Getting hands-on with the iPad mini could just as easily be called a ‘hand-on’, since it’s so easy to hold it one-handed and tap with the other hand. The first thing you notice when you pick it up is just how thin and light it is. With a smooth aluminium back, you feel like you could flip it like a coin, or spin it on your palm.
In term of design, the Ipad mini is more like the iPhone 5 than previous iPad, featuring an all-black rear case for the black version and a silver one for the white, with chamfered edges arouund the edge of the display. Like the iPad 2 and 4, it features a set of magnets on the side for use with Apple’s Smart Cover (and other accessories), though the change in size means it has a new Smart Cover without the visible metal hinge.
iPad Mini Review – The Design
You can grip iPad mini with a couple of fingers on the bottom, or even strecth your hand across the back as if you’re holding an iPhone 5 or iPod Touch. It’s 13.5cm wide and feels nicely balanced at 20cm high, weighing just 308g or 312g for the cellular version. This makes it even better as an e-reader than the larger iPad models, since you can hold the iPad mini in one hand for much longer before feeling fatigued.
The aluminium back meets the glass front at the super-shiny, diamond polished chamfer reminiscent of the one on the iPhone 5. The white version has a matte silver back, while the black version’s charcoal aluminium back matches the black iPhone 5 perfectly.
Unlike many other recent smaller tablets, such as Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, the Ipad mini sports an aspect ratio of 4:3 rather than 16:9. Apple’s reasoning here is that the wider screen (in portrait orientation) gives you more room for content. On the flipside, this does mean you inevitably suffer letterboxing when watching widescreen, 16:9-ratio video, so there’s a trade-off.
In our testing, we noticed that typing on the smaller onscreen buttons and keys will take a bit of getting used to – assuming you’re already using an iPad before. But of course, they’re smaller, but still tappable. Actually the buttons you’re aiming at aren’t any smaller than they’d be on an iPhone or iPod Touch. In fact everything, down to the apps icons on the Home Screen, is smaller than on the iPad 4 – especially as these float in the a 4×5 grid with generous space around them. But then that’s another trade-off for having a smaller and lighter device, of course.
The thin bezels on either side of the screen (when held in portrait) give you enough on an area to grip while still minimizing how far your finger will have to stretch to reach the screen’s edges. The screen is bright and bold, with the deep black and sharp text, although it’s not quite iPad 4-quality.
The Difference Compared to Fullsize iPad
Dimensions > Given it’s name, you’d expect one of the main attractions of the iPad Mini to be it’s size and weight. It weighs just 308g (312 for the 3G version) and can easily be held in one hand. Its also 32 percent thinner and a whopping 53 percent lighter.
Cameras > Both cameras on iPad mini – the front facing FaceTime camera HD and the rear iSight camera – are identical to the iPad’s. The FaceTime camera, design for video chats, offers 1.2MP photos, 720p video and face detection. The iSight camera is for general shots, and sports 5MP, autofocus and a five-piece lens.
Screen > Obviously the screen of the iPad mini is smaller than the iPad’s, at 7.9 inches versus 9.7 inches, and it makes a difference to the resolution too. The mini doesn’t have a Retina display, instead opting for a res 1024 x 768 at 132ppi – the same as that of the iPad 2. As the image doesn’t look as sharp as the latest iPad.
Case and Controls > Like the iPhone 5, the mini uses anodised aluminium for its casing, which is very comfortable to hold and provides a bit more traction for gripping than a smoother surface. All the physical buttons, such as the volume rockers, on/off and sleep/wake buttons, and screen lock, together with the headphone socket, are in the same place as the iPad.
Lightning Connector > After nine years, Apple decided to replace the old dock connector used by older iPads (and iPhones). The new Lightning connector is 80 percent smaller than the old connector, saving space, and it’s also reversible. meaning that the cable doesn’t need to be the ‘right’ way around to plug it in.
What’s more, the Ipad mini runs native apps, has a whopping 10 hours of battery life on average, and is extremely light and portable. It’s also comfortable to hold for long periods of time and won’t lead to wrist fatigue when you’re watching a movie, which is exactly what you want from a portable device.
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