Apple iPad mini review

The 7.9in tablet arrives on the market as Apple follows competitors by making a pocket-sized device. Does the iPad mini retain the magic of the original?

Performance

In our tests, however, it held up rather well. In general use browsing the web, navigating the OS, sending emails and so on the mini feels smooth and responsive, just as you'd expect from an iOS device. And most demanding games we threw at it played smoothly, from Real Racing HD 2 to 3D space shooter Galaxy on Fire 2 HD. We did notice the occasional frame drop here and there, but nothing to spoil the enjoyment.

The benchmark scores bear this out: it scored 1,535ms in SunSpider, only a fraction behind the third-generation iPad; In Geekbench it matched that tablet as well, and when it came to 3D performance it actually outstripped it, scoring 25fps in GLBench to the 3's 21fps. Presumably, this is because it has far fewer pixels to manage.

And despite the ridiculously slim chassis, Apple has somehow managed to pull off exceptional battery life. In our looping video test, it lasted 11hrs 26mins not quite up with the 12hrs 32mins of the iPad 3, but a clear 1hr 38mins longer than the Nexus 7 under the same conditions.

Apple iPad mini cover

The device features a range of accessories including Smart Covers

The cameras are another high point: there's a 720p webcam on the front and a 5-megapixel shooter on the rear, with the latter producing crisp, sharp and colourful stills, plus excellent 1080p video too. There's no flash and you don't get the panorama feature of the iPhone 5, but this camera is better than anything we've seen on an Android tablet. Neither the Nexus 7 nor the Kindle Fire HD has a rear-facing camera, so there's no comparison there.

We don't think Apple has quite got the price right. Give the Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire HD and iPad mini to most consumers to play with, and most would immediately veer towards the iPad for its wider screen and slimmer profile. Tell them it's 110 more expensive than the Nexus 7 and the Fire HD, however, and they might begin to swerve back the other way.

For this reason, we don't think the iPad mini will do what Apple wants it to: it won't dominate the 7in tablet space, and we suspect Amazon and Google will continue to sell boat-loads of their budget tablets.

No matter what your fiscal sensitivities, though, you have to admire Apple for what it's done with the iPad mini. It may not have a high-density display, or the latest silicon, and it might be a little too expensive, but its beautiful design, light weight, broad screen, great cameras and fantastic battery life set it clearly out in front of the compact tablet pack.

Verdict

An outstanding compact tablet, beautifully designed and with great battery life. Apple has done a great job with the iPad mini, although it we do feel that the pricing is not as competitive as it could be.

OS: iOS 6 PROCESSOR: 1GHz dual-core RAM: 512MB STORAGE: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB SSD SCREEN: 7.9in IPS (1024 x 768) CONNECTIVITY: 802.11abgn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth CAMERA: 5-megapixel rear, HD front PORTS: 1 x Lightening connector DIMENSIONS: 135 x 75 x 200mm WEIGHT: 308g (312g with 4G)

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