iPad mini 2 with Retina display review

A great tablet that still costs a little too much

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The iPad mini 2 won't be a surprise to anyone running a current iPhone or iPad, bringing with it the latest version of Apple's iOS.

But beyond the new features we're happy to report the iPad mini 2 is nice and fast, despite being a touch slower when it comes to CPU performance compared with the iPad Air.

We're getting to a point where describing a smartphone or tablet as quick under the finger is pointless – once you reach a certain point there's not a lot more speed to be gained.

Even dual-core phones were more than acceptable, so why make a point of highlighting the speed of the new iPad?

iPad Mini 2 review

Well, it's just virtually flawless through all kinds of tasks. A millisecond faster from a finger press might not seem like much, but once you do a hundred or a thousand of them in a day, and then go back to the previous iPad mini, you'll realise that there's a real difference in the operation.

The iPad mini 2 is slightly behind the iPad Air in benchmarking terms, but leagues ahead of the Nexus 7, scoring 2,220 on the GeekBench 3 "real world" testing compared to the Tegra 3-powered Google device, which managed just 1,800.

However, Apple's claims of total speed domination don't appear to be completely founded, as the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, was marginally faster in our tests.

The two both performed amazingly well, but it's interesting to note that in performance terms, Apple can't justify the improvement as a reason for a higher cost.

iOS 7: an all new face

Like it or loathe it, the all-new iOS 7 is still a real step forward for a company that desperately needed to refresh its offering in the face of stiff competition from Android.

The new flatter interface takes away the pointless need to pretend all apps are real-life objects just to integrate them into people's lives - users know that pressing the Photos app will take them there, no matter the result.

Like most popular platforms that get upgraded, there's been a large amount of flack coming Apple's way for iOS 7, with juddery icons shown when returning to the homescreen.

iPad Mini 2 review

This can be negated by heading into Settings, General, Accessibility and then toggling "Reduce Motion" to On, which creates a much nicer fade transition.

Things like the Parallax effect, which moves the image in the background to create a 3D effect, are much more stable on the iPad mini 2.

­­And while this was annoyingly unpredictable on the iPhone 5S, on the mini 2 it's much better and we wouldn't advise you turn it off, unlike on other Apple devices.

It doesn't even have a huge effect on battery life, which is impressive in itself.

The rest of the interface is easy to use and makes sense for the most part. One of the newer features of iOS 7 is the notification bar, found by dragging from the top of the tablet. This gives access to updates, calendar entries and missed messages.

It's also one of the weaker parts of the OS, as it always starts on the calendar, which doesn't often give a lot of useful information.

The "Missed" section is often also sparsely populated - we'd rather this prime space was better used by Apple.

However, there are a lot of other areas in which the Cupertino brand has made strides in terms of improving the user experience.

iPad Mini 2 review

For instance, swiping upwards with all five fingers (or double tapping the home button) will lead to the multi-tasking pane, which shows all of your apps in large thumbnails.

This is an excellent interface, although perhaps a little large, and you can swiftly jump between apps or flick a thumbnail upwards to end it.

We would like to give a special mention to the "five finger pinch" if you've not used it before on previous iPads. Make sure it's enabled in Settings > General, and then simply pinch in with four or five fingers in any app to return to the home screen. You'll be doing it on your phone before you know it, such is its simplicity.

The new Control Center is something worth highlighting too - drag up from the bottom of the screen and you can control music, brightness, turn on Wi-Fi and loads more.

We would have thought that most people know all about this feature, but the number of iOS 7 users who get their minds blown when we show them that this exists means it's worth highlighting.

It's annoying you can't alter the toggles here, and long-pressing them doesn't move into the menu to get a more advanced look at things like Wi-Fi. Apple has clearly written the architecture to handle other toggles (like on most Android phones) so why it's not here is unclear.

Well, it is: Apple doesn't like the option of too much customization to keep things simple. For some that's amazing, for others it feels locked down and far too authoritarian on a device they've paid a lot of money for.

There are tonnes of nuances to Apples UI that we'd like to laud here, but we invite you to go and use it for yourself, as despite there being no tutorial, there's very little here that the novice user won't be able to pick up.


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