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iPad mini review

Luke Johnson




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  • Apple iPad mini
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Our Score:



  • Stunning brushed metal design
  • Strong battery life
  • Simply, intuitive UI


  • Low-res screen
  • More expensive than competition
  • No boxed headphones or dock adaptor

Key Features

  • 7.9-inch, 1024 x 768p IPS display
  • Lightning port connector
  • iOS 6
  • Manufacturer: Apple
  • Review Price: £269.00

The iPad mini is still available to buy but you shouldn't confuse it with the new iPad mini 2 Retina which looks exactly the same but is more expensive and has some significant improvements over its predecessor.

Key differences between the iPad mini and iPad mini 2:


The newer iPad mini comes with a Retina display. This offers a much higher resolution than the original iPad mini and it really tells. The screen is much sharper and brighter - it's one of the best tablet screens around. That's not to say that the original iPad mini's screen is rubbish. In fact it's decent. Video and pictures look good, it's when reading text that you'll wish for a higher resolution.


The iPad mini comes with the iPad 2's A5 processor in tow. It's a little long in the tooth now but has no problem running apps. The newer iPad mini comes with the same processor as the iPhone 5S, the 64-bit A7. You'll find that 3D games, like Infinity Blade 3, offer more detail and 3D effects on the Retina screen of the new iPad mini. If you want to use heavy duty apps like 3D rendering and video/photo editing you may want to pick up the more expensive iPad mini, but if not the processor jump is less of an issue than the screen.


The new iPad mini has a slightly better front and rear camera. You'll get better shots in lower light conditions with it.

Battery life:

Both iPad minis last about the same amount of time - 10 hours of constant use.


This is the other big difference between the original iPad mini and the new one. The original has dropped in price and costs £249 for the entry level 16GB Wi-Fi only model. The iPad mini Retina costs £70 at £319. If you only intend to use your iPad for light apps and browsing then the original iPad mini should suffice, but if you can afford the extra £70 you won't be disappointed by the stunning screen on the newer model.

Living with the iPad mini

Previously tipping the iPad mini as one of the first true rivals to the iPad’s mantle of tablet king, and a few months on from launch and the Google Nexus 7 rival is still coming into its own, outselling its 9.7-inch sibling and marking itself out as the most desirable offering in all of tablet land. What's more, since the iPad mini hit retailers, there has been no sign of a device to truly rival it despite the MWC unveiling of the stylus toting Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.

Virtually as good as new five months into life, the brushed aluminium rear of the iPad mini review unit we have been making use of plays host to just a couple of small scratches, despite being tossed around in bags, suffered a few knocks and drops and accompanied us on multiple trips to the US and across Europe. Protected only by the official iPad mini Smart Cover, the device’s screen is without damage, standing up well to the rigors of heavy, everyday use. That said, the iPad mini’s oleophobic coating isn’t all that it is cracked up to be, with smeared fingerprints the cause for a screenwipe always being at hand.

In terms of connectivity, the 4G iPad mini, paired with an EE contract has come into its own, allowing us largely uninterrupted access to online content whilst on the move and away from Wi-Fi hotspots.

Offering strong signal strength in areas of good coverage, the 4G iPad mini connection is let down only by the limited 4G coverage currently bestowed upon the UK. Although the 4G services can be patchy at times, the tablet seamlessly transitions to 3G networks when required, ensuring our online activities have remain uninterrupted. What's more, with EE recently confirming 4G is now available across 50 UK towns and cities, the draw of a 4G contract continues to grow stronger.

The main area where the iPad mini has failed to continue to shine five months after launch, is its display. Although we highlighted the iPad mini screen as an area for improvement during the original review, during the past few months, the niggling issue of its lack of a Retina display has continued to grow. Although still more than perfectly acceptable, when reading text-based content, such as through apps such as Pages, there is noticeable pixilation to the characters.

Although the 64GB iPad mini is now brimmed with all manner of content, from photos, videos and music to apps and games, the tablet shows no sign of slowing down, quickly and effortlessly jumping between content and keeping the user experience, smooth, free-flowing and efficient.

Continue reading for our full iPad mini review.

SEE ALSO: Best Cheap Tablets


Apple might have revolutionised the tablet market back in 2010 with the launch of the 9.7-inch original iPad, but the Cupertino based company is late to the 7-inch tablet party. With the iPad mini, however, it is certainly a case of better late than never.

