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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.

  • It's the absolute hands down best computing device I've ever owned.
  • I bought iPad4 because of the retina display, but I am of envy with the iPad mini with its size and Plus Portability factor.
  • I would totally agree with you on that. I have had both the iPad 4 and mini. I ended up staying with the iPad 4 but I do miss my iPad Mini. Maybe I will who knows.
  • This is by FAR my favorite tablet I've owned (and I've had iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3, HP Touchpad, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, Galaxy Tab 7 Plus, Blackberry Playbook, Motorola Xyboard 8.2, HTC Evo View 4G, and a Nexus 7)! My wife and I both have iPad Mini's, and for personal use, I don't see either of us ever going back to the larger, regular iPad (However, I could see the larger screen being more useful for some people who are in an office situation). The lack of retina hasnt bothered me at all. My only "complaint" (if you can call it that) is that the processor in the mini seems a bit laggy in comparison to my iPhone5; But I am nit-picking here. I will likely pick up the 2nd generation Mini as well, mainly for a faster processor. If it has retina too, then i guess that's great... as long as the battery life and weight don't suffer.
  • I have owned an ipad 3 for about a year now and I really like it. A couple of weeks I bought my girlfriend an ipad mini and I have to say that I'm thinking of selling my own ipad and buying the mini instead. It's portability is probably the number one reason I like the ipad mini so much. Yes, I could wait until later in the year for the proposed "retina display " version but to be honest the current one's screen is pretty good already. The ipad mini will pick up even more traction as the year goes on, leaving the ipad in its wake.
  • Love it, wish it was a little smaller though
  • Then it would be called an iPhone5. 8-)
  • My first iPad was the Mini a few months ago. 3 Weeks ago my wife wanted the mini, so i bought an iPad4. How do i get the mini back from my wife????? I played with the mini last night and miss the lightness and the ability to hold it with 1 hand without getting cramps.
  • take the 4 back to the Apple Store and trade it??
  • When I first saw the iPad 1, I thought "Wow that's small." Now that I've used the iPad mini for a few months, when I lift an iPad 4 I think "Wow that's huge. And heavy." As for Retina / non-Retina, I don't think the iPad mini needs a Retina display for readability or for beautiful graphics. It will be interesting to see what Apple does with the next iPad mini. Do they keep it at 1x resolution and drop the price? Or do they go Retina and keep the price the same (or raise the price)?
  • I just bought one this past weekend. I thought the lack of retina display would in fact be a dealbreaker, but I picked it up, started using it and fell in love. It is so much more portable. Don't get me wrong, the minute the next iPad Mini is released with retina display, I'm all over it. But until then, I'm certainly enjoying my current iPad Mini.
  • Looks like I'll be more contrarian than what's been posted in the article + the comments. I have an iPad 3rd Generation and bought an iPad mini for my young son/wife to use. As it turns out, I've used the iPad mini more than either of the two in my family. I like it a lot; but I've found myself wanting to use the 3rd gen iPad more than the mini. Perhaps it's because I've turned into a "Retina Display Snob" (I also have an iPhone 5 & a high res, though not true Retina, MacBook Pro), but given the choice I wish to use the full-sized iPad over the mini every time. If the full-sized iPad could be as thin & light as the mini but still Retina, I'd be interested. But for watching video, looking at photos, and getting work done, I prefer the full-sized iPad. I do find typing in portrait mode easier on the iPad mini, I'll give it that; and video/photos still look great on the mini. But after using the mini for extended periods, the smaller size/lighter weight falls to the wayside and I long for the Retina display.
  • "No, sir. . . I don't like it." The screen is too small for me; it's too hard to tap certain screen elements, such as short entries in the Bookmarks Bar in Safari. Can't wait for the iPad 5 to come out, at which time I will return to the full-size iPad.
  • i was not sold on a mini but after using one in the store it's growing on me. I don't care about retina.
  • I've gone back and forth on buying a Mini since they came out. I have an iPad 3 and an iPod Touch so I feel like I can wait until the Mini 2 comes out. I've played with the Mini at the Apple Store and i'm really impressed with the form factor of the Mini so I will be getting one in the future.
