The "1-Minute" Review
- Slight lag when switching between multiple apps
- Different dimensions means you cannot use older covers
- No mute/rotation lock switch
The iPad Mini 3 was a bit of a letdown for many reviewers as it barely improved upon the iPad Mini 2. They were expecting more of the same with the iPad Mini 4, but were pleasantly surprised with all of the new tweaks and upgrades. At first glance, the Mini 4 looks almost identical to its predecessor in terms of overall design. It is slightly thinner at 0.2 inches and lighter, but also a tad taller. Besides some tweaks to the dimensions, the only other noticeable hardware change is the lack of orientation lock/mute switch. Design-wise, the Mini 4 maintains the same metal-and-glass construction and curved edges as Apple's other tablets and smartphones.
The 7.9-inch display offers the same 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution as previous generations of the Mini. Apple has laminated the screen, eliminating the air gap between the display and glass. For many critics, this provided a much richer user experience as it made them feel as though they were directly interacting with the apps and iOS itself with nothing in the way. Not to mention this change also provided them with less glare for a better reading experience and sunlight legibility. The biggest update for the display, however, is the increased color range. Whereas the Mini 3 could only show 67 percent of the color gamut, the Mini 4 hits an impressive 99.8 percent. Still, experts found Samsung tablets had better color accuracy though they add the Mini 4 still offers very vibrant colors.
Internally, the Mini 4 has 2GB of RAM and 1.5GHz A8 dual-core processor. Apple boasts the latest chip boasts a 30 percent speed gain over the Mini 3 and a 60 percent jump in graphics performance. When put to the test experts did notice apps opened slightly faster, but also add there was some slight stutters when utilizing Split View and app switcher. For the most part though, they did not experience any other lag outside of these tasks. The Next Web states, "With graphics-heavy games…A8 SoC executed flawlessly." The Mini 4 actually comes with a smaller battery than even the Mini 2, but thanks to a more power-efficient processor it actually provided critics with around 10 hours of moderate use.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade is the 8MP camera. It is actually the same camera as found on the iPad Air 2 and reviewers were similarly able to capture excellent photos. While bright light conditions led to colorful and detailed photos, the camera still provided fairly accurate though somewhat grainy low light images. While not on the same par as the iPhone 6 or 6S, most agree it is more than adequate for a tablet.
Overall, reviewers highly recommend the iPad Mini 4 for people looking for a more compact tablet. The Verge states, "…this is the best small tablet Apple has ever made." Ars Technica adds, "…if you're a heavy tablet user with an appetite for games and apps and you've been waiting for a mini tablet…the iPad Mini 4 is probably the best thing you can buy right now."