iPad mini 2 review

A great tablet that still costs a little too much

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Google Nexus 7

Nexus 7 2013

The Google Nexus 7 was probably the biggest rival in the small tablet category to Apple's iPad mini 2, though it's now been discontinued, making it trickier to get hold of.

It has similar vertical dimensions, but runs with a much thinner screen to allow for a 16:9 screen ratio.

This has both positive and negative points to it: on the one hand, the thinner dimensions make it much easier to hold the Nexus 7 in a single palm, and even two handed it feels great.

However, as soon as we get to web browsing on it, we miss the larger expanse of the iPad mini 2's screen, thanks to the extra width that 0.9-inches gives us. It doesn't sound like much, but it makes a big difference.

The screen technology on the iPad is a little bit higher-res than the Nexus 7 can offer, although in day to day use you won't really see the difference in sharpness given both are able to pump out over 1080p resolution, which is more than enough.

Color reproduction is a little lower on the Nexus 7, which can look a little washed out at times, but for the price, we can't say we're too upset.

And that's where the Nexus 7 wins in the biggest way: the iPad mini 2 is nearly twice as expensive as Google's offering at the 32GB size (which is the minimum we think you should consider) and yet doesn't offer twice the performance.

The iPad mini 2 is faster, has a better design and a richer and more robust apps catalog, but when it comes to price Google has streaked ahead.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

Kindle Fire HDX

Talking of price: as long as you're willing to put up with lock screen ads, Amazon's new tablet is actually a little cheaper than Google's for the 32GB option.

It's got a lot of positives over the iPad mini 2 as well, thanks to a slightly more powerful chipset in the Snapdragon 800 – we were surprised that the much-touted A7 chip wasn't miles ahead in the speed stakes on our Geekbench testing.

It's slightly better on battery too, although not by much, but it does have an improved screen. Amazon told us that this was because it believes it's managed to get to the highest level of sharpness needed – we've heard that before from companies that have then gone and unleashed a higher-res model months later, but at least the screen tech has been improved on the HDX for more realistic colors.

However, for all the glitz and glorious speeds of the HDX, it still has a few foibles: the interface is very simplistic, which won't appeal to many; it also manages the impressive feat of moving from too simple to hard to navigate at times, something Apple doesn't have to worry about.

There are much fewer apps as well, thanks to Amazon curating everything on its own store – this will improve over time, but there's no doubt Google and Apple are light years ahead in this key area.

LG G Pad 8.3

LG G Pad 8 3

LG has made the tablet which takes the design fight to Apple in the most believable way. Managing to stuff in a larger screen means it's actually negating the problem of closed-in web browsing, and it does so in an attractive aluminum shell.

Where it falls down though is on the main things we need it to be great at: speed and battery life. The former isn't as much of an issue as at least LG has optimized things in a way that the Snapdragon 600 processor doesn't leave us wanting more too often, but it's certainly not market leading.

The battery needs to be better though. Lasting only a day or so in most scenarios isn't going to be good enough for the on-the-go tablet user, so that will put off a fair few buyers choosing between this and the iPad mini.

But LG has come out with a tablet that belies its lower-spec innards and offers genuinely useful options with things like Q Slide to hide commonly used apps until needed, and Q Pair to help your phone and tablet interact more readily.

It's ideas like that which Apple should be aping - but for now, we'll just say that the G Pad is a really valid choice if you want a stylish Android tablet.

iPad Air

iPad Air

Strangely, Apple has made the biggest competitor to the iPad mini. You could argue that having two strong contenders and mostly just altering the screen size makes sense from a business perspective, but in reality the upgraded design of the Air starts to squeeze the relevance of the mini 2.

For not a lot more cash you can have the larger screen, which allows better typing, easier interaction with loads of apps and a longer-lasting battery.

You do lose a touch of screen sharpness and portability, but such is the lightness of the Air that we can't really call it non-portable in any way. It sits nicely in most bags and just keeps on chugging in terms of battery life.

Apple really needed to keep the price point the same for the iPad mini 2 to differentiate better between these two products, because as it stands unless someone really had a problem with the larger screen we'd say that they should definitely check out the Air first - after all, not much money for a 1.8-inch jump in screen size is nothing to be sniffed at.

If money is no issue there's also the newer iPad Air 2 of course. It's significantly more expensive than the iPad mini 2, but packs in more power, a bigger screen and Touch ID.

iPad mini 3

iPad mini 3

Apple has since followed the iPad mini 2 up with the iPad mini 3, but while the mini 2 was a huge jump up from the original iPad mini, you might be hard pushed to see many changes in the mini 3.

The specs are identical, as is the design, all that's really changed is that the iPad mini 3 has Touch ID, a feature which was curiously missing from the mini 2. It's also available in gold if you like that sort of thing.

Otherwise this is basically exactly the same tablet as the iPad mini 2. Now in one sense that's not so bad. The iPad mini 2 is still a brilliant slate and nothing about it was in desperate need of attention.

But it does mean that it's fallen even further behind the larger Air range, as while the iPad Air 2 got a processor upgrade the iPad mini 3 didn't.

It's also hard to justify the extra money that it costs, because with prices starting at £319 ($399, AU$499) it's far more expensive than its older sibling and all you really get for your extra money is a fingerprint scanner. A really good fingerprint scanner, but still.

The only other real reason to opt for this over the iPad mini 2 is that it's available with up to 128GB of storage, while the iPad mini 2 now tops out at 32GB, but of course you'll pay a premium for all that extra.


Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity128 GB
Processor ManufacturerApple
Graphics Controller ManufacturerImagination Technologies
Graphics Controller ModelPowerVR G6430
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Maximum Battery Run Time10 Hour
Backlight TechnologyLED
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyUMTS, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev A, EDGE
Product FamilyiPad mini
Cellular Network SupportedGSM, CDMA2000
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformiOS
Operating SystemiOS 7
Brand NameApple
Form FactorSlate
Processor Speed1.30 GHz
Processor TypeA7
Screen Size20.1 cm (7.9")
Screen Resolution2048 x 1536
Weight (Approximate)340.2 g
Cache4 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyIn-plane Switching (IPS) Technology, Retina Display
WWAN SupportedYes
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Cellular Generation3G
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Height199.9 mm
Width134.6 mm
Depth7.4 mm
Screen ModeQXGA
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelME840B/A
Product NameiPad mini with Retina Display
Product LineiPad mini
Aspect Ratio4:3
Manufacturer Part NumberME840B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing InformationWe've expanded the definition of mini.

iPad mini was designed to give you nothing less than the full iPad experience. So when we thought about which enhancements to bring to the new iPad mini, there was only one answer:all of them. We packed a Retina display, the A7 chip, the M7 coprocessor, advanced wireless, and more into its small form. It has a huge amount of power and capability, but it's still nice and mini.

Package Contents
  • iPad mini with Retina Display
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • 10W USB Power Adapter
  • Limited Warranty1 Year