The first Apple iPad mini reviews are out and they are extremely positive. The 7.9-inch tablet by Apple is praised for its premium unmatched design and while some criticize Apple's $329 pricing, the overwhelming feeling is that this device has the potential to end up being in a league of its own rather than compete with existing 7-inch devices.
Virtually everyone agrees that this is the best-designed slate in the more compact 7 to 8-inch form factor. Apple's attention to details allows it to price the product much higher than competing tablets, but while it's the best, this time Cupertino is not establishing a new category as with the original iPad, it's following in the footsteps of others.
If we had to point out one universal gripe, it's the lack of a Retina display. Virtually all reviewers agree that the Nexus 7 has the more detailed screen, and that difference is noticeable.
What makes the case for the iPad mini so strong is the immense iOS ecosystem of apps. All tablet apps scale perfectly well (they look smaller, of course) on the 7.9-inch iPad, and that means you have over 275,000 apps made for tablets. What else do reviewers have to say? Check out our review recap right below to find out.
Apple iPad mini review recap
Apple iPad mini review recap
The iPad mini is an excellent tablet — but it’s not a very cheap one.
There's no tablet in this size range that's as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who's been living with (and loving) Google's Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don't say that lightly.
The iPad mini isn't perfect - for one reason [the lack of a Retina screen] in particular - but it's damn close to my ideal device. In my review of the Nexus 7 (which I really liked, to the shock of many), I kept coming back to one thing: the form-factor. Mix this with iOS and Apple's app ecosystem and the intangibles I spoke about earlier and the iPad mini is an explosion of handheld joy
“Wow, it feels like a Kindle.”
“Ew, the screen is terrible.”
If the Mini had a retina display, I’d switch from the iPad 3 in a heartbeat. As it stands, I’m going to switch anyway. Going non-retina is a particularly bitter pill for me, but I like the iPad Mini’s size and weight so much that I’m going to swallow it.
But how will a $329 tablet fare in a world of $199 tablets? It’s hard to know for sure, but my guess would be in the range of “quite well” to “spectacular”. Apple has done a good job of making the case that the iPad mini is not just another 7-inch tablet — in fact, it’s not a 7-inch tablet at all. It’s a 7.9-inch tablet — a subtle, but important difference.
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.
This isn't just an Apple tablet made to a budget. 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.
If the iPad Mini had a Retina display, a newer A6 processor, and a slightly lower price, it would be the must-have Apple gadget of the year. Even without that, it's still incredibly appealing.
Apple's most important products created their own markets: People didn't know they wanted or needed an iPhone until Steve Jobs & Co. showed it to them. The iPad mini, by contrast, is an attempt to follow competitors rather than find a new audience. Amazon.com's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7, to name two, have shown that users want something smaller than the 9.7-inch screen that's been on every iPad until now.
The smaller form changes the way you approach the tablet. I've never hesitated to travel with the bigger iPad. It's terrific for reading, watching movies and playing games on an airplane - but given a choice, before a road trip I would now more likely grab the little guy. It's the right size for immersing yourself in a novel.
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.