iPad mini 2 review

A great tablet that still costs a little too much

Apple iPad mini 2 unveiled
The best mini tablet just got better

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Typing on the iPad mini 2 is an interesting experience. It feels like the whining of the privileged to even mention it, but such is the balanced weight of the Retina-clad mini that holding the device in portrait mode and using two hands to enter text makes it feel too top-heavy.

If you split the keyboard (either through pinching outwards on the keys themselves, or dragging up the keyboard icon) it doesn't break apart fully until too far up the page.


And the landscape option pales in comparison to the iPad Air, with the smaller strike zones meaning that even if you prop the mini 2 up with a cover, it's still not as accurate as I'd like for a productivity device.

You might argue that writing longer documents is an ancillary function, but when Apple is shoving its iWork apps on consumers for free, you can reasonably argue that the company is hoping enough people buy iPads as laptop replacements.

I will give a shout-out to the improvements ushered in with iOS 8 though – it now supports third-party keyboards, and even the stock keyboard is now a little better thanks to next-word suggestions. And courtesy of iOS 9 you can turn the keyboard into a trackpad by pressing and holding on it with two fingers.

Email and iMessage

While it can be hard to find the people you want (or at least have all the social networks linked), messaging on the iPad is a much better experience.

There's iMessage and the decent inbuilt email app on offer as standard, and the variety of other chat apps you can download is mind-blowing.

iPad Mini 2 review

iMessage remains a slightly confusing app in that it can pull in information on your phone number and email addresses and use these to connect to other users; however, this isn't always accurate when you're trying to share details, and can result in people trying to contact you in the wrong way.

It's better than it is on the iPhone, which has texting to worry about too, but it's never the most reliable system to set up in our eyes.

Thankfully, the Mail app is a lot better, with a wide and expansive view that makes full use of the screen size. iOS 9 introduced some extra improvements, including the ability to write on and annotate email attachments.

You get a decent column down one side to see all your missives, and a gentle swipe across enables you to move or edit the mail, or send it to the trash can.

On top of that, emails are grouped together nicely when in conversation flow, email folders are easy to use and you can have all your messages in one inbox, even with a variety of accounts being used.

I also like the VIP setting, which enables you to tag only your boss and colleagues, so you know when to panic should you see a mail arriving there.


Adding in the Facetime HD camera is a big plus for the iPad mini 2, as it feels like the 1.2MP camera on the front of the device is so much smoother than it was in the original Mini. It's the same camera as the one in the most recent iPad mini 4.

It has all the same easy functionality as the previous iterations, but makes things look so much better over a decent Wi-Fi connection. Face tracking also works well to keep things in focus, and obviously allows you to give up your soul for the odd selfie.

Facetime is still a little impenetrable to set up for some - you have to know which numbers or email addresses have been used to access the service through, which can be frustrating when you have a contact and they've only set up Facetime on a certain email address instead of the number you have for them.

iPad Mini 2 review

But with the addition of Facetime Audio, and the improved Facetime HD camera, this is a great device for when you're on the go and want to say goodnight to your goldfish from the bus.

And with Facetime Audio now an option, you can have free voice calls with other enabled users thanks to VOIP technology. Once in the app you can set up your favourite people as instant contacts to call - and helpfully they can also be set to call through voice or video by default.

While there aren't that many other ways to talk to people over the iPad mini 2, the Contacts app is still obviously on board, giving access to all the people you've spoken to and saved over the years.

However, be careful when adding accounts, as you'll likely have a few on there and it's very easy to have information from Exchange, Gmail, Hotmail and iCloud all jostling for position in your list, as well as those from Facebook too.

It's not as easy as on Android to change these though, as you'll need to jump into the external Settings app once more to check the right boxes.

iPad Mini 2 review

However, when this is done things are nice and simple, showing the friends you've saved as well as their Facebook picture (or other that you've tagged) if you've linked the accounts.

However, here's an issue I'm not sure why Apple hasn't fixed as yet: contact linking is nigh-on impossible unless you drill right down through the editing menu.

You can pull all manner of social network account info into a contact card, but when adding the names in you're not going to link to the right person unless you're exact with your spelling.

It's confusing as to why your contact lists aren't pulled from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and more when you're trying to perform this task, but it's very difficult to tag people together, which is irritating when you want pictures to go alongside each name.

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.