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iPad Mini 4 Review

Sections

Verdict

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Pros

  • Great size for media and games
  • iPad apps are the best
  • Looks and feels lovely
  • Fast

Cons

  • Expensive
  • iOS needs more tablet additions

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £319.00
  • 7.9-inch Retina display
  • A8 CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/64/128GB storage
  • Optional LTE
  • iOS 9.3
  • 8-megapixel iSight camera
  • 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera

What is the iPad Mini 4?

Often the unloved tablet in Apple’s lineup, the latest mini-iPad is pretty much an iPad Air 2 with a 7.9-inch display.

It probably is what the poorly received iPad Mini 3 should have been, thanks to the improved CPU, 2GB of RAM, laminated display and overall thinner body.

It’s a fantastic little media machine that while pricey, has all the functionality of its bigger brothers. Just in a smaller package.

iPad Mini 4 – Design

The iPad Mini 4 looks just like the iPad Mini 3 before it, which in turn looked just like the iPad Mini 2. Apple clearly feels it’s reached peak iPad design, and I mostly agree.

Those chamfered edges glisten, the curved sides sit comfortably in your hands, and the flat back helps the device perch, without rocking, on a table. It’s as slippery as ever, though: I often feel a little uneasy when holding the tablet in one hand.

Related: Best Tablets
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Along the side of the iPad Mini 4 is a volume switch, and a lock button sits along the top; Apple has done away with the rotation lock slider of the iPad Mini 3. This is in order to make the device slimmer – 6.1mm as opposed to 7.5mm – and the trade-off is fine by me. It’s lighter, too, by about 30g.

On the bottom you’ll find the precisely machined speaker holes and a Lightning charging port.

The defining feature of the iPad Mini 4, as its name implies, is its size. It’s far more manageable in one hand than the iPad Air 2 or 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and when placed next to the iPad Pro 12.9-inch the difference is almost comical.

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In certain situations, I much prefer the compact style. Reading, for instance, is far better on the iPad Mini 4. I can hold up the device comfortably with one hand for extended periods, something that wouldn’t be possible with a larger tablet. It also feels more natural to be reading on a device that is the actual size of a paperback book.

The iPad Mini 4 is also the perfect companion when out and about. Pulling it out on the bus, tube or train feels less intrusive to others – especially on jam-packed public transport – than it does with a full-sized tablet, which makes it a great little media machine to always keep around.

However, I don’t find the iPad Mini anywhere near as productive as larger devices. Its smaller display leads to a smaller on-screen keyboard, making typing more difficult and therefore typos more common. The size issue affects third-party keyboard accessories, too, which again makes them far less functional than their larger counterparts.

Related: iOS 9 tips and tricks
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iPad Mini 4 – Display

Since it was announced months before the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the iPad Mini 4’s display doesn’t feature True Tone technology. Still, this is a fine screen – in fact, of all the iPads this is the most pixel-dense panel.

The 2,058 x 1,536 display is the same as both the iPad Air 2 and smaller iPad Pro, but those pixels are packed much tighter together in the 7.9-inch panel as opposed to the 9.7-inch version.

This is also the first iPad Mini display to be laminated, ditching that tiny air-gap that previously sat between the glass and the actual display. Of all the changes in the iPad Mini 4 this is one of my favourites, and you’ll really notice the difference if you’re coming to the iPad Mini 4 from previous generations of iPad. It feels like you’re actually touching the pixels.

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There’s a wider colour gamut too – the same as the iPad Air 2 – so the panel can display a broader range of hues. Again, put the iPad Mini 4 side by side with either the iPad Mini 2 or 3 and you’ll instantly notice the difference. Blacks are deeper, reds are more vivid and whites are less dingy.

It’s an all-round fantastic display, and a huge step-forward over the screen on the iPad Mini 2 and 3 – both of which I found a little washed out and lacking in vibrancy.

Outdoor usability remains limited, however, especially in direct sunlight – and after even a few minutes of use the display is an absolute fingerprint magnet.

We test every tablet we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the tablet as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main tablet for the review period

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks

Ongoing real world testing

Tested with various games, apps and services

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