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iPad mini Review - Browser, Apps and Camera

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson



  • Recommended by TR
iPad mini


Our Score:


iPad mini - Browser and Apps

As with the full sized iPad range and the complete iPhone collection, the iPad mini browser is Apple's usual Safari offering. Ensuring a simple and efficient browsing experience, the iOS Safari browser offers all the features you might require from your portable web access point and little that you don’t.

Due to the reduced form factor and minimised screen size of the iPad mini, the tablet's browser is more compact than on past iPad models with the address and search bars noticeably narrower. Despite these shrunken components, the iPad mini browser is still quick and easy to use, with well laid out controls and a raft of options.

These smaller touch targets, whilst something that you don’t notice as much when tackling the still spacious app icons, become increasingly apparent when navigating the browser options and controls. Small enough to force concentration when attempting to select to navigate either forward or backwards through already viewed web pages, these buttons are still of an acceptable size, encouraging caution, not concern, when in use.

For those with high simultaneous browsing needs, the iPad mini’s tabbed browsing options are simple to use with a staggering 24 tabs able to be opened and utilised simultaneously, a figure that far exceeds many mobile browsing services. On top of this, bookmarks and browsing history are easily accessed via a dedicated button whilst those with further iCloud compatible devices such as an iPhone 5 can view tabs they have open on other devices.

With Wi-Fi load times proving of a more than acceptable nature, the iPad mini browser offers a raft of time saving convenience shortcuts allowing users to email, message, Tweet or Facebook web pages at will direct from the browser. Although this will not be of use to all, the option is of significant benefit to those who need it as will be the wireless AirPlay printing options and Reading List features that allow users to save web pages for offline viewing.

As this is an Apple device, the iPad mini doesn't feature Flash support. With the web becoming increasingly HTML 5 friendly, however, this is becoming less of a problem with many sites now adopting the Apple iDevice supported system.

Although the iPad mini comes pre-installed with a relatively minimal collection of out of the ordinary performance enhance applications, thanks to Apple's iTunes App Store it is quick and simple to get the device brimming with all manner of apps. With more than 275,000 applications now available from the App Store, Apple’s content collection is a key selling point for the iPad mini and full-size iPad range. Especially as the online outlet is laid out in such a manner so as to not only offer a pleasant user experience, but enhance the discoverability of new apps, meaning you should not be limited only by what you know.

iPad mini - Camera

Twin cameras adorn the iPad mini, with one on the front and one on the back. They don't exactly set the imaging world alight but provide a more than satisfactory experience. Pairing the 5-megapixel rear-mounted iSight camera with a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD snapper up front, the iPad mini is capable of producing acceptable yet far from inspiring images.

In strong, natural lighting conditions, the iPad mini performs much like a current mid-range smartphone such as the Sony Xperia Go, or indeed the now slightly dated iPhone 4, offering pictures with pleasing colour management and contrast ratios that more than justify the inclusion of a price increasing camera. In less than ideal shooting conditions, however, the device, like many camera toting portable devices be they smartphone or tablet, struggles.

Whilst shooting in a dully lit indoor environment will see grainy, noise riddled images produced, overcast skies result in images that are streaked with a lifeless white or off grey patch that fails to capture the subtleties and nuances of the real world setting. What’s more, the lack of an integrated LED flash means that the severely diminished quality of shots taken in less than ideal lighting is hard to overcome.

What does give the iPad mini camera some added brownie points, however, is its strong autofocus capabilities and its impressive facial recognition software that automatically detects faces and optimises focus to ensure strong results. On top of this, in busy shots there is the option to tap the screen to direct the focus on a specified area, a feature that works well.

Offering little in terms of settings customisation, the ‘options’ tab within the iPad mini camera provides just one option, turning the rule of thirds grid on or off. Not even the HDR mode, nor the more recent panorama addition, are included.

Although this is a camera designed primarily to capture the moment, not create stunning results, when competing tablets do offer useful options for tweaking the results without hindering their ease of use, it's a shame to be quite so limited here.

Attempting to utilise the available digital zoom is the easiest way to ruin your snaps with the close-up services failing to offer any detail or edging to images, instead creating lifeless blobs of colour that do not warrant further viewings.

Bringing a level of entertainment and light-hearted enjoyment to the iPad mini's cameras, Apple has pre-installed Photo Booth, a photo effects application that, although not able enhance picture quality, introduces a selection of shooting modes that are sure to appeal to some. Opting for quirky over practical usage options, Photo Booth’s collection of effects fall wholly under the header of novelty thanks to the likes of the Kaleidoscope and X-Ray shooting modes. Although entertaining at times, these effects would produce far more user appeasing results in the long term if replaced by more desired options such as a simple black and white shooting mode or the classic sepia effect.

