The latest addition to the Apple portable device line-up arrived with much fanfare on November 2, 2012. The iPad Mini joins the iPad family, placing Apple squarely in the middle of the smaller tablet market. Back in 2010, Steve Jobs decried a smaller form factor, saying, “We think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.” Tim Cook, the current CEO of Apple, claims that Jobs was naysaying a 7-inch screen, not a 7.8-inch screen that the new iPad Mini features. Nevertheless, I was able to get my hands on a black model with 32GB of storage to take a closer look at this paradoxical product from Cupertino, California.
The first obvious aspect of the iPad Mini is the smaller form factor, which is much smaller than its larger siblings, the iPad 2 and the new iPad. It measures 7.87 x 5.3 inches and is 0.28 inches deep, but biggest difference is noticeable when you pick it up – the weight is nearly half that of the iPad 2 and at 0.68 pounds, less than half of the new iPad. While the screen is smaller, it boasts a 1024×768 resolution at 163 pixels per inch, akin to the resolution of the iPad 2, although the pixels are packed more tightly on the Mini.
Another similarity with the iPad 2 is the processor: a dual-core A5. While this processor is a tad dated that doesn’t bog down the iPad Mini; without a Retina display to power, the A5-powered Mini works great. Apple did beef up the cameras considerably in the iPad Mini, which supports 1080p HD video recording and a 5MP iSight camera. While taking photos or video with a larger iPad feels awkward, the Mini fits just right.
Some people will be griping about the price, and I will admit, I did too. Instead of coming close to competitor pricing like the Amazon Kindle Fire at $199, Apple priced the 16GB Wi-Fi iPad Mini at $329, with upgrades to cellular data and more storage priced upwards of $659. For most Apple consumers, this isn’t a big deal, and if you already have an investment in purchases from the Apple Store, choosing the Mini over a Kindle Fire is a no brainer.
I have an iPad 2 and a new iPad, and both are great to use, but I really like the smaller size on the iPad mini. The weight alone makes it a joy to hold for extended periods of time. While the larger models are better suited as desktop replacements, this svelte addition is a great fit for content consumption, with the portability making a huge difference. The iPad Mini fits in your back pocket, or can easily fit in a purse or glove compartment, places the larger versions cannot venture.
Is the iPad Mini a product everyone has to have? No. If you already have an iPad, getting a smaller one isn’t a necessity. I think the allure of the iPad Mini will be enticing to people buying a second iPad for their spouse or children, where a smaller form factor is a welcome addition to this familiar device. For people that don’t have an iPad but do have an iPhone, you might think it would be unappealing. I’m betting that iPhone users without an iPad will be quicker to adopt a smaller tablet at half the weight and a slightly lower price. After 3 days of sales, Apple reported that 3 million iPads were sold since the iPad Mini launch, with estimates set for over 9 million sold before 2013. Will you be helping Apple meet their predictions for this holiday season?