Interface and Functionality


Much like the rest of the company in Apple’s lineup, the iPad mini with Retina Display, along with other recent offerings like the Phone 5s and iPad Air, is running the updated iOS 7 experience. On one side, it’s a refreshing change of scenery for the platform, which brings forth revamped visual enhancements to the presentation, but there’s nothing really unique with it here. If you want to know the ins and outs of what’s new with iOS 7, you can read about it in our review.

One of the features specifically tied here is the various gestures in play with the experience. To be exact, they include the 5-finger pinch gesture to “close” or “minimize” apps, 5-finger swipe gesture for quick and easy switching between apps, and the 5-finger swipe gesture to go into the platform’s multi-tasking view. Naturally, they’re all great and prove quite useful to the overall experience, but it would’ve been beneficial to see some new ones to accompany the updated iOS 7 experience.

Now if you’ve been using iOS 7 on other iPads, even last year’s own original iPad mini or the just recently outed iPad Air, you’ll be quite at home here. At the end of the day, beyond the visual enhancements and new features, it’s just nice that the platform still lays claim to one of iOS’s foundational principles – having an easy, intuitive, and simplified experience. Best of all, the platform is rich with many tablet optimized apps.

Messaging


Between the portrait and landscape on-screen keyboards that are available with the iPad mini with Retina Display, we gravitate to using the portrait one more – mainly because our fingers easily encompass the layout. And it helps when the keyboard features a speedy response and killer auto-correct. With the landscape one, it’s just too cramped to use naturally like a regular keyboard.

Using the default email app, it’s yet again a familiar one that only sees a subtle change with its visual presentation. Indeed, it’s more than equipped to help us organize our various accounts, but it still doesn’t have the depth of functionality we see with the Gmail experience over on Android – albeit, the official Gmail app for the iPad is pretty darn good on its own.

Organizer


Checking out the usual array of core organizer apps, it’s again the visuals that are new here with the experience. Beyond that, though, there’s nothing out of the ordinary with any of them, since they pack along the usual features and functions we’ve come to expect to find. Still, it’s nice that they’re all optimized to make great use of the extra real estate with the tablet’s display. Interestingly enough, iOS 7 does adds this new feature called iCloud Keychain, which allows us to share various passwords and credit card information between approved iOS 7 devices.

Additionally, Siri is on board with the experience, and it just goes to show how Apple keeps on making it smarter and wiser. For all of its worth, though, it still doesn’t pack the same punch and all-encompassing experience we get out of Android’s Google Now experience.

Processor and Memory


Yes, it’s small and all, but don’t let its diminutive size fool you – that’s because it’s powered by a monster processor under the hood. Like the iPhone 5s and iPad Air, this tablet benefits by employing a new chipset that’s based on 64-bit architecture. Specifically, it’s a dual-core 1.3GHz Apple A7 processor with the PowerVR G6430 GPU. The combination allows the 2nd gen iPad mini to run various tasks with ease and finesse. It surely handles basic tasks with minimal fluff, but even processor intensive ones like 3D gaming, are all easily accomplished. Right now, it’s just a matter of getting more developers on board to take advantage and make use of all the optimizations found with this 64-bit based processor.

In standard fashion, there’s no expandable storage – not a shocker of course. Bearing that in mind, consumers will need to really think about what model to get. They include 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and a beefy 128GB version, which start at $400 for the base model and increase $100 for each model up.

Internet and Connectivity


No longer must we squint in trying to decipher miniscule text, thanks to the higher resolution Retina Display it’s now sporting. With that in tow, it really livens up the web browsing experience – even more when it continues to deliver an outstanding performance. From its speedy page loads, to its buttery smooth navigational controls, there’s nothing we don’t like about the experience, so it’s just dreamy.

Do you always want to be connected? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that the iPad mini with Retina Display is available with 4G LTE connectivity, in addition to only Wi-Fi models – the unseen benefit for being such a popular tablet. Beyond that, it’s outfitted with all the comforts of today’s modern connectivity features – like aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi.

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