Capable of shooting video at higher quality than it can play back, the iPad mini’s camera boasts 1080p Full HD video recording capabilities. It is capable of strong results but suffers from the same issues as the stills camera. With little issue with motion blur, the iPad mini video recorder performs best when in brightly lit areas with the sound capture quality a welcome addition.

Again ticking the boxes without offering a ground-breaking experience, the iPad mini's forward-facing camera struggles in artificial and less than ideal lighting conditions but pleasingly makes FaceTime or Skype video calls a possibility.

Russell Peto

June 26, 2012, 1:10 pm

I'm not normally one to do complaining-about-apple-news-because-its-apple thing, but come on guys, a round up of incredibly vague rumors for a product that doesn't exist and has not even been hinted at by the manufacturer?


If you know something and are under an NDA then leave it till you can at least hint that you know. This sort of vaporcopy article just makes TR look bad.


August 23, 2012, 11:39 am

I know that the design would look really great if it comes out mini, but wouldn't having an I phone be better?


August 25, 2012, 10:27 am

Russell - I am assuming you read the article, therefore saw the adverts. Job done as far as TR is concerned


August 27, 2012, 12:17 am

We do know where you're coming from but ultimately if we're to be a news source for the latest happenings in the world of tech then we need to cover rumour articles too - after all, it's what people are searching for. This just makes for an easy one-stop solution for people to find out everything we've heard so far on the iPad mini. We try to be as open and honest about this as possible and feel our approach isn't over the top. You'll note the article doesn't misleadingly have the word review plastered all over it, for instance.


August 27, 2012, 12:34 am

I know what you're trying to imply here but you've actually missed the point. If the article was read in something like its entirety then absolutely we can be justified in publishing it. After all, there's no pretence or misdirection here - the article clearly states what it is. The cynical view would be that we don't even care about someone reading it but rather just that they click the link and give us a page view. But by providing considered and original content such as the above, we like to think we aren't.


October 3, 2012, 11:07 pm

In response to Ed's response to rushforthk, I disagree. The article headline in google reader read: "iPad Mini Tablet Review". I've noticed a lot of these linkbait style headlines over the past few months and will soon be removing TR from my rss feeds. The signal to noise rato has gone very low around here lately.


October 4, 2012, 11:00 am

Why do you keep implying Apple products are particularly fragile and prone to damage? They use toughened glass (which is really a kind of ceramic) and are at least as tough as any other smartphone on the market and the aluminium cases are certainly stronger than any of the plastic rivals made in the Far East. I have dropped my iPhone more times than I care to remember on tile, concrete and wood floors. The other day I left it my bed and forgot it was there and when I pulled the covers back my iPhone 4 shot across the room and smashed into the metal frame of an exercise machine. There wasn't a scratch on it and it worked perfectly afterwards. There are many legitimate things to criticise Apple products for but build quality is not one of them. Almost every TR review now carries a snide remark about using glass and aluminium. It's beginning to sound like special pleading from someone who did something stupid and broke his device and has been sore about it ever since. Can you please tell us which rival makes an indestructible smart phone that doesn't use glass in its construction? Yes it will scratch or break if mistreated. But that's also true of furniture, cars and just about any consumer device ever made. In the future when we can buy products made out of weightless indestructible unobtanium you might have a point. For now it is just silly.


October 4, 2012, 2:37 pm

Unfortunately, that's a technical issue that's not too easy to remedy. We'll admit it doesn't look the best on the RSS. But c'mon, we still do full, in-depth reviews for the most part :)


October 24, 2012, 3:36 am

Write for the end user TR, not the Google rankings... Really gone down hill in recent years! Very disapointed. Will also be removing from my RSS feeds!


October 24, 2012, 11:09 pm

I dunno about you guys but does this render the very recently released iPod Touch rather redundant all of a sudden because there's only £20 difference between that and the iPad mini? So unless we value the portability, double the storage and a sharper (albeit smaller) screen over the extra features, what's the point of the iPod Touch?


October 28, 2012, 5:22 pm

Always enjoy your reviews.. but in the PRO section for this ipad mini you put
Surprisingly affordable starting price ???????????
do a google search and that's one of the main sore points about this unit...


October 31, 2012, 12:59 am

"Surprisingly affordable starting price" - is probably a relative comparison to the iPad 9.7" but fall short when comparing to the keenly fought 7+" tablet marketplace.


