With just 2 days to go before the iPad mini’s worldwide launch in 26 countries, the reviews have started to hit the web. Tech bloggers from Jim Dalrymple of The Loop to The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky have all found the mini to be beautifully made, light and easy to hold with just one hand. Not surprisingly, the one thing most noted the 7.9″ tablet could use is a Retina display. While it’s still a good display by many accounts, those used to Apple’s high-res screen on the iPhone 5 and newer iPads will no doubt find that text isn’t nearly as sharp. That said, and despite its $329 price tag, the reviews are still calling the iPad mini the best ‘small’ tablet money can buy. The roundup after the break.
Jim Dalrymple [The Loop]
I use my iPad mini for tasks rather than watching videos or playing games, but I use it a lot. This is a Wi-Fi model, which was on all the time and I have yet to see anything cause a significant drain on the battery. The battery is lasting days for me and it is on 24/7.
If there was one thing I was surprised with, it would be that the iPad mini doesn’t have a Retina display. It surely gives Apple some room to upgrade the device if they want to next year, but that’s the only thing I would really add to the mini.
I am a firm believer in “you get what you pay for.” The iPad mini is a perfect example of that. If you want to save $50 and buy a cheap-ass tablet, go ahead. If you want quality the iPad mini will be waiting for you when you come to your senses.
Joshua Topolsky [The Verge]
Minor quibbles aside, the iPad mini stands head and shoulders above the competition in terms of design, the caliber of its components, and the solidness of how it’s been built. But it also has another quality, one that’s nearly as important: the device has personality. I’ve started to think of it as a constant companion — small enough to throw in a bag or carry around the house. There’s something endearing about the mini that makes you want to keep it on-hand and use it often. It’s a feeling the larger iPad never elicited in me.
The iPad mini hasn’t wrapped up the “cheapest tablet” market by any stretch of the imagination. But the “best small tablet” market? Consider it captured.
Tim Stevens [Engadget]
No, this isn’t Retina, but maintaining the same resolution as a 10-inch display shrunken down to 7.9 means a necessary boost in pixel density: 163ppi. That’s a nice increase over the iPad 2′s 132ppi, but it still falls short of the 264ppi of the fourth-generation iPad — not to mention, the iPhone 5′s 326dpi. Naturally, this means that text isn’t anywhere near as sharp as on the newer iPads, but this is still a very nice-looking display.
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.
Walt Mossberg [All Things D]
I’ve been testing the iPad mini for several days and found it does exactly what it promises: It brings the iPad experience to a smaller device. Every app that ran on my larger iPad ran perfectly on the mini. I was able to use it one-handed and hold it for long periods of time without tiring. My only complaints were that it’s a tad too wide to fit in most of my pockets, and the screen resolution is a big step backwards from the Retina display on the current large iPad.
If you love the iPad, or want one but just found it too large or heavy, the iPad mini is the perfect solution.
Vincent Nguyen [Slashgear]
It’s the width and length which are most notable, however. Held in portrait orientation, the 5.3-inch frame is easy to grip in a single hand, your fingers tucked around the edges without feeling stretched. It makes the iPad mini a legitimate alternative to a Kindle or other, similarly-sized e-reader, light enough and scaled the right way to grip for extended periods in bed. The 7.87-inch length, meanwhile, makes for a tablet that’s great for thumb-typing when held in landscape orientation, the iPad mini cradled in your hands.
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.
Harry McCracken [Time]
In the camera department, the Mini does outclass the $199 tablets, which come with anywhere from one front-facing camera (the Nexus and Fire HD) to no camera at all (the Nook HD). It’s got the same shooters as the big iPad: a 720p model on the front and a five-megapixel one on the back. The former is great for use with FaceTime, Skype and other video-calling services; the latter is pretty respectable if you’re the type who likes to take snapshots and capture movies with a tablet.
If your budget’s got more wiggle room, the iPad Mini is the best compact-size 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.
Scott Stein [CNet]
Apps loaded and played at the same speeds as on the iPad 2: good, but not blazing. Apps tended to load a few seconds slower on average than on the fourth-gen iPad, with its generation-and-a-half faster A6X processor. Web pages loaded, on my home Fios network, a few seconds behind the third- and fourth-gen iPads.
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.
Rich Jaroslovsky [Bloomberg]
The most striking thing about the mini is in how thin and light it is. It is really thin and light. Crazy thin and crazy light, even.
Besides the size and price tag — more about that later — the most notable thing about the mini is the quality of its display, which can be best described as adequate. Unlike the big iPad (just refreshed with a faster processor and graphics chip, plus Apple’s new Lightning connector), the iPad mini lacks Apple’s ultra-sharp Retina display.
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 that much better.
Charles Arthur [The Guardian]
It’s not a retina screen! It’s only 1024×768, so that the resolution is 163ppi. This has been a big complaint (or snark, in some cases) that I’ve heard from people who haven’t laid eyes on this device. If all you read is specifications, then the iPad mini screen is far worse than the Kindle Fire’s or Nexus 7′s, right?
Well, put them beside each other, and the story changes. Web page rendering on the Kindle Fire is, frankly, awful. It’s blocky, and there’s a yellowish cast which personally I dislike. The iPad mini is bright, and white, and the text rendering is good – and there’s no obvious pixellation.
Lining those pluses and minuses up against those for the Nexus 7 – which garnered four stars – there’s no doubt that this is indeed a five-star device. The
20%70% difference in comparative price is more than made up by the difference in build quality and software selection.
Shane Richmond [The Telegraph]
The sacrifice in screen size from a 10-inch tablet is balanced out by the more convenient size. You can hold it in one hand, slip it into a jacket pocket or a handbag and still have all the power of an iPad at your fingertips. In practice the smaller screen size is not much of a problem and it is because of that 0.9-inches, which gives 35 per cent more screen area than the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD.
But it’s with tasks such as web browsing where the extra screen real estate counts. Viewing a full-width web page on the Nexus 7 means the text is uncomfortably small, for my taste, making it essential to zoom in and scroll to read everything. The iPad mini is just about as small as a screen can get without necessitating zooming and scrolling.
Clayton Morris [Fox]
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.