iPad Mini: Less Than Just the Same?


Faisal Ajam

On Oct. 23, 2012, the first major change to the iPad line was revealed. In San Jose, the iPad Mini was revealed by Tim Cook. Initial media response was varied. Gizmodo.com called it, “crazy expensive.”

Instantly, there were comparison charts all over the Internet that showed a side-by-side of the Mini and other 7-8 inch tablets. It wasn’t just the Mini that was getting criticism either; the iPad 4 (with lightning connector) was even thicker and heavier than before, albeit not by much. This was quite disappointing particularly when compared to the Mini. Aside from the blogosphere, what effect did the announcement have on consumers? One colleague of mine stated that she thought Apple was “just milking the money out of the iPad name.” Others praised it for being smaller than the iPad. What’s the real deal, though?

Let’s begin with what the device is. This is not a restricted iPad. It’s essentially an iPad 2 shrunk down from a 9.7-inch display to a 7.9-inch display. It came with the full version of iOS 6 and has the exact same internal specs as the iPad 2. Even the display, much to my dismay, is the same resolution. The smaller form factor does give it a higher pixel density (163 pixels per inch vs 132); however, this is certainly not the retina display that many of you with iPhones (4 and above) and iPads (3 and above) are used to. Another difference from the iPad 2 is the new Apple standard—the lightning connector. The new connector replaces the ancient 30-pin connection, but omits new technologies like USB 3.0, oddly enough. This means that none of your dock-accessories work anymore, but there’s always a price for moving forward. The cameras are also bumped up, as is the audio processor (Siri anyone?), and the graphics are enhanced, much akin to the chip found in the iPhone 5. However, the most significant and perhaps the defining feature of the Mini is, of course, the size.

As soon as the device was announced I had to see it, so I made a pseudo-pilgrimage to the nearest Apple store. As soon as I held it in my hands one word came to my mind. Perfect. It really was perfect. It was extraordinarily light at only 0.68lb (the iPad 4 is 1.44lb). This is thanks to the new manufacturing process Apple has implemented, which can also be found on the iPhone 5. You should all expect the iPad 5 (most likely a March announcement) to also implement the new design scheme. It wasn’t just the weight of the ipad Mini—the dimensions were so perfect. It wasn’t unwieldy, but it wasn’t small either.

This is the easily the advantage it holds over the regular iPad and the Nexus 7 (7-inch). The .9 difference in screen size may not sound that significant, but at a diagonal length it becomes significant. I knew I had to possess this device. It was what I was waiting for. Then I turned the screen on. A different word than the one I used previously emerged in my thoughts—horrendous. This is an absolutely miserable display. It holds the ancient resolution of 1024 by 768 found on old, clunky, and fat desktop monitors.

Steve Jobs certainly wouldn’t have done it this way. The iPad’s 2048 by 1536 pixel display is far superior. I can’t even put it in words. Compare FT to Trump Tower and then maybe you can get an idea of it. Deal breaker, period. A lot of you may think that this isn’t really a big deal, but remember that the Mini is primarily a reading device set to combat the Kindle, Nook, and Nexus 7. This device cannot display several PDFs and articles without requiring you to zoom in on them to make the text legible. What a ridiculous design choice.

This is one of the greediest moves I’ve seen Apple make. It was already bad enough that they were refreshing their devices yearly, but now they release an obviously intentionally downgraded device in order to make more money off the inevitable retina version in the future. I apologize if I’ve offended any of the ridiculous number of Mini owners (no official figures yet, but Forbes believes it’s severely cannibalizing iPad sales), but you were all robbed. Now moving on; the retina-display iPad Mini, will likely be the best tablet in the world at the time of release. Although, due to the form factor of the Mini, it’s 4:3 aspect ratio causes wide-screen movies to take up only half of the screen’s real-estate. You’d be better off with an Android tablet, like the Nexus 10. The bottom line is, do not buy the iPad Mini. Wait for the retina version—I know I will.


  1. I have an iPad mini and I love it! It was easy to understand and I love the interface. Here’s the one I have on Amazon http://amzn.to/W3UFX3. It really blows the other tablets away.

  2. I have been waiting for the iPad mini and did not buy it for the same reason. I also thought the price was a bit high for that display.

    Shame on Apple. They are just trying to milk there customers into buy another device, and then 6 months later they will update it.

  3. ohhh ive been reading reviews about the mini and just lastnight i thought id get one today but——-i will wait then for the next ipad mini 2. can they make it next month ? whew! just i cant wait …

  4. Thank you for writing this review!! I was seriously considering the iPad mini! After seeing the mini and iPad 4 side by side, I see a clear difference!!! I could not agree with you more! Thank you.

  5. This display is not Horrendous. People are making it sound like it’s terrible it’s really is not it’s bright and clear. It’s not Retina, but it really is a pretty damn good display

  6. I own the mini and its paid for itself already. People focus on the latest and greatest, but the value is not in what it lacks rather what you can accomplish with it while you have it. I garrantee for me waiting is not worth $100-200 loss. I use my mini for work, play, file management, iMessage with iPhone family members. And you know what, ill buy the Retina version too and get that much more 🙂

    Do yourselves a favor and focus on value and benefits, not features and pixels 🙂 if you don’t have a tablet it’s not worth the wait. If you already own a retina iPad, you should probably wait. Cause you’ll rag on the mini comparing the display instead of responding to urgent emails and actually using the damn thing… Lol

    I also own the iPhone 5, but it ain’t a mini, and for that I love my mini!!!

  7. I have bought iPad mini and its Pretty cool. I like it’s features, looks as well as interfaces. After using it, i can say iPad mini works faster compared to the previous ipads.

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