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iPad mini Review: The New Default iPad

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The iPad mini is the best iPad yet and will likely become the default iPad choice for both consumers and businesses. It is both affordable and portable, two traits that are important no matter who’s shopping.  Apple has a huge hit on its hands, though it may take some time for the iPad mini to really catch fire.

A lot of people are asking why they should buy the iPad mini instead of the larger iPad with Retina Display. That’s the wrong question. After spending a few days with the iPad mini, I think people should start with the smaller device and ask themselves why they’d want the larger iPad.

Apple announced that it sold 3 million iPads the first weekend the iPad mini was on sale, but didn’t break out how many iPad minis it sold compared to the full-size iPads. Whatever the ratio, some critics say these numbers are disappointing and point to a weak product. I disagree. The iPad mini is going to be a huge hit this holiday season and beyond.

ipad-mini-review

The iPad mini is Cheap

While the iPad mini is more expensive than alternatives, such as the Google Nexus 7 ($199), it is a relative bargain in the world of Apple products.  At $329, the iPad mini is just a hair more expensive than the top and iPod touch ($299)  and $170 cheaper than the full-sized iPad ($499).

Screen Shot 2012-11-05 at 3.12.09 PM

For Some, the iPad mini is in impulse–buy territory.  Sure, $329 isn’t anything to scoff at, but it is priced more like an accessory you would find at an Apple Store rather than an actual computing device.  Apple sells headphones and speakers systems that cost about as much, if not more than, the iPad mini. Take for example the $299 Beats over the ear headphones pictured above.

The iPad is going to be at the top of many people’s holiday shopping lists once again, but for the first time there’s going to be a relatively affordable option.  The iPad mini  is in the same general price range as video game systems, small TVs and bargaining–basement notebooks.  I have a feeling that a lot of people would rather give an iPad mini,  which is built to Apple’s excellent standards, instead of a plasticky

Black Friday special notebook or an off–br businesses are also going to love the iPad  mini’s  low starting price.  Some businesses balk  at spending wads of cash for iPads after equipping their employees with business–grade notebooks and smartphones. For many workers it’s going to be a lot easier to sell the boss on $329 device that doesn’t pretend to be a laptop replacement.

iPad mini is Much More Mobile

The iPad mini is  an entirely different animal than full-sized iPad. The iPad mini is the kind of device that sells itself once users go hands on with it. It’s surprising thin and light.

( Read:Size Matters: iPad mini vs iPad vs iPhone 5 )

Virtually every iPad owner I showed the iPad mini to  said that they would rather have the smaller model than their current one. The magic of the iPad mini is that people are going to start carrying them everywhere.  Too many iPads never leave the house, which means many users aren’t allowing the tablets to live up to their potentials.

iPad Mini iphone ipad

Here’s a photo that illustrates just how much smaller the iPad mini is than the standard iPad.

The fact of the matter is that the popular original iPad, iPad 2, New iPad (3rd generation) and iPad with Retina Display (4th generation)  are all too big to carry around without thinking about it. On the other hand, the iPad mini  is small enough to fit in a big pocket or small purse. It is light enough to forget that you are even carrying it.

Though relatively heavy full-sized iPad can be uncomfortable to use without support for extended periods gaming or browsing sessions. The iPad mini is much easier to use and handle than its predecessors. This is especially important for apps and games that require moving and shaking the device, such as racing games.

What about the Retina Display?

As with every gadget, the iPad mini comes with tradeoffs. Most notably, the iPad mini lacks a Retina Display, something that’s standard issue on the iPhone, iPod touch and full-sized iPad.

Side-by-side, devices with Retina Displays are noticeably sharper than the iPad mini. Text isn’t as crisp on the iPad mini, which may matter to those that read a lot of text on their tablets. But the overall display quality is still excellent. It has the same resolution as the iPad 2, but its smaller display means pixel density is higher, making text and other details look better on the smaller device than the iPad 2.

ipad-mini 2 (2)

As noticeable as the lack of a Retina Display is to myself and others that stare at screens the majority of our waking hours, nobody I’ve shown my iPad mini too has said anything negative about the display at all. In fact, most of the people I’ve shown the iPad mini to own a Retina Display iOS device or two. Apple’s continued iPad 2 sales (which ceased recently) are a testament to the fact that a lot of consumers don’t prioritize the Retina Display over saving money.

For those that must have the best of both worlds, the iPad mini will likely get a Retina Display in the next revision or two.

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

19 Comments

  1. Rick E. Schwartz

    11/05/2012 at 4:43 pm

    Thirty Reasons Why You’d Be Crazy to Buy an iPad Mini (and One Reason Why You’ll Buy It Anyway)
    http://mostly-tech.com/2012/10/23/ten-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-buy-a-ipad-mini/

  2. Leigh Holing

    11/05/2012 at 5:38 pm

    I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that’s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do, Fly26.com

  3. Dan G

    11/05/2012 at 6:18 pm

    Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire are priced better

    • Shawn

      11/06/2012 at 6:03 am

      What are talking about u pay more for better. Nexus7 is a hunk of garbage. I got that and all I had was problems.

