iPad mini with Retina show evaluate: nearly as good because the Air, simply smaller

iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

Final yr Apple launched the iPad mini, a second measurement choice for its pill lineup. Along with being, properly, miniature, it featured an exquisite design — so lovely, in truth, that the iPad Air now mimics it. Extra importantly, with a beginning worth of $329, shoppers eventually obtained an iPad at a extra mid-vary worth level. As you possibly can think about, it appealed to people who could not afford the complete-sized mannequin, and it was additionally intriguing for individuals who craved one thing somewhat extra moveable. By the identical token, it was additionally panned by energy customers who thought the mini ought to have the identical excessive-finish specs and Retina show as the ten-inch mannequin. Briefly, Apple had two iPads that have been able to attracting two totally different teams of individuals.

This yr Apple stirred the pot. The new iPad mini not solely options nicer hardware than its predecessor; it is also outfitted with the identical specs as its bigger sibling, the iPad Air. For starters, the 2013 mini provides a Retina show, together with Apple’s prime-of-the-line A7 processor and a bigger battery. However, it additionally comes at a better value. We all know, we all know: It is a premium pill, however is $399 an excessive amount of to pay for a model-new eight-inch slate? Is there anything within the mid-sized pill market that may work at a lower cost? And because the two iPads are not any very comparable, are there any elements to think about outdoors of measurement?

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iPad mini with Retina show evaluation

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iPad mini with Retina show (2013)


  • Beautiful show
  • Strong efficiency
  • Lengthy battery life


  • No Contact ID
  • Comparatively costly


The iPad mini matches the complete-sized iPad Air in show high quality, design and efficiency. Simply be ready to pay greater than you’d have for final yr’s mannequin.


We will clarify the hardware of the brand new iPad mini in a single sentence: It is an iPad Air hit by a shrink ray. In some ways, the brand new mini seems to be a modest, iterative replace. Dive just a little deeper, nevertheless, and the brand new iPad mini represents an obvious shift in Apple’s product technique. How so? To reply this query, let’s return to final yr, when Apple made it clear at its fall occasion that the iPad mini should not be considered a scaled-down iPad. This smaller pill ought to have its very personal character, Apple stated, and must be seen in a special mild than its bigger sibling. It even featured an exquisite design that extra intently resembled an iPhone 5 or fifth-era iPod contact than the fourth-gen iPad, with its chamfered edges and rounded again. Sadly, it did not have a Retina show, nor was it as highly effective as the ten-inch model. It was an amazing pill when it comes to measurement and portability, however it appeared like Apple was reserving its newest and biggest options for the complete-sized mannequin.

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iPad mini with Retina show vs. the iPad mini (2012)

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iPad mini with Retina show vs. the iPad Air

This yr is a unique story. Not solely did the iPad (now referred to as the iPad Air) get redesigned to look identical to the mini, nevertheless it additionally gives nearly the identical specs because the smaller mannequin. In lots of respects, the smaller pill is now a scaled-down iPad Air — exactly what Apple appeared to be avoiding final yr when it debuted the unique mini with inferior specs. Now, the corporate needs its tablets to be equal in the whole lot however display measurement, so you do not have to really feel such as you’re making any sacrifices by selecting the mini. (We additionally can not help however marvel if Apple plans to increase this philosophy to iPhones by providing multiple measurement.)

iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

Properly, they’re virtually equal; you’ll discover a number of minor variations. For example, the Air’s battery is bigger, primarily because of its greater measurement, however Apple’s 10-hour battery life claims apply to each regardless. The mini’s processor additionally does not run fairly as quick, however we’ll talk about that extra in only a second. What’s extra, tlisted here are additionally a couple of variations between this yr’s mini and final yr’s mannequin, certainly one of which is measurement and weight. At 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm, the 2013 version presents the identical width and size as the unique, however it’s zero.3mm thicker. And whereas the iPad Air is far lighter than its predecessor, the brand new mini positive aspects 29 grams from final yr’s mannequin. This will appear odd if little else has modified underneath the hood, however the brand new mini encompasses a a lot bigger battery (23.8Whr versus sixteen.3Whr), which was in all probability essential to compensate for that energy-draining Retina show. Do not let the size idiot you, although — until you are enjoying with them aspect by aspect and actively in search of variations, you will not be capable of inform.