  • After playing with the mini for a while at my local Apple Store I wanted to sell my iPad_3. The mini is just so much better for one-handed use like reading. I will probably end up trading into one if a still-lightweight Retina version comes out.
  • The iPad mini is the first tablet I have ever owned and it actually made me want a tablet for the first time in my life.. I always had it in my head that your smartphone can do what these so call "tablets" can do but boy was I wrong.. I got my first iPod 2 years ago which was the iPod touch 4th gen and over time I started wanting a bigger screen to do all my reading and video watching, when the iPad mini was announced I thought here's my chance get the mini it's what you should have.. I love my decision, traded in my iPod touch for the mini same size 32gb and loving every inch of this device. I recently purchased the iPod nano 7gen for music in my car and workouts.. The mini is a EXCELLENT device and I don't care about retina display or anything it's fine the way it is.. Worth every penny!
  • Going forward.. there are now "Two Classes" of iPad.. The Mini will not get a Retina display in 2013.. It will happen in 2014 / 2015 when battery technology advances enough to fit inside the current dimensions of the Mini without adding thickness and weight but also provide the same 9 - 10 hrs of batterylife we currently enjoy (Remember a Retina Display Mini would have to push 3.1 Million Pixels as opposed to the current 756k of Pixels the Mini's battery has to push now) And it will always be a generation or two behind the Flagship iPad or otherwise it make no sense to have them both for sale with equal specs and one selling for $170.00 cheaper (Starting Point) than the other.. I currently own a 64gb Black Slate Mini and it's still a fun device. Screen quality is within acceptable limits.. but I must admit, after spending some time messing with a 4th-Gen iPad, even my Middle-Aged eyes could tell a difference.. I am jailbroken and there are tweaks that can speed up the transistions while moving around in iOS considerably.. enough so that you'd think you had a major processor upgrade ( as fast as an iPad 4 ) so the Mini still does the job for me.. for now..
    I for one am axiously awaiting a Redesigned 5th Generation iPad ( Slightly thicker Mini frame design ) with an A7X Quad-Core CPu / Octacore GPu pushing iOS 7 and weighing around 1lb.. And I think Apple is primed to release just such a device.. And it will be Glorious. Hey Santa.. Ya Listening?
  • There is no battery tech coming in 2014. There are only going to be bigger phones with bigger batteries.
  • Ok.. Then 2015.. :-)
    Technology Advances EVERYDAY... :-)
  • how can I get that wallpaper?
  • Still waiting for the iPad Mini with retina display.
  • We have 3 full-size iPads in the house (I'm a developer) but the iPad mini wins for many tasks. I agree we probably won't see a retina mini this year, unless there's some major change in battery tech. The mini's main advantage is its weight and its would lose a lot of that benefit if its weight were increased by a stonking great battery. Peter
  • iPad Mini proved too small for me. I used it exclusively for a good three weeks, but realized my full-size iPad was a much better fit. Retina display - or lack thereof - had nothing to do with it. The only thing I enjoyed better on the Mini was reading a book, but with already having a Kindle, couldn't justify keeping the Mini around simply for reading. I do like the form factor better than the full-size iPad though and hope the next version of the full size incorporates the Mini look.
  • I know I'd love a mini but just can't justify it. I need the larger iPad, mainly for public speaking and lecture notes. That and the iPhone 5 will have to do me for now.
  • I traded in my iPad 3 for a mini. I love it, the size, the weight are perfect for me. I do miss retina display and also really miss the faster CPU and Ram. when the next model comes out with the iPad 4 specs I will buy it in a heart beat.
  • Like many of you, I watched the Keynote when the mini was unveiled and instantly started thinking of reasons to justify getting one. I owned a first gen iPad and used it all the time, but the lack of iOS 6 support and lack of camera were starting to wear on me slightly. Luckily I received a mini (wifi+cellular) for christmas and fell in love the moment I held it. I literally use it for everything now. The only thing that keeps me from ditching my mac mini altogether is my use for Handbrake and storing my movie library. However, using LogMeIn and RemoteHD apps prevent the need to actually sit in front of the mac mini.
