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

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 the original iOS 7.0.4 on board – 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 either the iPad mini or the mini 2, coming in with a 4% better score than the Retina iPad mini.

iPad Mini 2 review

When I re-ran our HD video battery test with iOS 9.2.1 installed, I saw a drop of a whopping 48% - compare that with a 30% decrease for the Fire HD 8 or 25% for the iPad mini 4.

That may sound awful, but it's all about that screen and the brightness (which is always set to the maximum for our tests). An hour of listening to Beats 1 with the screen off resulted in a much more acceptable 2% drop. The tablet also holds its charge well when it's not in use and stuffed away in a drawer somewhere.

With the brightness lowered 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 two-to-three days, even with the added bonus of it being so portable, and for a tablet that's easily enough.

It's only if you've got the screen on constantly, with the brightness ramped up, that you're going to run into problems after 3-4 hours.

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), which uses a load more antennas to give a really strong and stable connection to your router.

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

We've seen two iPad mini models since the second-generation one of course, but if you're in a house that struggles to get Wi-Fi signal to the outlying rooms, this iPad will certainly help.

4G bands have also been supercharged in the same way as we saw on the iPad Air, and low-power Bluetooth is also on board, making the mini 2 an extremely well-connected device.


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

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

iPad Mini 2 review

When you consider the iPad mini 2 as an ideal gadget to gift someone else, 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 Garageband when you want to be precise in your chord strumming or drumming – the larger iPad Air models are more adept here.

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

iPad Mini 2 review

On top of that, I still feel the need to laud the Apple App Store for offering 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 usability thanks to constant upgrades – it even has public transit directions for a limited number of places (including London).

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.