iPad mini Review: A Week with Apple’s Smaller Tablet
After using the iPad mini for a week, the smaller device is more mobile and enjoyable to use than the full size iPad.
The lack of LTE on early models forces the use of a phone as a personal hotspot, which is not as handy as integrated connectivity, something that will be available in mid-November.
The lack of a Retina Display doesn’t diminish the usability of the iPad mini in most cases. Using full size iPad apps on the smaller screen is a bigger problem.
New devices get more use than normal, so, it’s hard to tell whether the enjoyment over using the iPad mini will stick, but for now the size and weight of Apple’s smaller iPad makes it a joy to use.
The iPad mini fits right inside the breast pocket of a winter jacket, which makes for a great iPad mini companion in colder weather. With protection from a coat, users may not need an iPad mini case during colder months. People who like to use their phone with no case may feel the same way about the iPad mini.
Read: Best iPad mini cases
The iPad mini feels more comfortable for reading, taking notes in meetings, playing games and checking email. After testing the smaller iPad mini display during two church services, it’s safe to say the larger iPad works better for teaching. The iPad 3rd generation’s larger screen shows more notes at one time, which makes it easier to use during presentations.
Watching videos on the iPad mini works great while out and about, but at home the larger iPad propped on a desk wins out.
Work Around for Lack of LTE on iPad mini
The lack of LTE on the iPad mini, until those models ship later this month, won’t bother those who regularly use the personal hotspot feature of their phone.
A personal hotspot comes with many new shared data plans, but integrated LTE is much easier to use. Apple and Android phone s typically bury the hotspot settings, making it a pain to turn on for fast browsing.
On iPhone 5 the hotspot feature turns off frequently due to power saving futures. People often connect, get busy on some other task, but then need to quickly get a signal. The power saving feature on the iPhone forces users to start it back up again. To fix this, just keep the Settings screen open on the iPhone 5 while using the iPad or another connected device.
On Android use a Widget app on the home screen to get quick access to the personal hotspot toggle. Elixir 2 puts buttons for the hotspot feature or a number of other settings, features or other apps on the home screen. See below.
Display Issues with iPad mini
While many iPad mini buyers wish Apple put their crisp retina display on the device, most of the time the display looks good enough and better than the iPad 2. The lower resolution when compared to the larger iPad 3rd gen hurts when reading really small text, like descriptions in the app store or on web pages that won’t zoom.
Since apps come with the same resolution as original iPad and iPad 2 app, they’re shrunk down to fit the 7.9-inch screen. Developers don’t need to create another size for their apps, which cuts down on the size of apps downloaded. However, this makes tapping points even smaller. Poorly designed apps, with really small buttons are harder to use on the iPad mini.
Since the bezels around the edge don’t give users a big enough area to hold the iPad without touch the screen sometimes, Apple reduced the tapping sensitivity along the edges. That’s great except when a button along the edge requires a tap. They don’t always respond, requiring frequent double and triple taps.
A week later and the iPad mini still impresses, though I’ll probably exchange it for a LTE model when they become available later this month.
Let’s hope the next Apple iPad mini includes a Retina Display and a fix for edge sensitivity. Hopefully app developers will keep the smaller screen in mind when updating and designing iPad apps, so users don’t need to deal with small tap zones and buttons.
With the above improvements, the iPad mini could become the perfect tablet of choice for most iPad users. Expect Apple to sell it as the basic iPad and the 10-inch iPad 4th generation as the luxury device.