  • The mini is too small for me in every way. Causually and professionally. I don't particularly like the smaller (ipad specific) touch targets and find myself having to "zoom" in Safari quite often. Even when whiteboarding or taking notes at work, I prefer the larger screen area for content. I'll take a lighter iPad Senior any day of the week.
  • The iPad Mini is the first iPad I've owned. It replaced my Asus Transformer, which was a decent tablet at first, but subsequent updates seemed to slow down considerably. As I'd replaced my Android phone with an iPhone in September I decided to try the Mini as a Christmas gift to myself and frankly I couldn't be happier with it's performance. It has replaced my laptop for everything but remoting into my office. I find the screen more than adequate for browsing the web, reading my RSS feeds and keeping up with Facebook. I recently traveled for work and watched quite a bit of video on the plane and at the hotel and the picture was great. I might eventually upgrade to a Retina model if one becomes available, but it's not something I feel I'm missing. This is just a great tablet all-around and I'm very happy with my purchase.
  • Except for the comic book comment, I haven't seen much reviews of the mini for magazine reading. I love that, thru my library (via Zinio), I can get a bunch of great mags (Nat'l. Geographic, Rolling Stone, The Nation, Smithsonian, etc.) and find that that I prefer reading them (on iPad3) as mag pages, with perhaps of touch of zoom (my eyes are pretty good) rather than using the "text" feature. I haven't tried, but can't imagine that working for me on the mini, even if they Retinize it this year. Anyone have experience with magazines on the mini? The size seems great.. I'm hoping the next iPad drops some weight and width to be easier to hold.
  • I use Zinio on my iPad Mini and depending on the article I go back and forth from text only and zooming in and out of its regular layout. It isn't much of an inconvenience for me.
  • I had exactly the same reservations as you Rene. When coming from an iPad 3 and being used to the brilliant retina screen and then going to a non-retina screen seemed idiotic at first.
    But after I got to use a demonstration model at a store, I was actually quite impressed with the screen, the overall speed and of couse the weight of the mini.
    That convinced me enough to get one and I barely use my iPad 3 since then. And when the next iPad mini has a retina screen (like we all know it will), that just makes it come that much closer to it being the perfect tablet.
  • I love my iPad. I am so glad I decided to sell my Asus Transformer Prime and buy the iPad mini.
  • There's ipad case that made of washable kraft paper material for for ifans.
    Is there anyone who love this kind of cases or buy any one case of this kind? If ok pls advise on this of case.
  • We got iPads as soon as they came out. Revolutionary to be sure. We got iPad2 units to round out our educational program. Spent the first semester teaching in an iPad 1:1 school - finally looked to find out these were iPad Retinas. It's not evident in everyday use. Just got a Mini. Hands down the best form factor for a tablet. I keep it with me, can leave my MacBook behind for meetings, trips, most everything except web editing and a few particular sites. My iPhone is now relegated to phone (what a concept) and GPS unit. Typing for me is no worse than an iPad.
  • I jumped on the first iPad and owned it for a few years. After it became outdated I passed it on to my 13 year old cousin and bought myself a Nexus 7 and what a mistake that was. I handed my Nexus 7 to my mother (who only uses it to read) and went out and purchased a white 32GB iPad Mini LTE for Verizon, I can tell you I haven't looked back. Its by far the best tablet I've ever owed, the weight and size combination has made it a mainstay in my daily bag. I used to use my iPhone for everything let it be news, games, sending emails to professors etc.. and after the iPad mini came its been relegated to just a phone and a GPS, also occasionally playing Dots.
  • Have Ipad 2 & 3. Bought the Ipad Mini, tried it for 2 weeks and returned it. The only issue was it was too small for what I like- for internet, games, email, and as an e-reader. And, my vision is excellent. It's just too small for working with it for hours at a time, at least for me. I'll stick with the current size screen, have everything Apple (desktop, laptops, iPhone 5) but this one is not a "fit" for me.....
  • I'm looking forward to a smaller, thinner, lighter 9.7" iPad myself!
