Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display review
Better in every way, the new iPad Mini drops all of the compromises of its predecessor and is the best small tablet
Review Date: 3 Feb 2014
Price when reviewed: £319
Reviewed By: David Ludlow
As good as the original iPad Mini was, it was a product that required some compromises compared to its big brother, the iPad 4. Foremost, to get the handheld size, you had to accept a slower processor and lower screen resolution.
This time around, with the iPad Mini with Retina Display, all of the compromises have gone and the smaller iPad has exactly the same specs as the iPad Air. That's great news, as it means you can choose the type of iPad you want based on size, comfort and price, but without the worry that you're losing out on something.
iPAD MINI WITH RETINA DISPLAY DESIGN
Apple has kept the same design for the iPad Mini with Retina Display, as used on the original Mini and, now, on the iPad Air. That's definitely not a bad thing, as it still looks so fresh. It also makes the most of the available screen space, with the thin side bezel making the 7.9in screen look a lot bigger than it is. That's exactly what you want from tablet, as the touchscreen is the sole way of interacting with it.
Its full glass front looks gorgeous, whether you opt for the Silver (white) or Space Grey models. As usual, the aluminium unibody is fantastic, simultaneously being beautiful and giving the reassuring feeling that the iPad Mini with Retina Display is incredibly tough.
The only minor difference is that this model is 0.3mm thicker than its predecessor. It's a difference you'd never notice and, given the faster processor and better screen on show here, it's impressive that the tablet is still so thin. When it comes to design and build quality, it's fair to say that no tablet from any other manufacturer comes close.
The real beauty of the iPad Mini's design is that it fits so comfortably in one hand. Although the iPad Air slimmed down a lot from the previous full-size iPad, it's still really a two-handed device. If you primarily use the iPad on commutes or other places where two-handed operation isn't so comfortable, this is definitely the model for you.
iPAD MINI WITH RETINA DISPLAY DISPLAY
There's no other way to say it: the display is fantastic. With a resolution of 2,048x1,536, the iPad Mini with Retina Display has four times the pixels of its predecessor and the same resolution as the iPad Air. Due to the smaller screen, it has a slightly higher pixel density of 326ppi. That's quite an amazing improvement.
The obvious benefit is that everything on the screen now looks super sharp, whereas the old iPad Mini looked a little low-res. Technically speaking, the resolution is more than is required for Retina display (the point at which you can't see individual pixels), but we understand why Apple picked it: it means all of the existing iPad apps work without resulting to strange scaling.
Compared to the iPad Air, the smaller screen size here means that text and icons are smaller, but not to the point where anything is difficult to read. Apple has picked a high-quality IPS panel, as we've come to expect, which is bright, with vibrant colours and a high contrast ratio.
Compared to other small-screen tablets, such as the Nexus 7, the iPad Mini with Retina Display has the advantage. While 7in is a typical screen size on other tablets, the 4:3 aspect ratio and 7.9in screen size on the iPad Mini means there's quite a bit more display on view and it feels less cramped. In terms of size and resolution, while maintaining a tablet that's handheld, we have to say that Apple has got the balance bang on.
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