Not your typical 7-inch device, the iPad mini is in fact a 7.9-inch tablet, with that extra 0.9 of an inch providing you with a very welcome 35 per cent more on-screen real-estate without adding too much to the device’s overall size. Able to be held in a single hand, the iPad mini answers many of the gripes with the original iPad’s difficult, at times cumbersome, size.

Featuring Apple’s customary premium price tag, iPad mini prices kick off at £269, a figure that is pleasingly £139 cheaper than the entry level iPad 4. Despite this, the iPad mini still costs £110 more than the basic Google Nexus 7, arguably the iPad mini’s closest competitor and a device that, on paper at least, is a more specs impressive offering.

With the iPad mini screen featuring an iPad 2 mimicking 1024 x 768p screen resolution, Apple’s stunningly designed, brushed aluminium beauty backs this up with a dual-core A5 processor. The Android 4.1 Jelly Bean running Google Nexus 7, on the other hand, boasts a 1280 x 800p HD display and NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, both of which are considerable upgrades.

Cameras front and rear, the iOS 6 operating system, Apple’s compact and fast new Lightning connector (as debuted on the iPhone 5) and a claimed 10 hour battery life complete the core iPad mini features list but, if we are being honest, this is not where the iPad mini excels. Unrivalled in terms of design and build quality, the iPad mini looks, feels and acts like a premium device and one which has the presence of an advancement of the 7-inch tablet market.

Apple iPad mini

iPad mini - Design

As with virtually all Apple devices, the iPad mini is an undeniable beauty, combining sleek, seamless edges, a stunning brushed metal back and strong build quality that is unrivalled by anything else on the 7-inch tablet market.

On first looks, it is most certainly a case of ‘Apple has done it once again’. A company that has a knack for producing some of the best looking gadgets on the market has instantly transformed the 7-inch tablet scene with the iPad mini, a device that oozes style and offers a pleasingly friendly user experience from the off. Whereas many of the other 7-inch devices on the market feature plastic heavy constructions, with the iPad mini Apple has taken the premium approach, a move that, although showing in the price tag, is one which separates the device from its competition.

Lining up at a svelte 7.2mm thick and just 308g in weight, despite the iPad mini’s additional screen size, Apple’s first 7.9-inch tablet enters the market with a more solid and reassuring build than the competition. With no flex or creaking when putting the device under considerable amounts of pressure, the iPad mini puts your mind at ease and offers a strong yet lightweight form factor that is more than just easy on the eye. Press the centre of the back and there's just a little give which you don't get on the larger iPad, and pressing the screen does result in the LCD distorting more readily but neither detract from the overall effect.

Apple iPad mini

With Apple keen to reassure us that this is not a mere 7-inch tablet, but in fact a game changing 7.9-inch device, it is clear to see why the iPod Touch manufacturer has plumped for the near extra inch. Although not as sharp as some the extra screen space creates a more immersive viewing experience that draws you in.

Despite being a couple of millimetres too wide to be held comfortably across the centre for prolonged periods, you can at least do so. And, if you do grip the corner instead, the lower weight means it remains comfortable for hours on end. With the tablet’s minimalist weight distributed evenly throughout the device’s body, the iPad mini is also well balanced in the hand not proving awkward to hold or tiresome to keep steady.

With few physical connection ports, the iPad mini’s power providing Lightning connector is hidden discretely out of the way on the device’s base whilst, somewhat strangely, the 3.5mm audio connector is situated on the top of the tablet. Having recently moved the iPhone 5’s audio connector from the top of the device to the base for improved, less intrusive access, it would have been expected to see Apple do the same with the iPad mini. As it is, however, the top-mounted connection can cause headphone cables to droop across the screen on occasion; an issue that although only minor can grate when attempting to watch a movie.

Apple iPad mini

This seemingly seamless design isn’t without a slight gripe, however. When playing a game such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted in which the device needs to be held in a landscape manner, the iPad mini speaker location becomes a cause for concern. Situated on the base of the tablet, either side of the new 8-pin Lightning dock connector, the speakers are easily muffled by the hand when holding the device in a standard and conventional manner, an issue that can severely diminish the sound quality and deplete the overall enjoyment of the experience.

Also, as visually appealing as the slim, brushed metal, flat backed design is, it does have a slight cost in terms of practicality. With little area to gain a finger hold, it can prove irritatingly difficult to pick the iPad mini up off of a hard flat surface without having to drag it to the edge of the table or desktop first.

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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