Despite the late Steve Jobs’ pronouncements that Apple would never release a 7-inch tablet, Apple unveiled the iPad mini, a shrunk-down version of the 9.7-inch iPad.
The general consensus around the Web is that the iPad mini is an excellent compact tablet. But many reviews concur that the 7.9-inch iPad mini lacks the “wow factor” found in the iPhone 5 or the third-generation iPad.
Apple revolutionized the PC industry when it unveiled the finger-friendly, keyboard-less tablet in 2010, and has so far sold an eye-popping 100 million units. The iPad 3 earned overwhelming reviews for its stunning Retina display, improved camera, powerful processor, and LTE capabilities. Apple is not expected to revolutionize its product lineup every single year. Still, some reviews say that the iPad mini feels like a step backwards for Apple.
The iPad mini’s anodized aluminum back makes the device look entirely different from the full-sized iPads and is lighter (at 7.2mm) and thinner (at 312g) than previous iPad models. But other than looking like a blown-up fifth-generation iPod touch and being smaller, the iPad mini is almost identical to the two-year old iPad 2.
Almost every review notes that the iPad mini only offers the iPad 2’s A5 dual-core processor (not the new A6X chip found in the iPad 4) and the iPad 2’s 1024 x 768 display that’s relatively modest when compared to the retina display of the iPhone 5 or the 10-inch iPad 3. In addition, Apple’s refusal to add USB ports or memory card slots that are found in Windows 8 and Android tablets continues to be a drawback.
Make no mistake however. Hands-on reviews and benchmarks all report that mini is a great device notwithstanding the iPad 2-like specs. Sure it doesn’t have a retina display, but images are still bright, sharp and colorful. And while the dual-core A5 processor is certainly a notch slower than chips found in the latest-generation full-sized iPad, the mini feels fast and responsive and is great for content consumption.
As for the software, you of course get Apple's latest OS and and access to the greatest number of tablet-optimized apps found anywhere via the iOS App Store.
What about price? It's a factor as a number of critics have emphasized. The mini is a full $130 more expensive than $200 Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Regardless, Apple is known for pricing its products at a premium, and the iPad mini is Apple’s first foray in the budget-tablet market. For all the innovative strides previously made by Apple, the mini leaves something to be desired.
Nonetheless, the iPad mini should appeal to anybody who’s trying out Apple’s tablet ecosystem for the first time, as well as existing iPad owners who want a more portable tablet.
Need to Know: Apple iPad mini
1. Tiny, lightweight form factor that makes the device more comfortable to carry around. (The Good)
2. Access to the most number of tablet-optimized apps. (The Good)
3. Older processor and display. (The Bad)
4. More expensive than other 7-inch tablets. (The Bad)