iPad mini review

The original iPad mini is still good, apart from that screen

iPad Mini review
The definitive iPad mini review

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We often struggle to sum up an Apple product. We can ask the same question of the iPad mini that we've asked nearly every mobile device that Apple has made: How much more should consumers pay for a well thought out OS and more impressive design over the competition?

Usually, the answer is 'not as much as is being charged'... but in that case that's not as true as normal. Yes, the iPad mini is once again too expensive - why is it 30% more for a device with lower specs than the competition when Apple has other devices with more grunt, and when Apple is making at least 43% profit on each device, according to iSuppli?

And it's especially irksome that Apple has pointed out it's making a lower profit margin on this device - rather than make us say 'well done' for taking the hit to enter a new market, it just makes us think that the company could charge less for other devices and stop its cash mountain threatening to topple over and kill Apple employees.

It is worth noting here that the likes of Google and Amazon, while both haven't explicitly said so, are making no money or even using the likes of the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD as loss leaders to claw back money on apps and content, a strategy Apple has no intention of deploying, but may give consumers pause on the high street.

iPad mini review

But forget all that for a second, and focus on this: the iPad mini is the best iPad Apple has created to date. We fell in love with its design, the way the screen seems so much more expansive than the Google or Amazon competition or just the way the smooth aluminium feels in the hand.

We liked

We liked a lot. A whole lot on the iPad mini, and although the price is a little high (even since it's dropped) Apple has just about justified it with the way the device sits in the hand.

The larger screen might not fit fully in a single palm, but from the smooth back to the Smart Covers designed specifically for the model, we're fans - pure and simple.

The speed of the processor is adequate for all tasks, the UI is actually better-engineered for this 7.9-inch screen compared to its bigger brother and we're chirpy indeed about the battery prowess through harder use.

We disliked

The lack of a Retina display is so, so frustrating as that's the killer feature (along with, perhaps, a slightly faster processor) that would have meant we gave the iPad mini our first five star tablet review. It's that good. But the screen is too fuzzy at times compared to the likes of the new iPad or iPhone 5 to consider it a dazzling display, and that's a real shame.

The low-power GPU is also sadly lacking, even for the price point, and while we've long given up on looking for expandable storage or a removable battery on these devices, 16GB of storage isn't enough for the plethora of large apps and HD content we're interested in downloading onto this device.


Can we see someone owning an iPhone, iPad mini and a full size iPad? Actually, yes...and not just the pointlessly rich. The iPhone is the perfect device for hopping in and out of content, giving you the internet all the time and generally allowing you to play more simple games.

The iPad mini is perfect for a train ride: it's just the right size for a few TV episodes when packed nose to nose with fellow commuters before slipping it back into a bag or pocket when leaping for your platform.

And the iPad is great for longer sessions and more involved gaming - air travel is so much more improved by its presence and no matter what game we were playing or which content-rich website we wanted to view, it was always the larger device we reached for.

At the time of its release the iPad mini was the best iPad Apple has ever created. It offers better value for money, sits more pleasantly in the hand and can handle all the tasks you want at least adequately and many times better than you'd expect.

If you're thinking about which tablet to buy a loved one and money isn't an issue, we'd recommend the iPad mini (or the newer iPad mini 3) every time for it's more impressive design compared to the swathes of plastic offered by its competitors. It's still overpriced, the CPU and display aren't as strong as they could be, but we can safely say this is the gift we'd like to see Santa put under our tree over the rest.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.