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By the same token, it was also panned by power users who thought the mini should have the same high-end specs and Retina display as the inch model. In short, Apple had two iPads that were capable of attracting two different groups of people. This year Apple stirred the pot. The new iPad mini not only features nicer hardware than its predecessor; it's also equipped with the same specs as its larger sibling, the iPad Air.
For starters, the mini adds a Retina display, along with Apple's top-of-the-line A7 processor and a larger battery. But, it also comes at a higher cost. Is there anything else in the mid-sized tablet market that would work at a lower price? And since the two iPads are no very similar, are there any factors to consider outside of size? We can explain the hardware of the new iPad mini in one sentence: It's an iPad Air hit by a shrink ray.
In many ways, the new mini appears to be a modest, iterative update. Dive a little deeper, however, and the new iPad mini represents an apparent shift in Apple's product strategy. How so? To answer this question, let's go back to last year, when Apple made it clear at its fall event that the iPad mini shouldn't be regarded as a scaled-down iPad. This smaller tablet should have its very own personality, Apple said, and should be viewed in a different light than its larger sibling. It even featured a beautiful design that more closely resembled an iPhone 5 or fifth-generation iPod touch than the fourth-gen iPad , with its chamfered edges and rounded back.
Unfortunately, it didn't have a Retina display, nor was it as powerful as the inch version. It was a great tablet in terms of size and portability, but it seemed like Apple was reserving its latest and greatest features for the full-sized model. This year is a different story. Not only did the iPad now called the iPad Air get redesigned to look just like the mini, but it also offers virtually the same specs as the smaller model.
In many respects, the smaller tablet is now a scaled-down iPad Air -- precisely what Apple seemed to be avoiding last year when it debuted the original mini with inferior specs. Now, the company wants its tablets to be equal in everything but screen size, so you don't have to feel like you're making any sacrifices by choosing the mini.
We also can't help but wonder if Apple plans to extend this philosophy to iPhones by offering more than one size. Well, they're almost equal; you will notice a few minor variations. For instance, the Air's battery is larger, mainly thanks to its bigger size, but Apple's hour battery life claims apply to both regardless.
The mini's processor also doesn't run quite as fast, but we'll discuss that more in just a moment. What's more, t here are also a few differences between this year's mini and last year's model, one of which is size and weight. At x And whereas the iPad Air is much lighter than its predecessor, the new mini gains 29 grams from last year's model. This may seem odd if little else has changed under the hood, but the new mini features a much larger battery Don't let the dimensions fool you, though -- unless you're playing with them side by side and actively looking for differences, you won't be able to tell.
The unibody aluminum enclosure has also remained unchanged, which means it's as solidly built as ever. That said, we've noticed that the back doesn't heat up as much during gaming and other activities as it used to. That means the mini is even more comfortable to use -- and it was pretty easy to handle even the first time around. It's worth noting that we also noticed this drop-off in heat dissipation on the iPad Air, so this may very well be a by-product of the A7 chip that's present in both devices.
Under the hood, WiFi performance has been dramatically improved thanks to multiple-input multiple-output MIMO technology, which is a fancy way of saying that your WiFi can now take advantage of two antennas instead of one. The theoretical max is Mbps, although few people will have the means or need to take advantage of speeds that fast. This tech is quickly becoming popular in flagship phones and tablets, so it's good to see Apple adopt it now.
The company also inserted a second mic for noise canceling, which is ideal for videos, FaceTime calls and Siri voice recognition. The review unit provided to us by Apple was a cellular model, which features much better compatibility with global LTE providers than the original. In years past, iOS devices were spread out across several different SKUs, each one carrying a specific set of frequencies to ensure compatibility with hundreds of operators around the globe.
A and B. If you're not sure of a carrier's network settings, don't fret: The mini will detect which network you're using and download the proper settings for you. Just like with the iPad Air, the home button looks the same as on earlier models. Normally this might not be worth pointing out, but in this case it's significant because it means Touch ID aka the iPhone fingerprint sensor remains exclusive to the iPhone 5s.
Whether this is due to supply constraints or it's something Apple doesn't think iPad users want, the company isn't saying. Still, we've enjoyed Touch ID on the 5s and can't wait to see it eventually implemented in iPads. High-resolution displays are a must-have on premium tablets these days -- since inexpensive devices like the Nexus 7 offer beautiful panels with 1, x 1, resolution, we're happy to see the mini's screen get a much-needed bump to Retina status.
