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iPad mini Review - Multimedia, Battery Life and Verdict

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson



  • Recommended by TR
iPad mini


Our Score:


iPad mini - Multimedia

Although, unlike the recently released iPhone 5, the iPad mini does not play host to a multimedia friendly 16:9 aspect ration, the compact tablet still holds its own in terms of audio and video playback with more than acceptable image quality paired with surprisingly impressive audio abilities.

Despite featuring some location based issues when playing app based games, the integrated iPad mini speakers are in fact, for the large part, a surprisingly impressive affair. During music playback, audio is strong with little distortion or crackle, even at the top end of the volume spectrum. What’s more, thanks to their position on the angled lower edge of the 7.9-inch tablet, the inbuilt speakers are unaffected when the device is placed on a flat surface with no muffling or depletion of output.

All that said, they still pale in comparison to the stereo speakers employed by the latest Samsung Galaxy Tabs, BlackBerry PlayBook and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

Building on its iPod pedigree, the iPad mini audio playback through headphones is some of the best we have experienced on a tablet device with a well-rounded sound stage covering everything from deep bass rich notes to the twang of an acoustic guitar. Although output could be a bit stronger at the top and bottom ends, it is hard to fault what is otherwise a hugely impressive audio performance from a compact 7-inch tablet.

Strangely for an Apple iDevice, and one which has such a strong audio standing, the iPad mini does not come boxed with a pair of the company’s new Apple EarPods headphones, or any headphones for that matter. Whilst not the biggest omission, this does seem a little penny-pinching from one of the world's most valuable companys.

Following Apple’s trademark storage options the iPad mini is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities with the tablet’s price jumping rapidly from £269 to £429 between this trio of options. As ever this can't be expanded by adding a memory card as on some rivals.

Although present, the iPad mini photo editing abilities are extremely limited with little more than red-eye reduction, auto-enhance and the classic crop option on offer. With the plethora of photo editing applications, both paid for and free, that are available to download, however, this is only a small concern.

Further bolstering the iPad mini multimedia capabilities, the fast access music player controls that feature on the multitasking menu bar are a time saving joy to use. Providing playback controls without having to delve into the full music player, the remote panel allows users to play, pause and skip tracks as well as make on-screen volume adjustments at will.

iPad mini - Battery Life and Connectivity

The claimed 10 hour battery life of the iPad mini rings near enough true during general day-to-day use. This predicted figure clearly doesn't account for the consumption of high-end, performance demanding games such as EA's latest NFS offering, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, however. What’s more, when the battery is depleted, getting it back to full juice again will take a considerable amount of time with an overnight charge the least obtrusive way to recharge the device following heavy usage.

Currently only available in Wi-Fi form with a cellular enabled, 3G and 4G compatible device to launch later in the year, the iPad mini follows on from the iPhone 5 and 2012 iPod Touch refresh in ditching the Apple’s dated 30-pin connector in favour of the new, faster, smaller 8-pin Lightning port.

Although commendably smaller than its predecessor, and with the useful ability to be plugged in either way round, the need to buy extra adapters and cables to make the connector work with existing docks and chargers is a costly annoyance. The iPad mini does come with a mains charger and Lightning cable in the box but no other adapters are included.

Also notable is that while the Lightning port can be converted into HDMI, USB and SD ports for connecting to a TV, camera and SD card respectively, no such connections are already on the device and the adapters can be quite pricey. Most alternatives do offer one or more of these connections without the need for adapters.

Wi-Fi is of course onboard, with networks up to the 802.11n standard supported. We found connectivity to be strong with no occasions of drop off or unexplained loss of connection recorded during our time with the device.

Bluetooth 4.0 is also included but otherwise that's your lot, with no NFC included for instance. Although not currently available, the iPad mini cellular options which is tipped to be released in the coming weeks will host support for GSM, EDGE, HSPA and LTE networks.

Apple iPad mini

iPad mini - Verdict

Certainly the most desirable 7-inch tablet on the market, 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, is a far more enticing option than much of what is already on the market.

Combining a brushed aluminium back with seamlessly curved edges and a fascia that will be familiar to full-sized iPad owners, the iPad mini is a device that looks and feels every penny that you pay for it. A step on from the plastic backed likes of the Google Nexus 7, the iPad mini is unrivalled in terms of build quality and style.

More than a simple piece of eye candy, however, the iPad mini is a joy to use and one which, thanks to its slightly larger 7.9-inch display is immersive and perfectly sized for a combination of business and pleasure purposes. If you have recently splashed out on a full-sized iPad 3 or iPad 4 then this might not be for you. If, however, you are looking to make the plunge into the tablet market for the first time and can live without an HD display, it’s hard to look past the new iPad mini.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Design 10
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Screen Quality 7
  • Value 8

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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