The unibody aluminum enclosure has additionally remained unchanged, which suggests it is as solidly constructed as ever. That stated, we have observed that the again does not warmth up as a lot throughout gaming and different actions because it used to. Meaning the mini is much more snug to make use of — and it was fairly straightforward to deal with even the primary time round. It is value noting that we additionally observed this drop-off in warmth dissipation on the iPad Air, so this may increasingly very properly be a by-product of the A7 chip that is current in each units.

iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

Beneath the hood, WiFi efficiency has been dramatically improved because of a number of-enter a number of-output (MIMO) know-how, which is a flowery means of claiming that your WiFi can now reap the benefits of two antennas as an alternative of 1. The theoretical max is 300 Mbps, though few individuals may have the means or have to benefit from speeds that quick. This tech is shortly turning into fashionable in flagship telephones and tablets, so it is good to see Apple undertake it now. The corporate additionally inserted a second mic for noise canceling, which is right for movies, FaceTime calls and Siri voice recognition.

The evaluate unit offered to us by Apple was a mobile mannequin, which options a lot better compatibility with international LTE suppliers than the unique. In years previous, iOS units have been unfold out throughout a number of totally different SKUs, every one carrying a selected set of frequencies to make sure compatibility with a whole lot of operators across the globe. That is not the case, as Apple now makes use of a baseband that gives help for 14 LTE bands (1/2/three/four/5/7/eight/thirteen/17/18/19/20/25/26), DC-HSPA+, UMTS, GSM/EDGE, CDMA and EVDO (Rev. A and B). In the event you’re unsure of a service’s community settings, do not fret: The mini will detect which community you are utilizing and obtain the right settings for you.

iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

Identical to with the iPad Air, the house button seems the identical as on earlier fashions. Usually this won’t be value mentioning, however on this case it is vital as a result of it means Contact ID (aka the iPhone fingerprint sensor) stays unique to the iPhone 5s. Whether or not this is because of provide constraints or it is one thing Apple does not assume iPad customers need, the corporate is not saying. Nonetheless, we have loved Contact ID on the 5s and may’t wait to see it will definitely carried out in iPads.


iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

Excessive-decision shows are a must have on premium tablets today — since cheap units just like the Nexus 7 supply lovely panels with 1,920 x 1,200 decision, we’re comfortable to see the mini’s display get a a lot-wanted bump to Retina standing. By the numbers, the mini encompasses a 2,048 x 1,536 show and boasts a pixel density of 324 pixels per inch. As compared, that is twice the density of the unique mini’s 163 ppi. What’s extra, the brand new mini has the identical actual decision because the iPad Air, however as a result of the Air’s display is bigger, it has a decrease pixel density of 264 ppi. The mini additionally matches the Nexus 7’s pixel density, even with a display that is an inch bigger.

Despite the fact that numbers do not all the time match up with consumer expertise, they’re fairly telling right here. The 1,024 x 768 show on final yr’s mannequin wasn’t horrible, however our drained eyes have been craving for a nicer expertise for consuming photographs and video, and studying textual content. As you may anticipate, doubling up the pixel density is just not solely simply noticeable; it is also refreshing. Excessive-definition movies look superb; fonts have by no means seemed sharper; and pictures that present unbelievable particulars on the brand new mini merely look fuzzy on the previous mini. There’s little or no distinction in shade copy nevertheless, however then once more, it was already fairly good on final yr’s mannequin, so we’re fairly proud of the outcomes. All informed, this is likely one of the greatest shows we have seen on a pill.

Software program

Although our unit got here with iOS 7.zero.three preloaded, Apple pushed an replace to model 7.zero.four whereas we have been engaged on this evaluate. Since it is a easy bug repair, the consumer interface stays unchanged. Generally, although, you will discover slight enhancements within the general consumer expertise because of the quicker A7 chip and M7 coprocessor. We’ll talk about these factors later within the evaluation.

Digital camera

iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

Imaging is one other space the place the brand new iPad mini and the iPad Air share similar elements. Heck, the 5-megapixel f/2.four rear-dealing with digital camera was used on the earlier-gen mini as nicely, which tells us that Apple does not consider individuals care about taking skilled-high quality photographs with their tablets. Even when individuals aren’t swapping out their level-and-shoots in favor of a pill, nevertheless, Apple has a knack for making its image-taking expertise a comparatively stress-free one. No worrying about tweaking guide settings or ready a number of seconds to take the shot; the consumer interface is straightforward and the shutter lag is sort of minimal in comparison with most different units. Most significantly, the outcomes are surprisingly good for a pill — footage are fairly detailed with correct colours, they usually look unbelievable on the mini’s Retina show. The digital camera does not deal with low-mild circumstances notably nicely, and there isn’t any LED flash to rescue you both, however nonetheless, it meets our expectations.

