Apple iPad Mini review

The display's resolution may not have the full-size iPad's wow factor, but this is still an excellent compact tablet

13 May 2013
Our Rating 
5/5
Price when reviewed 
269
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

Page 2 of 3Apple iPad Mini review

Specifications

7.9 in 1,024x768 display, 308g, 1GHz Apple A5, 512MB RAM, 16GB disk, Apple iOS 6

CAMERA

Although you still look a bit of an idiot using it, the smaller size makes it less embarrassing to use the iPad Mini to take photos than on the full-size iPad. The 5-megapixel sensor appears to be the same one used in the iPhone 4, iPad 3 and iPad 4, and takes well-exposed images that have a reasonable amount of detail. It's no comparison to a modern smartphone, and it lacks an integrated flash, HDR or panorama modes.

iPad Mini photo tests

here's a typical landscape shot taken with the iPad Mini...

iPad Mini photo tests

...and here's the same shot at 100%

We also took test shots using our still-life scene. We test the camera using three lighting settings - well-lit, dimly lit and low-light - to see how the iPad Mini dealt with different situations. All of the photos below include 100 per cent crops of the frame, so you can see the actual detail.

Using our well-lit scene, pictures were generally well exposed, with good colour balance. The relatively low-resolution sensor struggles to capture highlights, though - the reflective foil covering the card game and the metallic case fans show signs of peaking.

Apple iPad Mini sample shot high brightness

Brightly-lit scenes work best with the iPad Mini camera, although there is some light peaking

Noise visibly increases when moving to the dimly-lit scene, although the image is still perfectly usable for screen or smaller prints. Colours are generally accurate, although darker image elements lose detail - the plastic mesh at the front of the scene loses practically all detail at its centre. Choosing a different auto-exposure point will rectify the disparity between bright and low-light images, but only by a small amount.

Apple iPad Mini sample shot medium brightness

Colours remain accurate, but detail begins to disappear in dimly-lit scenes

Finally, our low-light scene results in lots of flare from the lights in the fans, along with some visible reflection from the lens cover seen over the toy duck. The image is also incredibly noisy and there's much less detail. Although you can still make out the general scene, the lack of detail is still disappointing.

Apple iPad Mini sample shot low brightness

It's tough to make out any details in low-light scenes

VIDEO RECORDING

The iPad Mini is at least capable of recording 1080p video, and the smaller size makes it more practical than a full-size iPad. You can view our still life test below, where we adjust the lighting to fully test the camera. Our shots include a well-lit scene, a dimly-lit scene and a very tough dark scene.

Taking stills from the video we can see that (unsurprisingly) the well-lit scene produced the best results. The shot is well exposed and there's a reasonably level of detail, although the darker areas are left somewhat lacking - it's tough to make out any fur around the toy monkey's neck area.

Apple iPad Mini sample shot fully lit (video still)

There's a lack of detail in darker areas, but well-lit shots are exposed correctly with accurate colours

When the scene was lit just by the lights from the fans, the iPad Mini struggled. There's very little detail in the dark parts of the picture, it's very noisy and there was a lot of light flares. We also saw the return of the reflection glitch we'd experienced when taking stills - it's one that's also present on the iPad 4 and iPhone 5, so is most likely caused by the plastic covering the lens.

Apple iPad Mini sample shot low light (video still)

Odd light reflections and a lack of detail prove the iPad Mini isn't suited to low-light video

There's also a FaceTime HD Camera built into the front bezel for video calling, which shoots 720p video. However, as with most tablets, you shouldn’t plan on leaving your digital camera at home if you want high-quality images or video.

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