iPad mini: 4 months later

Four months later, was the lack of Retina a deal-breaker, or has the iPad mini turned out to be the best tablet ever?

Back in October Apple introduced the iPad mini. We posted our iPad mini review, of course, and you told us how you felt about it in our iPad mini forums. But that was first blush. That was the romance and judgement of something new. It's been 4 months now. It's been a third of a year with a smaller, lighter form factor, and a non-Retina display. So it's time for a checkpoint. How has the iPad mini held up? If we dismissed it before, has it grown on us? If we embraced it, have we fallen out of love? How are we using, or not using, the iPad mini now, some 4 months later?

Chris Oldroyd

Chris’s gift picks: 2012 holiday guide

I don’t actually own an iPad mini, but we do have one in our household and so I have used it quite a bit. My first impression of the iPad mini still stands 4 months later -- I like it. As soon as I saw it revealed, I loved the thinness of it and the smaller size too.

Having now used it, I do feel that it is just a bit small for my personal needs; I watch a lot of video on my iPad 2 and take a lot of handwritten notes which is much easier to do on the larger screen. Having said that, the portability of the iPad mini is a really attractive option.

I will be replacing my iPad 2 when the next generation devices hit the market this year and I will have an important decision to make then. The whole Retina debate doesn’t bother me all that much but if the rumors are true, both devices will have it then anyway. The iPad mini is an awesome iPad there is no question about it but it may just be too small for me!

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler, editor-in-chief, webOS Nation

I picked up an iPad Mini on launch day and immediately fell in love. It's not a perfect tablet - there is no such thing - but I think it might very well be the best tablet out there.

I've already decided that come next generation I'll be grabbing a larger storage, LTE-enabled version and it's going to replace my in-car GPS (an aging and cranky TomTom unit - so sue me, I'm old fashioned) and my Verizon MiFi. I'm all for cutting back on the number of devices I carry around, and if I can take three devices and turn them into one, so much the better. I'm so much in love with my iPad Mini that I want it to do everything. That's the mark of a good product, no?

Ally Kazmucha

Ally's gift picks: 2012 holiday guide

When I first purchased an iPad mini, I really wasn't too sure how I would take to using it in my everyday workflow. My iPad 3 had always done well for me and I didn't really see myself replacing it this early in its lifecycle. I figured if I didn't use the iPad mini, I could always sell it.

After a few months, I actually find myself using both iPads regularly. My iPad 3 now stays at my office and gets used strictly as a point of sale and work tablet. I'll take it with me to Starbucks occasionally in order to get some writing done but now that keyboard cases are available for the iPad mini as well, that may change -- the mini is much easier to carry around.

While at home, I never really used my iPad 3 a whole lot. I do find myself using my iPad mini quite often though. The size is perfect for reading and lounging. I just always found my standard-sized iPad not as convenient for casual browsing and always ended up using my iPhone. Now, unless I need to make a call, my iPhone typically goes on the charger once I get home, and I pick up my iPad mini to relax.

Everyone's mileage may vary and most people certainly won't have a need to use two iPads on a regular basis but the iPad mini will fit many people's needs just fine for the price and the size.

Leanna Lofte

Leanna's gift picks: 2012 holiday guide

When the iPad mini was first announced, I was excited about a smaller, lighter, more portable iPad, but since it wasn't given a Retina display, I assumed I would only be my "purse iPad". When I picked mine up at the Apple Store, my first thought was "the cutest iPad, yet!", but I still didn't see myself choosing it over the gorgeous screen of my iPad 3 while at home.

I was totally wrong. In fact, I rarely use my iPad 3 these days. Yes, the screen is far superior on the iPad 3, but the size and weight of the iPad mini wins me over every time. It's perfect.

The iPad mini is also perfect for my 2-year-old daughter. For younger kids, iPads are easier to use than iPhones and iPod touches, but have always been a little heavy for them to handle. The iPad mini, however, is just right. It offers developing motor skills a larger screen without too much added bulk.

The iPad mini is the best iPad I've ever owned.


Georgia, senior editor

I loved the iPad mini when I first got it. Cute. Portable. Light. What's not to love? However, over time, I've stopped using it almost completely. When I want to work, I want my 11-inch MacBook Air. From writing to surfing the web, I want a real, old-school computer to help me get things done. And because of its size, it's almost as portable as a full-sized iPad anyway. When I want to game or do light work, I go to my iPad 3. The bigger screen is just better for gaming, better for surfing, and better for typing. When I want to be mobile, I go to my iPhone. As well as an iPad mini fits into a pocket or purse, the iPhone fits even better.

So, between my MacBook Air, iPad 3, and iPhone, there just wasn't any place in my life for the iPad mini.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie, Editor-in-Chief

When Apple announced the iPad mini, I thought the lack of Retina display would be a deal-breaker for me. I'm a design diva and I was sure 163ppi would be like sandpaper on my pupils. During the course of my initial iPad mini review, however, I found out I was wrong. Most of the time, after a few moments, I didn't even notice the lack of Retina. Aside from small text, I grew to barely notice it at all. I was too busy doing stuff.

The big boy iPad was always a laptop or tabletop device for me. I carried it in my bag to use as a mobile hotspot for my MacBook, and I pulled it out and sat up with it to read, watch videos, and otherwise enjoy myself when I wanted to relax. But I couldn't use it in bed -- it was heavy enough to tire my arms and dent my face -- or while walking around, Star Trek crewmember-like.

The iPad mini isn't. Because it's lighter and smaller, it's even better to keep in my bag as a mobile hotspot, and even better to use while lying down and walking around. I've even used the iPad mini as a phone, not as ideally as my iPhone, but more than well enough.

I've grown to use the iPad mini as my primary tablet. I use it for everything now, from surfing the web to gaming to reading to light blogging... you get the idea. There are only 3 things I still break out the iPad 4 for: reading comic books, which are designed for a size closer to the iPad 4's screen, watching epic-level video, which is more engrossing at a larger size, and for those rare occasions when I want to travel and get a good amount of work done without a laptop.

If I weren't still bound to my MacBook Pro. If I didn't still use Photoshop and Final Cut Pro far too much to cut my truck cord any time soon, I might find the full-sized iPad a better replacement. With my current use case, however, as something I need to fill the gap between laptop and phone, the iPad mini remains my go to.

Your iPad mini review, 4 months later?

Head on over to the iPad mini forum and give us your 4-months later review. We'll pick a few of the best ones and feature them on the blog this Saturday. The more opinions, the better, so hurry on over!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.