Apple devices have historically had issues with battery life, but in recent years the iRange has been stepped up in terms of power performance, and the iPad mini is following in that trend.
The battery life was a hot topic at launch, as many suspected that the lack of a high resolution screen was to help manage the power consumption as much as give Apple the specs for the iPad mini 2 next year. In practice this seems to have worked, as the battery life is pretty darn low.
We tested two usage scenarios: one with full brightness, high power apps running constantly and movies being played over and over, with downloads running in the background. In this case the iPad mini managed to last nearly six hours, which was more than acceptable in our eyes.
In low power mode it was a whole different case. Powering the display right down to the minimum brightness, keeping it turned off and locked and jumping onto Airplane mode from time to time led to an astonishingly low battery consumption, with the unit lasting well over two days with 50% still remaining (on the Wi-Fi only version).
Given that the device will mostly be in the bag or pocket (at a stretch) we can see you'll only need to keep the charger handy every two or three days to keep things juiced - barring a marathon gaming session or email reply storm.
In short, the battery life won't ever give you any nasty surprises on the Wi-Fi version - while we haven't tested the LTE option as yet in our time with other iPads rocking the cellular signal there wasn't a huge amount of power consumption difference, so we're pretty hopeful the same will be true of the smaller-screened iPad mini.
The iPad mini's two specifications, 3G and Wi-Fi only, and they differ quite a lot in terms of what's on board. The latter is pretty sparse, with only dual-channel Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 on board. We say 'only', but in truth that's quite a decent option for the things you'll want to do with it.
The former has everything under the sun: most LTE bands, DC-HSPA for sub 4G speeds that still impress, GPS and GLONASS for on the go mapping (providing you get the courage to do use such a function with Apple Maps).
The Bluetooth 4.0 integration is one that's impressed us over time, as it means low power sensors (such as those in healthcare or fitness) can be used with the more portable tablet, which will be great news for doctors who can't convince their patients to buy an iPhone or lug around a larger tablet.
We do have a slight problem with the Bluetooth connection to headphones - weirdly whenever connecting up wirelessly the sound would fall out of sync, before locking back into step with the video in a few seconds. However, every new chapter saw the problem happening again, which was really, really irritating when the same headphones showed no issue on the Nexus 10 tablet.
There are other devices that have the same functionality, of course, but Apple always likes to put in the minimum amount of technology when designing devices, so this shows it really believes in the technology.
The GeekBench score is what we usually use to tell if any new Apple product is up to much, and you'll be glad to know that it's… exactly as powerful as the iPad 2 and the iPad 3.
The latter isn't really a fair test as it's got a much improved GPU running the show to help power all those pixels, but it shows that in terms of CPU grunt there's not a lot to worry about here.
However, it is under half as powerful as the new iPad 4, which is able to ripple through web pages and apps in a much shorter time… Apple always gives you something to update to, right?