iPad Mini four assessment: An extended wait makes for a potent improve

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

Followers of Apple’s smaller iPad Mini caught a troublesome break final fall when the corporate unveiled its new tablets for the yr. Though Tim Prepare dinner & co. lavished loads of consideration on the quicker, slimmed-down iPad Air 2, the upgraded iPad Mini three was considered a mere afterthought. The record of modifications was so brief, in truth, that a few of us questioned why Apple would introduce a efficiency hole between the Air and Mini strains. Nonetheless extra individuals questioned once they’d get a Mini with sufficient energy to match its bigger sibling. Seems, the reply was “a yr later.” I have been testing the brand new iPad Mini four for over every week now and may say with confidence that is the Mini we should always’ve gotten final yr.

88
Apple

iPad Mini four

Execs

  • Nice, vibrant display
  • iOS 9 is nice for multitasking
  • Strong efficiency
  • Respectable battery life

Cons

  • Rotation lock change is gone
  • Nonetheless much less highly effective than the iPad Air 2
  • Base mannequin solely has 16GB of reminiscence

Abstract

After a yearlong wait, we lastly have a correctly upgraded iPad Mini. Whereas it adopted the iPad Air 2’s tremendous-slim aesthetic and received a equally nice display, the iPad Mini four makes do with Apple’s twin-core A8 chipset. Efficiency is remarkably strong, although, and the smaller battery inside does not do the pill a disservice. Nonetheless, with solely a $one hundred distinction between probably the most primary Mini four and the Air 2, you will need to assume on what measurement pill you possibly can actually match into your life.

Hardware

#fivemin-widget-blogsmith-picture-586506show:none; .cke_show_borders #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-picture-586506, #postcontentcontainer #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-picture-586506width:630px;show:block;

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

Apple’s design staff did a lot of the heavy lifting with the iPad Air 2 and now we’re lastly seeing that modern aesthetic trickle right down to the Mini. The four’s match and end continues to be first-price and, extra importantly, the entire package deal is a few tenth of a pound lighter than final yr’s mannequin. Which may not sound like a dramatic distinction, however if you’re constructing a tool with a much bigger-than-telephone-sized display, each ounce and gram matter. The iPad Air 2 felt virtually unnaturally mild for its measurement, so you’ll be able to think about how mild the even smaller Mini four feels — holding it aloft and watching YouTube movies for hours was none too painful.

The Minis have been by no means precisely tanks, in fact, however this yr’s thinner and lighter mannequin (zero.sixty five pound and 6.1mm, the identical thickness because the Air 2) makes extended, one-handed use a pleasure. The Air-ification of the Mini line additionally signifies that useful rotation-lock change — a part of the iPad’s hardware formulation for years — has been excised. Preserving your display from spinning round now requires you to swipe up the Management Middle and faucet an icon down there. That is a type of little modifications that most individuals will not discover till they begin feeling round for that acquainted nubbin. Regardless of not utilizing it that incessantly, I nonetheless miss having it there.

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

It is easy to think about Apple simply took a shrink ray to an iPad Air 2 and referred to as it a day, however there’s extra happening right here than meets the attention. You see, somewhat than carry over the modified A8X from the Air 2, Apple kitted out the brand new Mini with the identical A8 processor that is at present powering the iPhone 6, albeit besides it is paired with 2GB of RAM as an alternative of 1. I’ve by no means had a lot cause to complain concerning the iPhone 6’s efficiency, and the mixture of that chipset and the additional RAM means the Mini four is, unsurprisingly, a quick performer (extra on that later). My evaluation unit was a 128GB mannequin, though Apple additionally provides 16GB and 64GB choices with costs beginning at $399 for a WiFi-solely configuration. Toss in an up to date eight-megapixel rear digital camera, to not point out quicker 802.11ac WiFi and 20 LTE bands, and we have got a a lot-improved system on our palms.

Show and sound

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

The iPad Air 2 may offer you extra display actual property, however the Mini four wins on pixel density, arms down. Just like the Mini three earlier than it, the most recent era squeezes 326 pixels into every linear inch of the system’s 7.9-inch display, making for crisp textual content and eye-popping visuals. Even higher, Apple lastly removed that tiny hole between the Mini’s show panel and the slate of arsenic-free glass overlaying it; it is all been mixed right into a single, laminated panel.

What seems like an train in LCD display trivia makes for some dramatic modifications: It means much less glare, higher viewing angles and a contact extra crispness. Once we examined the Air 2 and the Mini three, the distinction in shade readability and saturation was fairly pronounced, however that is fortunately now a non-concern. Oh, and a quick apart: Older Minis additionally made a little bit of a hole thunk sound whenever you tapped them a sure means, a problem that is been addressed on the brand new mannequin.

