problematic on this mini screen. (pun intended) The Safari bookmarks bar is the only such thing I have come across so far, but I’m sure many more lie waiting.
|Although very rarely, some things which are a little small even in the full sized iPad screen may be a little problematic on this mini screen (pun intended) such as the safari bookmarks bar.|
So this is quite a common question about how the size of the iPad mini affects typing capabilities and comfort. And it’s rather surprising. I actually find typing easier on this a lot of the time. Because the screen is less wide, it’s easier to type on it portrait than it was on the full sized iPad.
Typing on landscape is, again, great if you’re holding it in your hands. But if you’re used to setting the iPad down on a desk and typing, it’s not as easy as it was. Not that it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient but just that its not as easy as it was on the full sized iPad’s keyboard. (I’m typing this article on the iPad Mini and it’s quite comfortable to use)
The iPad Mini features a 7.9-inch display which separates it from other tablets in the 7-inch tablet market. Although it may not seem like much the extra inch (approximately) means a fairly large increase in screen real estate in comparison to other 7-inch tablets. Apple boasts of a 35% larger screen.
|Apple boasts of a 35% larger screen than on a regular 7-inch tablet.|
On the one hand, there’s the perfect size and form factor. But on the other hand, the iPad Mini has an outdated A5 processor and no retina display. And to make matters worse, the full-sized iPad sits right next to it, beaming with an A6X processor and an evil retina grin. So how does the iPad Mini perform with the older internals ?
So far, I haven’t been too disappointed with the older A5 processor. Admittedly, the fourth-generation iPad with the A6X processor does run webpages faster and load apps quicker than the Mini does but the iPad Mini isn’t lagging far behind. One reason for this is that although the A5 processor is slower than the A6X processor, the iPad Mini doesn’t have to push out as many pixels as the full-sized iPad due to it’s lack of Retina Display.
At present, the only part about the processor that I’m unhappy about is that it will probably get blacklisted from the latest iOS quicker than the others.
The cameras on the iPad Mini are the same as on the 3rd and 4th generation iPads and thankfully, a significant improvement on the cameras present on the iPad 2.
|The front facing FaceTime camera is capable of 1.3 megapixel stills and 720p video|
The rear-facing camera is capable of shooting 5 megapixel stills and full HD 1080p video while the front facing FaceTime camera is capable of 1.3 megapixel stills and 720p video.
The camera quality is reasonably good although it’s lacking in low light.
|The rear facing camera is capable of shooting 5 megapixel stills and full HD 1080p video|
The Overall Experience
The iPad Mini, being extremely light and compact, is ideal for traveling. It fits nicely into a jacket pocket adding little weight. However if you plan to carry it around a lot, I suggest you get a case or cover for it, particularly if your jacket pocket has zips.
The iPad Mini comes in 3 Storage Options: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB which come with a price tag of $329, $429 and $529 respectively for the Wi-Fi only models. The WiFi + Cellular Model adds an additional $130 to the existing price. Black and White Models are both available with no price difference.
Which Model to Buy
Given the portable nature of the iPad Mini, buying a cellular Model would make more sense on the smaller device unless you plan to use it primarily at home, work or other wifi enabled places.
As far as storage options are concerned,
16GB – If you plan to use it primarily for reading, using a few apps, etc (Mild Media Consumption)
32GB – Moderate Media Consumption (Movies, Music, etc), Reading, Gaming, etc.
64GB – Buy this model if your iPad is your primary device for Media Consumption, Gaming, Work, Reading, etc.
White versus Black
Both the white and black models are extremely appealing. The White model has a Silver back and the chamfers around the body of the device are particularly noticable and attractive. While reading, the pages blend nicely with the white bezel of this device making it a very pleasant experience. The Black Model has a Slate back and the device contrasts better with the screen. Black Bars in widescreen movies blend better in the Black Model but smudges and fingerprints are more noticable on this model.