By the numbers, the mini features a 2, x 1, display and boasts a pixel density of pixels per inch. In comparison, this is twice the density of the original mini's ppi. What's more, the new mini has the same exact resolution as the iPad Air, but because the Air's screen is larger, it has a lower pixel density of ppi. The mini also matches the Nexus 7's pixel density, even with a screen that's an inch larger. Even though numbers don't always match up with user experience, they're quite telling here.
The 1, x display on last year's model wasn't horrible, but our tired eyes were yearning for a nicer experience for consuming photos and video, and reading text. As you might expect, doubling up the pixel density is not only easily noticeable; it's also refreshing. High-definition videos look glorious; fonts have never looked sharper; and images that show fantastic details on the new mini simply look fuzzy on the old mini. There's very little difference in color reproduction however, but then again, it was already pretty good on last year's model, so we're quite happy with the results.
All told, this is one of the best displays we've seen on a tablet. Though our unit came with iOS 7. Since it's a simple bug fix, the user interface remains unchanged. In general, though, you'll notice slight improvements in the overall user experience thanks to the faster A7 chip and M7 coprocessor.
We'll discuss those points later in the review. Imaging is another area where the new iPad mini and the iPad Air share identical components. Apple's industrial yet minimalist design continues with second-generation iPad mini. The front panel is plain, containing just the display, home button and front-facing camera, yet it looks as good as any previous iPad.
Even though this model has been released after the iPhone 5s, there's no Touch ID fingerprint sensor, meaning there's no quick and secure unlocking method here. The back features a typical tablet design: camera in the top left, shiny Apple logo in the middle, iPad branding at the bottom. With the front covered in protective glass, the back is equally tough thanks to its aluminium construction; aluminium which not only feels great to touch, but gives the iPad its usual premium look.
For this review I opted for a "space grey" model, which is lighter in color compared to the slate grey of the previous model, and looks fantastic. You get a black bezel around the display, which differs from the silver model that is paired with a white bezel, but both look great. I prefer the space grey design, however it really comes down to personal choice when picking a color for your tablet.
Around the edges is the usual arrangement of elements. The top edge has the power button and the headphone jack, the bottom has the Lightning connector and speaker grills, the left side is blank and the right side has the volume buttons and hold switch. All the buttons are accessible and feel solid to use, but it's disappointing that there are only speakers on the right-hand side when the device is in landscape.
Stereo speakers would be welcome on this media-centric device, however at least the large dual grill makes it hard to muffle the speaker when you're holding it for gaming. While there is the single-speaker issue, I generally have nothing but praise for the iPad mini with Retina display's design. It's well built, thanks to its premium aluminium construction, and nearly the perfect size for a portable, smaller tablet. I really like the space grey color option, with small but still functional black bezels and large display coverage.
The biggest upgrade to the iPad mini comes in the form of the display, which is now branded as 'Retina'. In other words, the pixel density of the panel has received a significant bump from pixels per inch ppi to ppi, thanks to an increase in resolution to x ; the same resolution as the iPad Air. With over three times the original pixel count, the display should be significantly improved.
Pretty much any display that has over pixels per inch looks great, especially those that are included on tablets. Generally you view a tablet further away from your eyes than a smartphone, which allows tablets more room to look awesome with lower pixel densities, and at ppi the iPad mini definitely looks awesome. Text is crisp, images are crisp, videos are crisp, apps are crisp: basically, the sharpness is as fantastic as you've come to expect from previous Retina displays, and even better than the iPad Air.
The aspect ratio of the iPad mini's display still remains , which isn't ideal for watching most videos unless you enjoy significant letterboxing. However, a standard video still takes up 7. Where the aspect ratio shines is in applications and web browsing, as more information is displayed on the screen, yet the tablet can still be held more comfortably than an 8-inch tablet.
As far as the quality of the display is concerned, there are a few issues with the color gamut as some other publications have noticed , which causes images to appear less saturated and vibrant as competing devices. Essentially the Retina iPad mini, like the first-generation iPad mini before it, falls short of reproducing the full sRGB color spectrum.
Most other competing tablet displays, including the iPad Air, have a near-sRGB color gamut, so the iPad mini is noticeably lacking in this area. While it can be proven through a colorimeter that the iPad mini's display doesn't have a full sRGB color gamut, will you notice it in everyday usage? In my time with the new Retina display, I found the moderate lack of saturation in images to be reasonably noticeable by itself, and very noticeable when compared with other displays like full-sized iPads, the Nexus 7 and my desktop PC monitors.
When browsing the web and using apps it's thankfully less of an issue, but people who demand quality will find the color quality of the iPad mini disappointing.