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iPad mini with Retina show pattern photographs

Movies are recorded at 1080p decision and a bit fee of 17.three Mbps, and as we anticipated, the footage seems to be fairly good. Shifting objects are completely clean and the colours are pretty correct. Audio was a combined bag, as a result of the secondary mic for noise cancellation works nicely for FaceTime video chatting. In different phrases, our selfie movies sounded nice, however my voice wasn’t very loud when taking residence films of my youngsters or anything. The FaceTime digital camera, which data at 720p and 10.6 Mbps, additionally fares fairly properly (for a entrance-dealing with digital camera, anyway). Nonetheless, there have been occasions my hand by accident coated the mic and muffled my voice.

Efficiency and battery life

iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

Apple’s new A7 chip first debuted on the iPhone 5s and shortly confirmed up on the iPad Air too, albeit with a barely greater clock velocity (the Air runs at 1.4GHz; the 5s, 1.3GHz). Now the identical twin-core sixty four-bit chip is getting used within the new mini, nevertheless it has the identical 1.3GHz clock velocity because the 5s. Sure, this implies the benchmarks will not be fairly as quick on the mini as they’re on the Air (see the desk under), however we’re not taking a look at a drastic distinction. Actually, the one occasions you may discover a discrepancy is in aspect-by-aspect comparisons, and even then the efficiency hole is quite delicate.

Extra importantly, the variations between this mini and final yr’s mannequin are literally fairly vital, because the pill made a two-era leap from Apple’s A5 chip to the A7. Every thing masses quicker; there are fewer body skips when enjoying video games; and we had an amazing expertise with each 32- and sixty four-bit apps. And that if you do not assume there’s sufficient of a distinction between the A5 and A7, we advocate you play with an unique mini for a couple of minutes after which repeat the identical duties on the brand new model. The development is instantly apparent. On each units, we performed a few of the normal video games — Infinity Blade III and Asphalt eight come to thoughts — and new video games like Epoch 2 and Lego LOTR, and it is actually arduous to return.

iPad mini (2013) iPad Air iPad mini (2012) iPhone 5s SunSpider (ms) 423 388 1,651 418 GXFBench 2.7 T-Rex HD Offscreen (fps) 25 25 CNR 23 Basemark X (onscreen / offscreen) thirteen.2/15.6 thirteen.three / 15.5 eleven.zero/CNR 27.7/sixteen.7 3DMark Ice Storm Limitless 14,171 14,631 2,392 thirteen,729 Geekbench three.zero (multi-thread) 2,509 2,682 496 2,562 Linpack 870 950 116 795 SunSpider: decrease scores are higher. Linpack scores taken on common. CNR = couldn’t run

As you’ll be able to see, the brand new mini ranks simply barely under the Air because of the decrease clock velocity, however once more, until you are enjoying graphics-intensive video games, you will not have a lot of a cause to select the bigger pill over the smaller one. The variations between the 2 minis, then again, are merely astounding; the A5 on the unique does not come near any of the A7 units we have examined.

A lot to our satisfaction, Apple’s official battery life claims on the iPad Air seemed to be fairly conservative, and fortuitously the iPad mini additionally beats the corporate’s estimates. Each units are presupposed to get 10 hours of video playback, and in our normal video rundown check, which consists of enjoying a 720p film on an everlasting loop with LTE related and at a hard and fast show brightness, our unit managed eleven hours and fifty five minutes of life. This is not fairly nearly as good because the Air’s thirteen:forty five or the unique mini’s 12:forty three, however when you think about we achieved that latter end result on the WiFi-solely mannequin, the hole in battery life is not actually shocking: LTE naturally causes a small dip in battery life. When all was stated and carried out, we have been capable of get by way of virtually two days of regular use, together with net shopping, e mail, social media, video playback and the occasional recreation.

