The iPad mini is precisely what it sounds like. Functionally, it's much like a shrunken iPad 3.
However, this one change completely alters what the tablet is good at, and who is likely to buy the thing. There are knock-on differences throughout, too. If you want to find out what the iPad mini is really about, read on.
PriceiPad mini - From £269
iPad 3 - From £399 (now deceased)
As expected, the iPad mini is significantly cheaper than the full-size iPad. If it wasn't, the iPad mini would really be a tough sell.
Pricing of the new tablet is sensible but not startling, given how affordable the Asus-Google partnership device, the Google Nexus 7, is.
Most notably, it's just within the realms of what we'd consider a Christmas present buy, where the iPad 3 is simply too expensive for most people. Unless it's someone buying it for their other half, when in reality they mostly want to play with it themselves.
iPad 3 - a bit... big
DesigniPad mini - Anodised aluminium, 308g
iPad 3 - Anodised aluminium, 652g
True to its name, the iPad mini looks just like a tiddly iPad, for the most part. Its rear is made using the same sort of materials as its daddy, aluminium. This is a very lightweight metal, giving the tablet the right match between a cool, hard, premium feel and a body that won't give you shoulder pain after holding it for ten minutes.
The iPad mini is, predictably, a good deal lighter than the full-size iPad. At just over under the weight, it's significantly more comfortable to hold in one hand. If you want a tablet to use while on the train on the way to work, the iPad mini is arguably a better buy - unless you're guaranteed a seat 100 percent of the time.
DimensionsiPad mini - 200mm x 134.7mm x 7mm
iPad 3 - 241mm x 186mm x 9mm
The raw dimensions of the iPad mini make its increased portability cred perfectly clear. It is much smaller than the original iPad, making it much closer in size to tabs like the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. This is apt, as many say the iPad mini is a direct reaction to these tablets.
iPad mini - slim
Apple's iPad 3 gained a bit of weight in order to fit in a larger battery to get the series-standard 10-hour battery stamina, but thankfully the iPad mini has managed to slim down again, to 7mm. And yet the iPad mini still offers excellent battery life, at the iPad standard 10 hours.
ScreeniPad mini - 7.85in, 1,024 x 768, IPS
iPad 3 - 9.7in, 2,048 x 1536 pixels, IPS
The clearest way to compare these two Apple tablets is in screen size. The figures tell it all.
7.85in against 9.7in is a large margin, making a clear argument for on-the-go and at-home use respectively. Tablet fans will note, though, that the iPad mini is actually a little large by the standards of small tablets, being wider thant the Google Nexus 7.
This is in-line with previous Apple statements. Steve Jobs argued that 7in tablets were just too small to give a proper tablet experience, and the extra screen real estate in the 7.85in iPad mini covers their back on this topic, a bit.
We'll find out whether the extra screen space is a boon or a pain in the backside while out and about when we get an iPad mini in to review.
SoftwareiPad mini - iOS 6
iPad 3 - iOS 6
Both versions of the iPad use the same software, iOS 6. This is the same platform you'll find on newer iPhone and the latest iPod touch. If you've ever used an iOS device, it'll seem incredibly familiar.
iOS is a very thin platform. That may sound like an insult, but it isn't. Apple has made iOS as simple as possible in order to make it as accessible as possible. Even babies can get on with iOS, as YouTube can attest.
iPad 3 - iOS 6. Familiar, isn't it?
PoweriPad mini - Dual-core A5 processor, RAM TBC
iPad 3 - Dual-core A5X processor, 1GB RAM
The iPad mini and the older "new" iPad 3 (now that's confusing) use similar chipsets. In raw power terms, the iPad 3 is more powerful, but rendering pixels requires power, and the iPad 3 has a whole lotta them. Its has a Retina-grade display, where the iPad mini does not.
We expect to see similar results in benchmarks that offer real-world style scenarios, due to the huge gulf in pixel-packness.