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

For those who’re hell-bent on utilizing the Mini as a media machine, you’ve got in all probability obtained an honest pair of headphones to go together with it. Fortunately, you needn’t fret when you by accident depart them at house: The audio system housed on the Mini’s backside edge are impressively loud for his or her measurement. You will not be capable of fill a room with the mid-heavy sound they churn out, however I found I might depart a video enjoying within the kitchen and nonetheless hear it whereas folding laundry downstairs.

Software program

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

iOS 9 is such an necessary step ahead that we simply revealed a couple of thousand phrases all about it. Assuming you do not have the time to sift via our full evaluation, this is a fast rundown on what iOS 9 means for the brand new Mini. Briefly, Apple’s newest software program replace is concentrated extra on stability and thoughtfulness, utilizing Siri’s new proactive smarts to floor info and apps when you may want them. Throw in loads of neat design modifications — like a revamped app switcher and a implausible “Again” button that allows you to comply with the breadcrumb path of apps you have been simply utilizing — and we have got a extra well put-collectively replace than we initially gave Apple credit score for.

iPads received loads of consideration on this replace, and followers of cellular multitasking must be particularly happy. Contemplate Slide Over, which helps you to swipe open a drawer filled with first-celebration apps that may be opened in a smaller, separate window that takes up a few quarter of the display. By leaping into any of these apps, you are successfully placing the opposite, main software you have been simply utilizing on pause till you are finished texting or checking Apple Information. You’ll be able to go a step additional and drag the road that divides these apps; that resizes each of them till they every take up 50 % of the display. Why hiya, Cut up View. Truthfully, as neat as this trick is, it feels kind of foolish on a display this small. Operating two apps aspect by aspect is sensible on a bigger show — say, on a full-sized Air 2 or an unlimited iPad Professional. Shoehorning two apps onto an eight-inch display can really feel a bit of claustrophobic after some time.

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

Then there’s image-in-image mode, which, sure, is strictly what it feels like. Any time you play a video in Apple’s inventory media participant, you possibly can faucet an icon to shrink it down and stick it in a nook so you will not miss a second of JK Simmons being an epic jerk in Whiplash. Give that small window a fast pinch-zoom and it will roughly double in measurement; the default view on the Mini four is fairly tiny, so you will in all probability spend most of your time on this mode.

Shifting on, the Notes app additionally now helps richer textual content formatting (heck yeah, subheadings) and packs a fairly thorough sketching device for including drawings and diagrams to your textual content. The smaller screens on iPhones make random doodling tough, however that is not an issue with the Mini’s almost eight-inch display. All advised, iOS 9 is a must have obtain, and the Mini four provides it loads of area — and energy — to shine.

Digital camera

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

I will be the primary to confess I typically glare at individuals capturing tab-photographs in public, however the attraction is fairly apparent. For one, it could be the one digital camera people have on them, and everyone knows the adage there. A much bigger display additionally makes it simpler to border photographs, and actually, who amongst us could not stand to be higher at that? What I am saying is that this seemingly foolish behavior is not going anyplace, and the iPad Mini four’s rear-dealing with eight-megapixel digital camera does a high quality job of capturing the world round you.

Pill photographs are hardly excellent, however the Mini four, just like the Air 2 earlier than it, is able to capturing crisp colours and affordable element when the sunshine is true. White stability is usually extra correct now too, which is particularly obvious because the Mini did not get left within the show high quality mud this time. Issues clearly get muddier in dimmer circumstances, however actually, in case you’re utilizing a pill to take pictures in the midst of the night time, you may need to rethink your technique. In the meantime, the entrance-dealing with digital camera is caught at 1.2 megapixels, however it now has an f/2.2 aperture lens to assist suck within the mild bouncing off of your face. Nonetheless, I have never observed a lot of a distinction between this digital camera and the one in final yr’s Mini.

Different modifications embrace the power to shoot in burst mode because of the A8 chipset thrumming away inside, and improved help for HDR pictures and video. The iPad Mini four is not going to be anybody’s first selection for cellular images, however it’s a strong, if unremarkable, performer.

