First iPad mini reviews

The first set of iPad mini reviews are now hitting the web and so far, so good. Obviously, it's an iPad only smaller -- or more concentrated, as Apple said. But how does it compare to other small tablets, and to the 9.7-inch iPad? Here's a roundup of opinions so far

The Loop's Jim Dalrymple says he was wrong to doubt the usefulness of an iPad mini:

I was really surprised with how much I used the iPad mini in my daily routine — more than the 10-inch iPad. There are a couple of things you have to remember with the iPad mini. First, it isn’t just a smaller iPad, but rather it feels like its own device.

Daring Fireball's John Gruber says the iPad mini is amazing in every way, except for the non-Retina screen:

If the Mini had a retina display, I’d switch from the iPad 3 in a heartbeat. As it stands, I’m going to switch anyway. Going non-retina is a particularly bitter pill for me, but I like the iPad Mini’s size and weight so much that I’m going to swallow it.

Fox News Clayton Morris says the iPad mini is small but it performs big:

After a few days I started to prefer the mini to my larger iPad despite its lack of a Retina screen. It even made my larger iPad look old fashioned. Awkwardly large. The mini is fast, impressively light -- weighing in at just over 10 ounces -- and easy to keep with me at all times. The only thing I don't enjoy as much with the mini is watching videos. It seems the crystal-clear Retina display in the newer (and larger) iPads has spoiled me.

TechCrunch's MG Siegler says that with the iPad mini, Apple is putting the pedal to the metal.

Apple has done a good job of making the case that the iPad mini is not just another 7-inch tablet — in fact, it’s not a 7-inch tablet at all. It’s a 7.9-inch tablet — a subtle, but important difference. As a result, it can utilize every iOS app already in existence. And it can access the entire iTunes ecosystem. And it will be sold in Apple Stores.

Apple isn’t looking at this as $329 versus $199. They’re looking at this as an impossibly small iPad 2 sold at the most affordable price for an iPad yet. In other words, they’re not looking at the tablet competition. This isn’t a tablet. It’s an iPad. People love these things.

Time's Harry McCracken says the iPad mini is the first small tablet that's an iPad:

If your budget’s got more wiggle room, the iPad Mini is the best compact-sized tablet on the market. Apple didn’t build yet another bargain-basement special; it squeezed all of the big iPad’s industrial-design panache, software polish and third-party apps, and most of its technology, into a smaller thinner, lighter, lower-priced model. The result may be a product in a category of one — but I have a hunch it’s going to be an awfully popular category.

The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg says that, with the iPad mini, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat:

The $329 price may well tempt some budget-conscious buyers who have lusted for an iPad. But Apple believes the lower size and weight, not the price, are the key attractions. If you love the iPad, or want one but just found it too large or heavy, the iPad mini is the perfect solution.

The Verge's Joshua Topolsky says the iPad mini isn't a step down from the iPad 4, but a step to the side.

There's no tablet in this size range that's as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who's been living with (and loving) Google's Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don't say that lightly.

The iPad mini hasn't wrapped up the "cheapest tablet" market by any stretch of the imagination. But the "best small tablet" market? Consider it captured.

Engadget's Tim Stevens says the iPad mini brings everything Apple has to offer in a tablet that fits in one hand.

This isn't just an Apple tablet made to a budget. This isn't just a shrunken-down iPad. This is, in many ways, Apple's best tablet yet, an incredibly thin, remarkably light, obviously well-constructed device that offers phenomenal battery life. No, the performance doesn't match Apple's latest and yes, that display is a little lacking in resolution, but nothing else here will leave you wanting. At $329, this has a lot to offer over even Apple's more expensive tablets.

CNET's Scott Stein says the iPad mini is the perfect size but comes at a price:

If you want a tiny tablet to do everything but make calls, the iPad Mini is worth the $130 premium. For an e-reader plus apps, choose a cheaper, higher-resolution 7-inch tablet.

BusinessWeek's Rich Jaroslovsky says the iPad mini is thin and light but not cheap:

I can tell you the iPad mini is the best small tablet you can buy. The question you’ll have to answer for yourself is whether it’s that much better.

SlashGear's Vincent Nguyen says the iPad mini is aimed at the everyman:

In the end, it’s about an overall package, an experience which Apple is offering. Not the fastest tablet, nor the cheapest, nor the one that prioritizes the most pixel-dense display, but the one with the lion’s share of tablet applications, the integration with the iOS/iTunes ecosystem, the familiarity of usability and, yes, the brand cachet. That’s a compelling metric by which to judge a new product, and it’s a set of abilities that single the iPad mini out in the marketplace. If the iPad with Retina display is the flagship of Apple’s tablet range, then the iPad mini is the everyman model, and it’s one that will deservedly sell very well.