Pill Battery Life iPad mini with Retina show eleven:fifty five (LTE) Microsoft Floor 2 14:22 Apple iPad Air 12:forty five (LTE) Apple iPad mini 12:forty three (WiFi) Apple iPad (late 2012) eleven:08 (WiFi) Apple iPad 2 10:26 ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime 10:17 Apple iPad (2012) 9:fifty two (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE) Nexus 7 (2012) 9:forty nine Microsoft Floor for Home windows RT 9:36 Apple iPad 9:33 ASUS Transformer Prime Infinity TF700 9:25 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 eight:fifty six Sony Xperia Pill Z eight:forty Hisense Sero 7 Professional eight:28 Galaxy Tab 2 7.zero 7:38 HP Slate 7 7:36 LG G Pad eight.three 7:19 Samsung Galaxy Notice eight.zero 7:18 Nexus 7 (2013) 7:15 RIM BlackBerry PlayBook 7:01

Configuration choices and the competitors

iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

The brand new iPad mini with Retina show is available in “area grey” and silver colours, each of which look the identical as on the Air. You will additionally be capable of select considered one of 4 storage choices starting from 16GB to 128GB (the latter choice is new for the iPad mini, because the unique maxed out at 64GB). Lastly, there’s additionally the matter of choosing WiFi-solely or WiFi+Mobile. The mobile mannequin is decked out identical to the Air, combining GSM/EDGE, UMTS/DC-HSPA+, EVDO and 14-band LTE and overlaying most networks around the globe. The least-costly WiFi-solely mannequin is $399, whereas its mobile-enabled counterpart begins at $529; if you need extra storage, you will have to pay an additional $one hundred for every greater tier, which suggests the 128GB WiFi-solely model goes for $699 and WiFi+Mobile is $829.

Sadly, the brand new mini prices $70 greater than final yr’s mannequin on the time of launch, which is a head-scratching transfer. Positive, it is a nicer pill than the earlier mannequin, however all subsequent-gen iOS merchandise are nicer than their predecessors, and infrequently have we seen a worth improve related to these enhancements. In any case, even after the complete-sized iPad acquired a Retina show, the beginning worth stayed the identical at $499.

Those that want a bigger display will nonetheless get an incredible expertise with the iPad Air, which options the identical configuration choices because the mini and a 9.7-inch show beginning at $499 for the baseline mannequin. Should you do not care to spend additional for the highest-of-the-line iPads, Apple now gives the unique 7.9-inch iPad mini for $299, a $30 low cost from its launch worth. The 16GB iPad 2 can also be nonetheless out there for $399 (WiFi-solely) and $529 (WiFi+Mobile).

There are additionally loads of prospects on the Android aspect, particularly within the mid-sized class. The Samsung Galaxy Notice eight.zero is on the market for a similar base worth of $399, and it comes with an lively digitizer and S Pen stylus. The LG G Pad eight.three is one other respectable choice for $350. The Google Nexus 7 (2013) is one among our favourite Android tablets and is available in at $229, which is an unimaginable worth for the options it provides; we might say this is likely one of the strongest rivals stepping as much as problem the iPad mini. The Tegra Notice 7 is a nicely-performing Tegra four gaming pill that is launching this week for $199. And let’s not rely Amazon out with the Kindle Hearth HDX line, which begins at $229 for the 7-inch mannequin and $379 for the eight.9-inch. In fact, this additionally signifies that you aren’t getting the identical Google Play entry as different Android units, and it options “Particular Presents” (learn: advertisements).


iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller

In the middle of a yr, the iPad mini has hit puberty, and matured fairly a bit. It is an iterative replace, for positive, however one which makes it vastly higher than the unique. As a result of it now provides a Retina show, quick connectivity and a strong processor, the mini now shares prime-tier product standing with the iPad Air. That is exactly the iPad mini we have been ready for, however it comes with a worth hike of $70 over final yr’s mannequin. Regardless of its wondrous function set, some finances-minded consumers might look towards inexpensive tablets just like the Nexus 7, which additionally provides an excellent show and prime-notch specs, however for considerably much less cash.

However, let’s face it: Loads of potential consumers will not have an issue paying up, particularly these of you who’ve been eagerly awaiting a mini with Retina show. And we will not blame anybody for being tempted, both, as a result of the mini appears to have lastly reached its full potential. We are saying, two excessive-high quality iPads are higher than one, even when it does make it more durable to determine which to purchase.

Edgar Alvarez contributed to this evaluate.

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