Efficiency and battery life

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

I type of alluded to this earlier, however let’s be clear: The Mini four is not only a shrunken-down Air 2. The distinction within the chipsets powering this stuff is clear in our benchmark exams under, however the Mini four continues to be no slouch in comparison with its extra premium cousin. It is buttery clean as you leap out and in of apps and swipe by way of net pages. The one time I observed the Mini’s A8 chipset struggling was whereas operating two apps in Cut up View, and even then, it was solely once I was making an attempt to fiddle with each concurrently. Whereas I am evaluating the Mini four to different iPads, it is noticeably faster to react than final yr’s Mini. In truth, Apple says the A8’s CPU is 30 % quicker than the Mini three’s A7, and that graphical efficiency is up 60 % from final yr. That helps clarify why Asphalt eight and Trendy Fight 5: Blackout ran like a dream, however I am going to let the numbers do the remainder of the speaking.

iPad Mini four iPad Air 2 iPad Mini three NVIDIA Defend Pill Geekbench three.zero three,236 four,510 2,470 three,423 Basemark X 17,212 29,518 14,839 TBD 3DMark IS Limitless sixteen,291 21,659 14,595 30,970 SunSpider 1.zero (ms) 349 303 439 463 SunSpider: Decrease scores are higher.

So, just about precisely what I anticipated: The Mini four strikes an applicable stability between the Mini three and the Air 2 (which has the sting because of an additional CPU core). Often it performs only a hair higher than final yr’s iPhones too. In fact, horsepower means nothing with out battery energy, and the brand new Mini has that in spades. The standard Apple chorus is that the Mini is rated for about 10 hours of continued use, however which may have been understating issues a bit. In our typical video rundown check (video looping with the display brightness set to 50 %), the Mini four lasted thirteen hours and four minutes earlier than needing an emergency journey to the facility outlet. That is simply in need of the thirteen hours and forty five minutes on final yr’s mannequin, which is not dangerous in any respect contemplating the brand new Mini four truly has a smaller, 5,124mAh battery.

The Mini fared equally properly within the battery check referred to as “dwelling with me.” After pulling it off of the charger at round 7 AM, schlepping to the workplace and utilizing it for emails/studying articles/the occasional recreation, I might often wind up with 10 % remaining once I returned residence at 9 PM.

Pill Battery life iPad Mini four thirteen:04 iPad Air 2 eleven:15 iPad Mini three thirteen:forty five iPad Air thirteen:forty five (LTE) Apple iPad Mini 12:forty three (WiFi) Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10-inch) 12:30 Microsoft Floor three 9:eleven Galaxy Tab S2 7:30

The competitors

In the event you’re out there for a glossy pill, think about Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 (beginning at $four hundred for the eight-inch mannequin). Whereas it lacks the kooky fashion of its instant predecessor, the ten-inch display is one to behold — it’s Samsung in any case — and it is solely 5.6mm thick. The downgraded battery may sting, although: It solely managed 7.5 hours in our checks, down from 12.5 hours for the earlier-gen mannequin. Itching for one thing extra moveable? ASUS simply launched its eight-inch ZenPad S, a $200 Android slate with a waistline just like the Mini four’s and a 2,048 x 1,536 show, in addition. Then there’s the iPad Air 2 itself, which continues to be probably the most highly effective pill in Apple’s roster. It is extremely glossy and might be held one-handed for longer than you may anticipate, however its measurement means it is simply not going to suit into some life. The factor is, it is virtually value making an attempt to see if the dimensions can be just right for you; costs for the Air 2 begin at $499, and gross sales or shopping for refurbished can convey that base worth down even decrease.

Wrap-up

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

Some may gripe concerning the Mini four’s yr-previous internals, however after my week of testing, I really feel assured saying that it does not matter a lot. The pill’s complete package deal, from the nonetheless-snappy A8 chipset to the gorgeous and virtually-pocketable display, to the extremely glossy chassis, makes it worthy of your consideration. For those who’re looking out for an excellent-moveable pill with robust fundamentals and nice app help, you in all probability will not discover a contender higher than this one. That stated, should you can match a much bigger pill into your life, you may simply improve into an iPad Air 2 for not far more cash and get much more processing energy.

Excellent news, Engadget peoples! We’re making a single login system for each our product database and feedback. The primary a part of that transition is a brand new commenting system, launching on September twenty eighth. You’ll get to maintain your present consumer identify (so long as it doesn’t include invalid characters, during which case you’ll need to undergo a couple of additional steps to make the switch), and all of your previous feedback will ultimately (not instantly) migrate with you.

Featured Tales
Sponsored Content material

Examine Your Devices

iPad Mini 4 review: A long wait makes for a potent upgrade

Immediately examine merchandise aspect by aspect and see which one is greatest for you!

Attempt it now →