iPad mini 2 with Retina display review

A great tablet that still costs a little too much

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The battery on the iPad mini 2 is 50% bigger than its predecessor, but even still we were rather worried about how the new iPad mini would fare when it has to power more pixels and a much stronger engine.

In reality, there's not a lot to worry about. Running our looped video battery test on both the iPad mini and mini 2 (with iOS 7.0.4 on board and all displays corrected to the same lumen output) showed only a 3% difference in the battery drain, although the original device did fare slightly better.

This isn't surprising though, as pixel driving is one of the major reasons for battery depletion, along with the screen brightness.

It's interesting to note that the iPad mini 2 can run to a higher brightness than the iPad Air, although the larger device was better than both of its smaller variants, coming in with a 4% better score than the new Retina iPad mini.

iPad Mini 2 review

However, and this is important for those trying to decide between the iPad mini 2 and the Google Nexus 7: it appears that having fewer pixels is kinder to the tablet, showing an almost 33% improvement for the Google tablet in battery performance over our video test.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX was surprisingly similar in battery life to the mini 2, coming in at only 3% better power management in the same test, which is close to negligible when you'll be using your tablet for a variety of tasks.

In general use we didn't see as much of a problem – there was certainly no instance of battery draining rapidly as we've seen on other tablets in this smaller category.

You can do a good portion of email reading, watching a TV show and playing a couple of higher-res games before you hit 80% battery life, which is more than adequate in our eyes.

This really equates to a device that you only need to charge every three days, even with the added bonus of it being so portable, and for a tablet that's easily enough.

Apps and connectivity

The Wi-Fi performance of the iPad mini 2 is really rather good thanks in no small part to the addition of the MiMo technology (Multiple in, Multiple out) that uses a load more antennas to give a really strong and stable connection to your router.

We tested this against the iPad mini, and close to the router speeds were relatively similar. However, as we moved further away things started to drop quickly on the original smaller iPad, where the new Retina-shod version managed to hold on more than admirably.

It's not so much that you need to think of the new tech as offering faster speeds, but if you're in a house that struggles to get Wi-Fi signal to the outlying rooms, this iPad will certainly help there.

4G bands has also been supercharged in the same way as we saw on the iPad Air, and and low power Bluetooth is also on board as well, making it an incredibly well-connected device.


Apple has thrown on reams of free software with the iPad mini 2 (and other new iOS 7 devices too), so you now get access to the likes of Pages, Numbers, Keynote from the iWork tribe as well as iPhoto, iMovie and Garageband for free.

These are incredibly powerful tools for what is still essentially a cut-down mobile device – we can't say that we'd recommend using them regularly without a keyboard (in the case of iWork) but elements such as iPhoto and Garageband really give you the chance to express yourself fluidly.

iPad Mini 2 review

When you consider that the iPad mini 2 will be appearing under the Christmas tree for a few lucky (and wealthy) people, having software right out of the box (well, you do have to download it actually, and it's a fairly hefty download) is a big plus for a shiny new toy.

However, it's worth noting that on the smaller iPad screen it's not as pleasurable to use things like the Garageband app when you want to be precise in your chord strumming or drumming – the larger iPad Air is more adept here.

That said, the portability of the mini 2, despite not being that far ahead of the slimmed down iPad Air, is a real help when you want to be creative on the go.

iPad Mini 2 review

On top of that, we still feel the need to laud the Apple App Store for its ability to offer the best apps around. We're talking about things like BBC iPlayer and Sky Go, both of which offer improved user interfaces and allowed downloads first before the Android hop came.

The gap between Apple and Google's app portals is narrowing, but there's no doubt that users will still feel far more secure in the app experience they'll get on an Apple tablet compared to an Android one for now, and that's a big reason to purchase.

Maps should also gain something of a special mention, as while it was a PR disaster for Apple, it's slowly clawing its way back to usable thanks to constant upgrades.


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