The battery life of the iPad Mini 4 is very good. Very good indeed – but that's hardly going to come as a surprise to anyone who's used another cuttingedge tablet. They're all really good at lasting hours and hours, given that for much of the time we leave them in sleep mode in bags or on sofas.
The 10 hours quoted seems to hold up with the iPad Mini 4, as even though I didn't have to go on any long-haul flights which could have properly tested the tablet, I could go at least seven days without charging the Mini 4 before even having to think about finding a power source.
The battery test we conduct (where a 90-minute Full HD video is run at maximum brightness from full charge) yielded precisely the results we expected, with the power pack only dropping by 20% to 80%. That's similar to the iPad Air 2, although that was a little less efficient with media playback, with the battery dropping to 77% in the same test.
The slightly stronger performance from the Mini 4's battery might be down to the lower-spec processor, but the difference between the two is negligible, especially in real-world use.
The good news is that playing around with the tablet doesn't cause the battery to drop dramatically. The screen can be up at full brightness and you won't get the scary drops in power that you'll see on phones, even with the data connection on.
At half brightness, which is more around where you're likely to keep it, the iPad Mini 4 can keep chugging along for hours on end; 45 minutes of web browsing over Wi-Fi saw a drop of 6% for example. Gaming hits it harder, especially more demanding titles, but for anything short of a long-haul flight it should still have enough juice to see you through.
The iPad Mini 4 doesn't even seem to get that warm when pushed a little harder, which again has a positive effect on battery life. Overall, a tick from me.
The camera on the iPad Mini 4 is predictably the 8MP camera we saw on the iPad Air 2, back again – there's no need for it, of course, given that this is a tablet and therefore should never be used as a main snapper, but hey... there we go.
I wrote in the iPad Mini 3 review that taking a tablet to an event such as a wedding to capture images is never acceptable. And since then I've actually seen someone do just that. It made me sad.
That said, I don't think Apple should ditch the camera – it has the potential to be a really useful tool when you add in the myriad apps that can do video analysis.
For instance, runners can be monitored by coaches and then have their performance slowed down and checked out. The same with golf, tennis, swimming – basically anything that we couldn't easily see in slow motion before but can now.
To that end, it's brilliant to see the slow motion effects being used here – you can record 120fps at 720p HD footage to get a really nice slow-down effect. It's smooth, and looks really clear on the larger (than the iPhone's) screen, and could be a real winner for people looking to use the Mini 4 for that purpose.
That said, the iPad Pro offers a much better way of doing this, and packs in far more raw power. It's up to you how you use it, and what size you want, but the Apple Pencil and larger screen mean that sports coaching, to stick with that example, is probably better served by the newer model.
Using the camera on the iPad Mini 4 is simplicity itself, which is what you'd expect from a tablet photography app. The options are few, with the ability to turn on HDR mode pretty much the most advanced thing on offer, and the interface is kept nice and simple.
The time-lapse function is a good thing to see again – you'll be able to shoot over longer durations thanks to the better battery life, and it's another feature that helps to make the case for the camera actually existing on the iPad Mini 4.
Just don't take this to a wedding, please.