  • I got my white 32g iPad mini as a birthday present to myself, having 3 apple laptops and the iPhone 5 I'm apple mad and wanted the iPad mini to add to my apple family, I didn't think I'd use it as much having the phone and my main MacBook for searching the web, I got it mainly for storage for movies on the go and round the house but after a week it became the centre of my digital world, it goes everywhere with me all of the time, I use it constantly watching TV, watching movies, reading books, playing games, listening to music, social networking and searching the web. I hardly touch my MacBooks any more and my iPhone only gets used to call and txt, I used to use my iPhone for all the things I use my iPad for now. Best apple iv ever bought its defiantly paid for its self 10 times over and I will be getting another one when needed 110% :)
  • I have had an iPad, iPad 3, Nexus 7 and iPad Mini. The Nexus was okay and I knew the smaller size was the way forward but I just didn't get on with Andorid plus the widescreen aspect ratio made sense for video but not a lot else on a tablet. The iPad Mini is a great size with your usual iOS smoothness. At home I use it all the time. I hardly ever use it at work, but at work I am on my laptop all day. I rarely open my MacBook at home. The only thing I use my MacBook for now is as my media centre and a place for editing photos and visiting the odd website which cannot display on the iPad. My wife used it because she didn't particularly get on with the Nexus 7 and then the screen cracked in her bag. As a big book reader she really missed a tablet like device. So yesterday I got her an iPad Mini. Hopefully she will enjoy it more than the Nexus 7 like I do! I would only consider a full sized iPad if it could completely replace my laptop. Until then I am happy with my MacBook, iPad Mini and iPhone combination.
  • Do you know what it feels like for a relationship of 4 years to be broken???????? If you were deeply in love with this handsome capable man but kinda poor and you both starts to date and you guys are in relationship going over to 4 years and then through your influence, you got him a job, he's working and a time comes, he is financially blessed but during this time, he starts being dodging you and on a fateful night, he tells you that he is tired being with you that you are kinda old and he doesn't wanna marry you........ what will be your reaction towards him???????????????????????????
    When this happened to me, my heart was more than broken, i couldn't sleep, it was like the world was against me. Infact, suicide ran through my mind. I did really loved my man, i tried to hate him and erase him from my mind but it wasn't possible because our love together left footprint on my heart. He really meant alot to me and i never wanted to lose him. But I tried to make sure i get him back but He busied my calls, ignored my emails and texts. And during this period, i was in depression but i never knew my relationship was gonna be restored and that same day, The day i will never forget [6TH OF JULY] when i watched on television, an African network station which published testimonies of many people across the world who were in problems and how one Africa Most Powerful Spell lord [LORD ESIENDO] did help them. Though i was thinking how distant i were, i summoned courage to reach this Great African Spell Lord. Lo and behold i was been given directions on how to go and as i was been told by LORD ESIENDO, my heart desire, my man did return to me on the 11th of July.
    Indeed i have never encountered before now any form of rapid action like that of LORD ESIENDO and please do yourself good today by getting in touch with LORD ESIENDO in HOODOOSPELLCASTS@OUTLOOK.COM for if my relationship can be restored, i see no reason why your problem, whatever it may be can always find cure in LORD ESIENDO and believe it or not; LORD ESIENDO is gonna make things right FOR YOU AS YOU WILL DESIRED. And lest i ignores introduction, i am Sara Goldie and i publish from Ashburn, VA......
  • on ipad mini 4 gen i can no longer add to my bookmarks bar. i have items in the bar and it is activated in settings but when i want to add to the bar it isn't there. i click on the share button, choose bookmark then when i click on bookmarks there is no bookmarks bar option. how can i get this option back? how to manage existing bookmarks in the bar? anyone? tia, j
    my husband asked to pack out of the house with my kids and go because he wasn’t interested in me anymore. He said all the abusive words and said am not a good wife because I wasn’t working, instead I was wasting his money so contacted this Strong Healer three days ago after reading Miracles about his spell over the net I consulted this strong man for a love spell, crying not knowing what to do. he told me that he will cast a return lover spell that same day. It didn’t take time for my husband to call me apologizing and begging me to come home. The tender that i was waiting for was approved and he started telling me that am a good wife so I must forgive him for the bad things he had said. My husband asked me to look for any University of my choice and will take care of my fees. Am thanking, for the Faith and Trust he showed me