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iPad mini 2 with Retina display review

A great tablet that still cost a little too much

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

Our Verdict

The iPad mini 2 is flawless in so many ways. From a rich app catalog to the best design on the market, the mini 2's only real downfall is its price. If your pockets are deep you'll simply love it.


  • Amazing screen
  • Cutting edge CPU
  • Brilliant design


  • Similar-spec rivals are much cheaper
  • 16GB too low storage

Update: While it doesn't tote the same Touch ID goods as the latest iPad Mini 5, the Mini 2 still got a hearty update with the arrival of iOS 9.3.

Night Shift brings intelligent color temperature-shifting tech to the iPad Mini 2. Whether you're tablet surfing in the morning or nighttime, this new feature automatically shifts the light emitted from the display to a hue of yellow that's much easier on the eyes.

It might not sound like a big deal, it's hard to go back to a life without Night Shift. The change in the screen's color temperature is said to assist in keeping your circadian rhythm in balance. Meaning, unlike other screens, the iPad Mini 2 with Night Shift won't mess with your sleep schedule.

Wondering whether it actually effective at what it sets out to do, we took it to task for a few days. The result? Less eye-strain and improved sleep efficiency–both good things.

We look forward to the features coming down the line from iOS 10, which the iPad Mini 2 has been confirmed to support.

Curious to see what sorts of new features are coming down the line with the iOS 10 upgrade? We've done the legwork and have served up our first impressions of the latest software.

Original review follows below...

The new iPad mini 2 (or iPad mini with Retina display, if you want to give it Apple's elongated title) is the next step in the smaller tablet wars - and with Google and Amazon stepping up their respective games, the Cupertino brand needed something that hit back with strength.

However, even with that landscape, we were still surprised when Apple announced the iPad mini 2 on stage, coming with things like the A7 chip under the hood and a 128GB iteration to satisfy those that crave a lot of HD action.

On top of that, there's the much-needed Retina screen (as the name might have told you) and an improvement in battery size to help power those pixels more effectively.

However, there's the big issue of price, which Apple has had to balance carefully over recent years. No matter how much you like the look of the iPad mini 2, you have to factor in that it will set you back nearly $399 for the lowest-spec 16GB model with Wi-Fi connectivity only.

Consider the rivals, and you'll see that Apple has a real fight on its hands. Google's 7-inch Nexus 7 is £199 (US$229, AU$299) at the same spec, and Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX starts at the same level (although you'll need to put up with the ads to get it at that price).

iPad Mini 2 review

Even LG's slightly overpriced G Pad 8.3 is only £260 (around US$329, AU$399) for the 16GB model, and that lets you supplement the meager innards with a microSD card.

Given that Apple's decision to allow users to download the iWork catalog for free, as well as Garageband, iPhoto and iMovie, then you'll really be looking at buying the 32GB tablet option at a minimum.

It's here that you have to wonder at Apple's pricing strategy. The doubling of the internal storage is something that apparently costs twice as much to achieve, compared to Google, and even less for Amazon.

iPad Mini 2 review

That said, the iPad mini 2 does still feel like decent value for money given it's not a loss leader over Google and Amazon, and not just because of the tired "Well, it's an Apple device and therefore spending more should be expected" excuse.

We've never bought into that, and never will. Apple makes well-designed and premium products, but as the extra cost for larger capacities illustrates, it's not always justified.

But while in the phone market we can't understand why an iPhone 5S costs so much more than an HTC One or a Galaxy S4, in the tablet space Apple has a justified lead.

iPad Mini 2 review

The iPad mini 2 is an excellent device. There's no other way to look at it. We were pretty impressed with the original mini a year ago, but bemoaned the low-res screen and under-powered chipset powering things along.

So we fully expected the iPad mini 2 to be another sidekick to a bigger brother, and with the iPad Air showing itself to be the best tablet on the market, we fully thought we'd be getting a smaller iPad with a Retina screen and an A6 chip - so the decision to make the tablet 64-bit enabled with the latest A7 CPU is a really great thing to see.

It takes an already well made device and adds in so much more: the aluminum finish no longer feels like a deflection from the fact the iPad mini doesn't have the engine to compete with its Snapdragon-powered rivals.

iPad Mini 2 review

Check out the benchmark speeds later and you'll see just how much better the CPU is for day-to-day tasks and, coupled with the rich app ecosystem and improved operating system, you'll see how Apple justifies charging the premium price.

M7 Chip

The addition of the M7 chip in the iPad mini 2 seems on the surface to be a little redundant, given you won't be doing much in the way of exercise with the mini strapped to your arm.

However, there are journal-style apps coming out that will use information on where you've been and the weather at the time - tiny tasks that don't need the help of the larger chip.

Gareth Beavis

Global Editor-in-Chief

Gareth was in charge of phones, tablets and wearables at TechRadar for the best part of a decade and now runs the entire editorial team. He can instantly recommend the best phone for you, or can be found running around the nearest park with the latest fitness tech strapped to his wrist, head or any other applicable body part.