      • Chris Gapske

        11/14/2012 at 4:25 am

        I Pad Mini = Hunk Of Garbage. Over Priced and poor quality.

        • Shawn

          11/14/2012 at 2:59 pm

          Do u have one.

  4. Will

    11/05/2012 at 6:52 pm

    The Mini iPad isn’t the only new tablet released this week — the Novo 7 Flame 32GB also just launched which offers a pretty impressive 7 Inch tablet priced at $189 at a site called TabletSprint – The Novo 7 Flame Android tablet has a 1280×800 screen, 2nd Gen Dual Core CPU, 32GB Memory, MicroSD portable storage, an HDMI connection to your TV with full 1080p (HD) that’s great for movie downloads, a 5 megapixel Rear Camera with AF & LED Flash and a 2 MP webcam; Plus great connection – Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, and options for 3G. The tablet is made by Ainol Electronics, which received a “Best Tablet of the Year” award at CNET Consumer Electronics Show 2012 — and is available through TabletSprint –

    • Shawn

      11/06/2012 at 6:07 am

      Ya but I bet u they are no where close to the reliability of the iPad mini.

  5. Jim

    11/05/2012 at 7:12 pm

    The significantly larger screen than the 7 inch tablets, Apple ecosystem and much faster wifi (overlooked in every review) lighter weight than the 7 inch tablets make the iPad Mini a winner. Pay more to get more.

  6. George

    11/06/2012 at 12:50 am

    the less powerful processor, lower resolution screen, weedy speaker, locked-in ecosystem complete with crapmapsapp…all for loads more cash. Apple. Pay more to get less.

  7. Lola

    11/06/2012 at 5:09 am

    You forgot to mention that the mini-ipad is also magical.

    But seriously, what’s this “much faster wifi”? How about some numbers? And what about that seriously crappy screen on the mini? Larger area with a worse resolution – grainy and ugly.

    This thing is nothing but a money grab by Apple (not that there’s anything wrong with that – if you got sheep, fleece them!).

  8. Kindroid

    11/06/2012 at 9:22 am

    Apple fanbois amaze me. For the last year and half…they have lambasted every other mobile device as unusable because of the lack of a Retina display. Countless reviews proffering that the display is of first and foremost important part of mobile devices. They are in your face 24/7 and integral to your ability to enjoy the experience. Along comes the iPad Mini with a turd of a display by current mobile display standards. Displaying obvious pixelization. Rendering letterboxed video (most TV and Movies) at a resolution of 1024×576…just barely SD. A 62% color matrix resulting in poor color reproduction. And a screen with a high reflective index. And should we be surprised to see reviews that say the display is not “horrible” and better than iPad’s 1 and 2. Apple FUD at its best (worse?)

  9. DNel

    11/06/2012 at 5:01 pm

    For what it’s worth, g4tv’s gadget pr0n rated the iPad mini 3 out of 5 stars. This was mainly due to the poor quality display. If you have ever watched g4tv, you know that they are pro Apple products, but this time they recommend purchasing the Nexus-7 or Kindle Fire HD instead of the iPad mini. Even gottabemobile’s Warner Crocker enjoys using Android Jelly Bean OS.

  10. Nick

    11/06/2012 at 5:55 pm

    I stopped reading as soon as he called this thing cheap. Even pro-Apple c/net had to call the pricing into question.

  11. Android Rocks

    11/12/2012 at 8:30 am

    My iPad minis display is abysmal..Makes the screen on my google nexus 7 look like the retina display on the not new any longer iPad 3rd gen.Mine was an regrettable impulse purchase just to see what apples products were like,I’m no isheep.I got banned this week off the apple support forum for speaking my mind about apple products and fan base to their loyal legion of brain washed followers. iOS is bland and you don’t even feel like you own the device with their locked down firmware..You have no choice but to buy from the apps store or music from iTunes ,you can’t download anything off the Internet.So they get money out of you from all angles..Now Android you do as you wish and download what you want when you want, but the sheep claim the apps are inferior & they mock it.But that’s only because the blinkers are on where they are concerned.They pay premium prices for technology that’s yrs behind but call it innovation or what ever other over exaggerated word/phrase they choose to use. They mocked the google nexus at the launch of he mini saying they got it right and the competition failed miserably..No Apple!!!! it should be Apple failed yet again and the competition always gets it right..They rave about the build quality but in a strip down review of the mini it was found that the screen and other parts internally were held in place with pot loads of glue and would make a near impossible repair if needed..Quality eh mmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!. I beg to differ..

    • Shawn

      11/12/2012 at 5:03 pm

      Hey guess what, android failed in everything with their ugly plastic crap vs. apple with awsome aluminum.

  12. The New iPhone

    10/06/2013 at 10:34 am

    I so jealous. I don’t have it, but I’m just reading its review.

  13. iPad Air cases

    12/11/2013 at 10:35 am

    I don’t have iPad mini, but want one after that review.

  14. Shawn

    11/12/2012 at 5:06 pm

    Hey I love my iPad mini and the screen looks fine. So that must mean ur blind.

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