Is bigger better with the iPad mini?

Is bigger better with the iPad mini?
If you watched the Apple announcement today, and had the patience to sit through all of the new Mac products, and the iPad refresh, just to get to the iPad mini announcement, you would have been treated to something strange. The selling point for the iPad mini was that "bigger is better", at least when compared to the Nexus 7. This seems like a completely counter-intuitive argument, and we wanted to look into it a bit more. 

We have known for a long time that the iPad mini would be clocking in at just under an 8" display, and that's exactly what Apple announced. We knew that it would be marketed as a great way to read books or magazines, and that's what was pitched. The strange thing about the announcement is that Apple tried to use the same "smaller but bigger" line that it used for the iPhone 5 to explain the iPad mini, but that argument doesn't really work. 

Is bigger better with the iPad mini?
The argument with the iPhone 5 is that it's thinner and lighter, but has a bigger screen, and most importantly (from Apple's perspective) is that the iPhone 5 still fits well into the average sized hand. That's where the iPad mini looks to be in trouble. Yes, the mini is thinner than the Nexus 7 (7.2mm vs 10.45mm), and it's lighter (308g vs 340g), but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be easier to hold one-handed, because the mini is also wider (135mm vs 120mm). The weight and thinness look amazing, but if the width isn't right, it would force users to hold the tablet more like a book, with a thumb on the screen or the bezel for stability. The side bezel of the iPad mini looks to be far too small for this (although it can work on the Nexus 7), and leaving your thumb on the screen will cause too many issues on a touchscreen device.

If you have big hands, and a Nexus 7, you'll probably notice that holding it is quite comfortable to hold one-handed (as the dummy hand is holding the iPad mini in Apple's announcement), and we repeat, that is if you have big hands. Adding almost another 15mm (.6") to that width is simply too much. For example, the iPad mini is going to be just as wide as a Galaxy Nexus is tall (or a number of other smartphones), so give it a try holding a Galaxy Nexus one-handed in landscape view. Even for someone with big hands, that feels like a stretch, and that's before adding all of the extra weight associated with an iPad mini. For anyone with an "average sized hand" as Apple loves to use as a reference for the iPhone, holding the iPad mini one-handed as Apple shows in the presentation is going to be almost impossible. And, attempting to fit an iPad mini into a pocket (which is possible with the Nexus 7) is something we also expect to be very cumbersome, if not impossible.

Is bigger better with the iPad mini?
Of course, the trade-off for all of this is that you'll get quite a bit more screen real estate. According to Apple, the screen is 50% bigger than the Nexus 7, and has a functional difference even larger than that because of Android's on-screen buttons, which bumps it to about 67% more space. No mention from Apple that this is all at a lower resolution than the Nexus 7 (163 PPI vs 216 PPI), but we wouldn't expect Apple to mention that. What is probably more disappointing is that Apple has decided to stick with the 4:3 aspect ratio for the iPad mini, rather than go for the 16:9 it has on the iPhone 5. 

The Nexus 7 also sports a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is why it isn't as wide as the iPad mini. This not only makes it easier to hold one-handed, but it means you can watch video without any annoying letterboxing (although Apple doesn't seem to mind letterboxing in the right context.) This all points to the fact that Apple is pushing the iPad mini more towards the iPad rather than making it a device that is more of a hybrid between the iPhone and iPad. The Nexus 7 was designed as a hybrid device, sitting directly between 4" screens and 10" screens, and even adding a new Android UI layout to accommodate the size. 

By now, we all know that the iOS UI doesn't change, but Apple did prove with the iPhone 5 that it was willing to at least change the shape of an iOS device. It seems odd that the company promptly forgot its own theories about making devices that comfortably fit into the "average hand" in designing the iPad mini. We're pretty sure that the iPad mini will still sell incredibly well, but we wouldn't be surprised to hear some complaints from users that find it too big to hold one-handed, which should be the aim of offering a "mini" iPad. 

images via The Verge

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iPad mini
  • Display 7.9" 1024 x 768 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A5, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 4440 mAh



1. Savage unregistered

The iPad Mini design is weird. Bezels on the sides being thinner than the one on the top and bottom make it look ugly. Not a well though out design.

4. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

That's how most devices under 10" are designed. Only 10" tabs have the space to have full bezel all around.

16. Savage unregistered

Yes but they made it too thin, trying to accommodate the massive screen for a size that small.

21. AnTuTu

Posts: 1595; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

MichaelHeller:- Just say both of them are crap :p

23. dmckay12

Posts: 243; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

True, but there is something about how it looks that I don't like. I don't know exactly what it is, but it just looks strange to me (this time i am not referring to the Apple logo on the back).

9. Aeires unregistered

Not so much ugly or not, just not a lot of room to hold it from the sides. Almost forces you to hold it in the palm of your hand. When reading books on my tablet, I hold it by the edges, not like shown above.

30. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

and pretty soon they will patent the 7" screen size and people act like it's such a BIG thing while other tablets was 7" a year before the iPad Mini came out.

2. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

Sad part is that no matter what we say the isheeep will still buy it for the Apple logo.

5. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

The logo, or perhaps because some people actually prefer Apple, but that's just a crazy idea, isn't it?

10. Fallout09

Posts: 421; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

It’s because they don’t know any better. I compare the typical apple user to people before Christopher Columbus. The world is flat and you will sail of the edge of the world if you go too far.

12. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Just because someone owns an Android doesn't mean they know more than anyone else. No matter what platform, there are the elite few who are tech savvy, and the vast majority that couldn't care less. It's not specific to Apple users. BTW, it was common knowledge well before Columbus that the Earth was round. The flat thing is a silly myth that won't die.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

iBeg to differ, people were exiled and killed centuries ago for opposing the belief that the Earth was flat. I would take a second gander at those history books if I were you. Unless, of course, you're referring to iHistory, in which case, your point is completely vAliDated.

24. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

The Earth was known to be round in the 3rd century: Sure, there were people exiled and killed for opposing that belief, but that's how it goes for all beliefs, and the small subset that would kill to deny that makes no difference to the fact that the Earth was known to be round well before Columbus. Side note: I get the urge to give you a warning every time you make an iPun, but that would be abusing my power, so I won't.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Oh thank you Michael, you've just brought back fond memories for me of Alexander The Great. By the way, I'm no snitch but Victor H. used an iPun earlier in one of his articles. (touché) '-)

26. devildlm1

Posts: 71; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

This is just a personal observation and not meant to be a dictation of how everyone is but I have noticed that my android tech savvy friends do tend to know more and be more passionate about phones than my tech savvy friends who have iPhones. They both know about the most advertised phones such as the S3, One X, and Lumia but I find that only my android friends know about the Oppo find, J butterfly, Xiaomi mi2 and even the optimus G in some cases.

11. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

Just buy an iPad 2 for $349 new at microcenter or a refurb. This mini version brings "nothing" new to the table. You still can't even put this in your pocket. Like I said; isheeep will buy this for the logo only not knowing that it's basically a iPad 2. Can you imagine the people selling their iPad 2 only to lose money for this. I can see it happening.

14. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I may push my wife to do just that, because I think she would get far more use out of a device the size of the mini rather than her current iPad. The 10" iPad can be cumbersome to carry, and if you're home, you may as well use your laptop. But, a smaller tablet, especially one as thin and light as the iPad mini is far more portable, and far easier to use say for reading in bed.

34. BadAssAbe

Posts: 506; Member since: Apr 22, 2011

Apple makes great stuff but you need to know Apple does overcharge on EVERYTHING they sell and by buying their products you are not helping anyone get their moneys worth. Let everybody know the real reason apple is a bad company

31. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

and they still don't realize it have the same structure design


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Well, hypothetically speaking, if I were to get a MiNiPad, I certainty wouldn't have a problem holding it with one hand since I have gigantic hands and a great deal of experience holding with one hand anyway. So, NO, I don't think this will present a problem.

7. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I have large hands as well (which are fairly proportionate to my 6'4" frame), but I'm having trouble imagining holding the mini the way it's pictured. Just holding my GNex in landscape feels like my hand has to stretch too much, and it's not comfortable just holding my phone that way, and my phone is less than half the weight of an iPad mini.

6. plgladio

Posts: 314; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Michael, one thing you forgot: Apple fans only will buy, you can't expect complaint from them. Secondly: Whatever they make is correct. So no one can talk against them. One thing I decided, they are in a fantasy world no one can stop them. But its good to read your article all time.

8. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Yeah, because no Apple users ever complained about reception issues, or Maps, or anything like that... Apple users are just like any other users, they adapt to what they are given, which cuts down on complaints, but if something is wrong, they do complain.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Don't you mean they iAdapt?? Great article, by the 'vay!! I am looking forward to testing the MiNiPad with my gigantic right hand in the very near future.

15. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I hate puns, especially all iPuns, so no I can't say that I mean that they "iAdapt". Sorry.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Very well then, I guess Apple users are better conditioned to settle. Don't get me wrong, I still have my iPhone 4; I love Algorridm's DJ Pro app'!! Cheers!

35. BadAssAbe

Posts: 506; Member since: Apr 22, 2011

I love puns but the "i" ones are too easy and Roid overused

20. Fayeznoor

Posts: 74; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

they dont complain, its like complain & praise

32. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

exactly my point and another thing is they act like they work for apple keep saying that Android keeps copying Apple

17. Fayeznoor

Posts: 74; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

few stuff i observed in presentation Suddenly , the bezel is worst s**t to have on product apart from Ipad bezel and crap load of bezel on iphones? "Ipad Mini is great for reading your email, surfing the web, managing your photos." Tim Cook few months ago, the world was told by same tim cook that Ipad 9.7 incher is best for reading your email, surfing the web, managing your photos. Dont understand what to make of it

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