I called the original iPad Mini the Goldoilocks tablet when I reviewed it last year and that description stands today. This is the perfect size and format for just about any activity.
Out of the box it looks exactly the same as last year’s model; it is 0.3mm thicker than the older model and ever so slightly heavier, a 23-gram difference for the Wi-Fi version or a 29-gram difference for the LTE model at 0.73 or 0.75 pound, respectively. Unless you have an old model to compare you will not notice the difference. All my old cases fit which is great news.
Las year you were making a bit of a compromise when you chose the Mini it was smaller than the current iPad but with the power and screen resolution of the iPad 2. Well, with this one there are no really no compromises you pretty much have an iPad Air in a smaller package. They share the same number of pixels but the smaller screen size on the mini yields a spectacular 326 pixels per inch , they both have the same A7 processor, the same cameras, the same styling.The A7 processor in the iPad mini with Retina runs a little bit slower than the one in the iPad Air. The iPad Air’s A7 is running at 1.39GHz while the iPad mini’s clocks in at 1.27GHz.
WiFi performance is considerably improved: With dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) 802.11n Wi-Fi with MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) technology) download speeds can reach up to 300 Mbps — double the data rate of the previous-generation iPad mini. On the WiFi + Cellular model Apple has added more LTE bands so you should have little trouble finding an LTE connection pretty much anywhere in the world.
The iPad mini with Retina display is way faster than the previous model, I didn’t notice any performance differences between the Mini and the Air in day to day use. However benchmarks suggest it is a tad slower than the iPad Air. By the way, there is also the M7 coprocessor that brings some cool features to the table. For example diary app Day One can record your activities while you are carrying the device around.
The mini’s 5-megapixel main camera and 1.2-megapixel front camera are very good cameras, for a tablet. The front camera is great for Facetime chats and the rear camera takes quite good pictures in good lighting conditions. I still think using a tablet, even a mini as a camera looks pretty funny.
Like the Air, the Mini has a pair of bottom-ported speakers. While the grilles are smaller than the they sounded just as good as the ones on their big brother.
New with this generation of iPads is a bunch of free productivity apps. There is all the iWork apps…Pages, Numbers, and Keynote as well as the iLife apps…iMovie, iPhoto and Garage Band which adds quite a bit of value especially if you are using these apps on your home computer.
Apple really picked up its game with this latest Mini and raised the price by 70 bucks. It is a huge improvement over the previous model However the competition has also stepped up its game as well and there are several really good Android out there for considerably less money. That said I think the format of the iPad works better for most situations..movies are really sharp but HD movies letterbox to a smaller size because of the format something that doesn’t happen on tablets with a 16:9 display.
While the $400US ($420CAD) price tag is a bit scary I had no qualms paying that price because it is the perfect size, has a great screen and performance, Apple design and quality of build and of course the vast Apple ecosystem. As an added bonus it plays well with my iPhone, Mac mini and MacBook Air.
I feel the iPad Mini with Retina Display is simply the best of the small tablets even though you can buy an Android tablet with seemingly similar features for at least $100 less money..or even less if you look at 7″ models. I find 7″ just a bit too small and an 8″ while considerably better is awkward to hold in portrait orientation with the 16:9 screen.
The iPad Mini is available from Apple and Authorized resellers. Prices range from $399US ($420CAD) for the 16Gb WiFi model up to $829US ($849CAD) for the 128Gb WiFi + Cellular model.