The iPad Mini is Here!

Category: Gadgets , Mobile

Apple unveiled the long-awaited iPad Mini on October 23, 2012. The smaller, cheaper version of the popular tablet will be available for pre-order on November 1. Here's what you need to know about the Mini, and how it compares to other 7-inch tablets...

Review: Apple's iPad Mini

The iPad Mini measures 7.9 inches diagonally, two inches smaller than its big brother. It is 7.2 mm thick, about the same as a Number 2 pencil. It weighs only 0.68 pounds, roughly half the weight of the fourth-generation iPad. (We’re on generation three right now; gen 4 was announced at the same time as the Mini.)

The iPad Mini has two cameras. A front-facing HD camera is designed for use with FaceTime. The rear-facing 5-megapixel iSight camera can shoot video in 1080p HD. The iPad Mini’s dual-core A5 processor is the same as that in the iPad 2.

The much-admired Retina display is NOT included in the iPad Mini. Instead, 1024x768 display is the same as the iPad 2’s. But unlike the iPad 2, the Mini is equipped with Apple’s new 5-pin connector, which is also in the iPhone 5 and upcoming fourth-generation iPad.
iPad Mini Review

The iPad Mini WiFi version ranges in price from $329 to $519, depending on how much memory is included; options include 16, 32, or 64 GB. Add another $130 for 4G LTE capability, plus the cost of a carrier contract. Battery life is touted as 10 hours. The iPad Mini comes in either black or white.

Dead on Arrival?

Steve Jobs might not approve of the iPad Mini. It was almost exactly two years ago that he said “7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad... the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA — dead on arrival.” He also reportedly said that users would “have to sand down their fingers” to use such a small tablet properly.

But Steve Jobs is dead, and Apple wants to survive in the hotly contested mobile devices market. Apple realizes that it cannot afford to ignore the low end of the tablet market, which is currently dominated by two major players. See my reviews of Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7 tablet. It's entirely possible that Jobs made his famous remarks about 7-inch tablets in an attempt to discourage others from making them, while knowing full well that Apple would eventually do so. Some have speculated that the iPad Mini must certainly have been in development back in October 2010 when Jobs was dissing it.

Apple is not competing on price, of course. The Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 start at $199, but at that price you get a pretty minimal machine. The iPad Mini’s options start at the high end of its competitors ranges, and establish a middle tier of price/performance between the full-sized iPad and the budget 7-inch tablets.

Will the 7-Inch Tablet Be a Success?

We can expect Amazon, Google, and other tablet makers to meet Apple’s challenge in this new middle ground. That overall form factor will be “something that fits in one (average-sized) hand.” Into that form factor, mini tablet makers will cram more and more features. Soon, users will have many ways to eat their morning cereal while watching Netflix, or flicking Angry Birds across the 7-inch expanse of their tablet devices.

The iPad Mini has arrived just in time for the holiday buying frenzy. It will be interesting to see how it impacts sales of the larger iPad, and how well it does with customers who are seeking a pocket-sized tablet -- not necessarily an Apple product. For many customers, a mid-size $199 tablet that allows one to surf the web, manage email, play games, watch movies and read ebooks will be very appealing. If you already have an Android-based smartphone, these non-Apple alternatives seem almost a no-brainer. But for those who already own an Apple iPod or iPhone, spending the extra $130 on the iPad Mini may be a good fit.

What's your take on the iPad Mini? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "The iPad Mini is Here!"

Posted by:

24 Oct 2012

I believe anyone who pays that much money for a mini likes to throw money away! I have a generic 7" tablet from Mediatek, ordered from China on eBay. It has HDMI output, GPS, bluetooth, wifi, flash, FM, Android 4.0, 1024 x 600 resolution, two cameras, 4GB expandable to 32 with TF card, AND it has two SIM cards. Yes! It can be a telephone, too--or connect to a 3G network. Price? I bought it for $189.00 I am very pleased with it.

Posted by:

J. B. Van Wely
24 Oct 2012

I've had a Lenovo A7 for better than 9 months. It's a 7" tablet running Android, wifi only, with bluetooth and a 32gig SD card.

It cost less than $200 (currently $159 from Lenovo).

I use it as an extension of my phone. I've got a bluetooth keyboard for it but seldom use it.

I love the form factor, and it does everything a tablet is supposed to do.

So what's the big deal about Apple just now jumping on the bandwagon?

Posted by:

24 Oct 2012

I bought a dirt cheap ($89 at Big Lots) Polaroid tablet. It's low res (800 X 480), wi-fi only running Android 4.0. I got it to see if a 7 inch tablet was something I would use. For anyone who doesn't have a tablet yet I'd recommend getting something like this first. It doesn't cost much more than buying a tablet for dummies book. If you find it useful then go spend the bucks on a good tablet. You can choose Android or Apple based on some knowledge of how you'll use it rather than the sales pitch. I haven't found much that recommends this form factor to me personally.

Posted by:

claudio meda
24 Oct 2012

Please can you give a review on the 7" tablets Galaxy by Samsung. ? thank you , it looks much better performer of all these , Claudio Meda.

Posted by:

25 Oct 2012

Could you also compare it to the iPhone 5? Wondering which is better, a computer that works as a phone or a phone that works as a computer?

Posted by:

26 Oct 2012

I have an iPad, my husband got a Samsung Galaxy. Yes he likes the size... However, he doesn't use it nearly as much and makes frustrated comments about its interface.
We are both experienced computer/tech users and he works in IT. He is now eyeing the mini. We both have iPhones and after an android I really thought I wouldn't be interested. I would fight you for it now!
There is much to be said for a smooth working interface (especially after fighting w/PCs at school all day). If you haven’t actually used one to compare with others, I would really suggest trying them out for ease of use. In my experience the iDevices come out way ahead!

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