The Guardian's Charles Arthur says the iPad mini is a five-star device:

Apple is going to sell a lot of these – quite possibly more than the "large" iPad – in this quarter. The only way Apple could improve on this product would be (as some people are already agitating) to give it a retina screen and somehow make it lighter. That might happen at some point. You can wait if you like; other people, in the meantime, will be buying this one.

If I missed any, let me know and I'll add them in. So far, so good though.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

First iPad mini reviews


Getting tired of people calling the ipad mini a small ipad2. Its more like a small ipad 3. Same cameras and specs minus the resolution.

Yea, I like the 2.5 better. My question is about the maps. Since there is no GPS chipset, do the maps just work using Wifi?

I dont know why there is lot of confusion regarding this..but all ipad wifi models irrespective of being ipad 4th gen or ipad mini have a functioning gps when connected to a network wifi or tethered...unlike their lte counterparts that have a different chipset that functions all the time.

I'm not an Apple hater or anything, and I love my iPad, but come on man. The same thing all these reviewers criticize about other tablets they promote as "features" of this tablet. It's getting ridiculous that all Apple has to do is put their logo on something and it instantly gets praise.

One reviewer writes "Not the fastest tablet, nor the cheapest, nor the one that prioritizes the most pixel-dense display". Yet the review is written in such a tone that makes everything sounds like a benefit, no matter what it is.

Anyway, this is why Samsung makes commercials mocking Apple users. It should be the media they mock; not the users.

The media set the tone for the users all too often. It can argued that Apple's very existence thru the lean years was from the very small but overly obsessed media types at places like Macworld & the old BBS precursors to the internet. Their continued vocal support for Apple, & open hatred of anything else like Microsoft especially, is the primary reason the divide between the 2 camps got so polarizing.

There'll be plenty to argue these points with me. But anybody who worked in the tech sector at the time, as I did & still do, remembers this well. The overwhelming majority of Apple users today have no connection to that history & are scarcely aware of it. Their love affair with Apple started with an iPod & iTunes.

You can almost certainly put most of these 'tech journalists' in the category of bandwagon riders. Rene & others here are probably exceptions to that rule. But the Walt Mossburgs, Molly Woods, & Ida Frieds of the blogosphere are following the crowds.

I disagree that Apple's existence owes much to the few friendly media types in the 'lean years'. I think it is more due to die-hard users who recognized that what Apple had was much better and stuck with it (even when Apple's CEOs and management were making that awfully hard).

But, yea, the media sets the tone for most things today, not just computers. This is because people, for the most part, don't think deeply, consistently, or logically any longer.

Man... I'm still hesitant, I can't make up my mind. 32GB Nexus 7 or 32GB iPad Mini I love both ecosystems but the lack of support from Google for music and books in Mexico is a major turn down.

I kind of agree about the bias. Many have said that the Retina Display was so good that they couldn't go to a non-Retina device, again. This was when Retina debuted on the iPhone.

Now, they're saying that it's okay that the mini lacks Retina because it's so small - as if the iPhone isn't smaller.

By the way, Molly Wood has been vocal about her displeasure with some of Apple's products and practices. In fact, she was the main person I used to hear complain that Apple NEEDS to make the iPad smaller and lighter. This was when it debuted so it was well before the 7-inch alternatives help define that niche market.

Retina matters MUCH more on a phone, as you're already so compromised on work-space. If your eyes are good enough, you can take advantage of that to read web pages and such. As you approach a more normal amount of work-space, the need for Retina becomes more of a nicety. It's nice to have but not necessary. My big LCD at my desk is far from Retina, but I'm doing OK with it. ;)

And for a reader type device, which the Mini is more of, retina would be even more desired. The big ipad is used from a longer distance.

Wow! I can't wait to check out your spam site. I think I will visit it on this computer and every computer in the house just so you can install some ad ware. You are so cool that I think no one on this site will realize it's spam.

Someone, please, set spam filter = on.

"Time's Harry McCracken". Really? Sounds like a name Sal and Richard from Howard Stern wold use when calling TRadio.

Sir Harden Thicke just put out his review and said the iPad Mini is "absolutely brilliant". Come on Rene, when is iMore going to join the big boy club and be able to get a pre-release unit to review? Harry McCracken gets one and probably his brother Ernie aka "Big Ern". And yes I made $6,400 last week spamming message boards and so can you!