The iPad mini is here, and it’s just what we’d thought it would be. It’s a dinky iPad, innit.
But there are a few features Apple could have included that are not here. We’ve left out the yawnsome Apple standards like a memory card slot, so if that’s what has really put you off the tiny iPad, drop us a line in the comments.
iPad mini Retina Display
Apple coined the term Retina display, and the high pixel density screen type has been seen on most of Apple’s big mobile devices. But there isn’t one in the iPad mini
The iPad mini features the same screen resolution as the iPad 2, which nowadays looks very pixel-poor. It has 1,024 x 768 pixels packed into a 7.9-inch display. This gives it superior pixel density to an iPad 2, 162dpi to be precise, but it’s far below what an iPad 4 offers – 264dpi.
Apple has sensibly not tried to dub this a Retina grade display, because frankly you will be able to discern individuals with a little effort. Its resolution is actually lower than that of the Google Nexus 7, which has a smaller display and is cheaper.
This screen is one of the main points that opens-up the iPad mini to significant criticism.
iPad mini NFC
Like the iPhone 5 and iPad 4, the iPad mini does not have NFC. Its omission from these other devices told us that there was no chance it would show up in the iPad mini, but this is something Apple needs to address next year.
Apple claims that its Passbook app can take the place of NFC, but in its current state that simply isn’t true. Passbook is an app that aggregated things like digital vouchers, virtual travel tickets and so on, but it relies on having apps for each of the partners it deals with. And they simply aren’t there, especially not in the UK.
Passbook is virtually useless at present, and as it’s not a universal standard any suggestion that it could be the future of the high street is laughable. NFC, on the other hand, could flourish with the right support.
iPad mini Super-powered processor
The iPad mini doesn’t feature the super-powered A6X processor of the iPad 4. It doesn’t even feature the A5X processor of the iPhone 5 and iPad 3. It uses a version of the A5 chip seen in the iPhone 4S, which is looking a bit musty these days.
Apple’s A5 is a respectable chip, with a dual-core architecture, but to see a year-old chip feature in a brand-spanking new Apple product is not a great sign of progress. Especially when the iPad mini isn’t that cheap.
The most obvious roadblock that stands between the average tablet buyer and the iPad mini is price. Step back 12 months and the iPad mini would have looked like a decent bargain, but these days the market is different.
In July, Google released the Asus-made Nexus 7, a high-quality 7-inch Android tablet that starts at just £159. That’s £110 less than the iPad mini. Admittedly, this is for an 8GB version of the tablet, but with the 32GB edition set to sell for £199, it’s up to £150 less than the iPad mini.
Apple has often been accused of nicking other people’s ideas and co-opting them as their own. It’s often something that’s incited by anti-Apple-ism rather than anything real, but this time the argument is a little more solid.
The iPad mini is very much like a Kindle Fire/Google Nexus 7 take on the iPad. Aside from a redesigned bezel, it doesn’t really offer much new. There are no features to shout about beyond the convenience of a smaller, lighter tablet any many of its features are a bit old and slow compared with the top Apple phones and tablets. Where’s the innovation, Apple?
iPad mini Colours
The new iPod range, introduced alongside the iPhone 5, sees colour seep into products that had never seen it before. Never before has an iPod touch looked so…. colourful.
We half-hoped that the iPad mini could take on this jolly aspect, and it makes some sense given than plenty of kids are likely to be bought iPad minis this Christmas. The lucky things.
Instead of an array of colours, the iPad mini comes in the standard black and white finishes.
iPad mini Loop connector
We’re not exactly sad to see this omitted – the iPod touch’s Loop lanyard. The new-model iPod touch features a little pop-out button that holds a fabric lanyard in place.
As the iPad mini is just 300g in weight, Apple could have implemented the Loop in the iPad mini, letting you secure it from a fall. It’s not there, and it’s no great shame.
iPad mini Camera flash
Another iPad arrived, and yet again it does not have a flash. Rear tablet cameras are borderline useless at the best of times, but without a flash they’re even worse. Try and take photos in the dark and you’ll end up with a grainy, indistinct mess.
The rear camera of the iPad mini has a 5-megapixel sensor, which should in theory be capable of snagging decent snaps in the evening if it weren’t for the lack of flash. And, thankfully, as the tablet is much smaller than an iPad, you won’t look quite so ridiculous.