November 4, 2012, 11:22 am

You say the iPad 2 had a screen pitch of 148ppi. This is wrong. It is exactly half the pitch of the Retina iPad, i.e. 132ppi, which means the iPad mini's 163ppi is 24% higher, or 38% less than that of the Retina iPad.


November 15, 2012, 8:10 pm

I stopped reading TR about a year ago because of all the rampant Apple fanboyism from the writers. For some reason I ended back at TR today and the first thing I saw was an Apple 9/10 review. See you in another year.


November 24, 2012, 10:40 pm

But the battery life is only 10 hours, it's really short as mobile device, already get iPad MINI Protective Leather Rotary Case With Belt Buckle, really cool ipad mini case

Alan Wright

December 17, 2012, 8:23 pm

But if it was that good why not give it 9/10? In my opinion it IS that good.


December 20, 2012, 4:30 pm

"Whilst unlike Android or Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system Apple’s iOS offering does not bring information such as emails or calendars to the fore through the use of interactive and customisable widgets, the app based UI that Apple introduced with the original iPhone is still a simplistic joy to use. With nothing more than a quick tap of the desired icon "

What I really don't understand is how apple is somehow allowed to be a special case for things like lack of widgets. Lets be clear here, in Android you don't have to use widgets. You can lay out your apps exactly how iOS does it, with a "quick tap of the desired icon". In this way, Android doesn't lose anything to iOS. On the other hand, in iOS you can't have widgets. The choice doesn't exist. Yet the lack of widgets in iOS is somehow presented as a good thing, a design choice, even a feature. If an Android handset came along and did the same thing it would get blasted for not allowing widgets. Why is iOS allowed to be a special case?


December 20, 2012, 8:11 pm

Agreed that was a little misleading as it was referring to comparative Apple products. We've removed that pro now, thanks for pointing it out.

Charly McVey

December 22, 2012, 7:05 pm

I don't understand how something like this can be given such a high score when it falls down everywhere next to it's 7inch Rivals. People are buying 7inch tablets as they are comfortable to use with one hand, have high resolution screens that are good for text and are inexpensive.

That is the 7inch market surely?

In this Review you clearly say not comfortable to hold in 1 hand as it is wider than the others, you complain about the resolution when reading text and web pages and also the price versus it's Rivals yet stll it gets 9 out of 10?? You do not get headphones with it or even an adapter to connect it to anything you already own? As for how it feels and the design I was vey dissapointed, it's a small iPad that feels like it is a cheap copy of a premium apple device. After I had tried one in the shop I left dissapointed and thought apple had definetly missed the boat here. 9/10 did I read this review correctly?

"Certainly the most desirable 7-inch tablet on the market,(Why?) the iPad mini’s £269 starting" price is considerably higher than the competition but for that outlay you get a device that, although not specs superior,(so it's more expensive?) is a far more enticing(to who, apple fanboi's?) option than much of what is already on the market. Can't believe after all of this it still gets a 9/10!!!!

Mike Hutchings

December 23, 2012, 11:03 pm

Twice the price it should be and it looks surprisingly like the Samsung Tab2 7 inch but not as good; do I smell another court case?


December 24, 2012, 11:12 am

The Nexus 7 gets slammed for:

Non-expandable memory
Native video support limited

But the iPad Mini's (and any other iPad's) lack of the same isn't even mentioned. You're mysteriously silent about it. Why is that?


December 25, 2012, 7:18 pm

I have been playing with the iPad mini and the Google Nexus 7 for about 3 days and both are very good but the Apple has way more function in the App dept. High performance means nothing when you do not have programs/apps to use the high performance. At that small of a size screen you are hard pressed to to see pixels and it looks more than good enough. I am going to get the iPad Mini. The only thing that these companies should offer on their tablets is expandable memory options.

Doug Eyver

January 3, 2013, 3:34 pm

The Ipad Mini will become a future Iphone where Siri will receive instructions via Bluetooth. You can keep the Mini in your briefcase, purse or coat pocket and have full function of the phone. Then you can pull it out, access maps, websites, photos, videos, even music while continuing to talk on the phone. The size of the mini coupled with the ability of a cell phone will revolutionize the industry. It will be that one step before your cell phone becomes your home computer that plugs into a cradle, connecting to a keyboard and monitor. One system for all. The more it does, the pricier it will get but worth it so that you don't have to carry a laptop, cell phone and Ipad around.

Wes Smith

January 11, 2013, 8:16 am

TR has been biased toward Apple products for a long long time. That's why.

Wes Smith

January 11, 2013, 8:22 am

One of the cons in this review should include non-expandable memory just like they pointed out on the Nexus 7. That is one example of a skewed review with an Apple bias..

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