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iPad mini review

The original iPad mini is still good, apart from that screen

I often struggle to sum up an Apple product. I can ask the same question of the iPad mini that I'veasked of nearly every mobile device that Apple has made: how much more should consumers pay for a well thought-out OS and a more impressive design than the competition?

Usually, the answer is 'not as much as is being charged'... but in this case that's not as true as normal. Yes, the iPad mini is once again too expensive. It's more for a device with lower specs than the competition, and Apple is making at least a decent profit on each device, according to iSuppli.

And it's especially irksome how Apple has pointed out that it's making a lower profit margin on this device. Rather than make us say 'well done' for taking the hit to enter a new market, it just makes us think the company should charge less for other devices and stop its cash mountain threatening to topple over and kill Apple employees.

It is worth noting here that the likes of Google and Amazon – while both haven't explicitly said so – are making no money or even using the likes of the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD as loss leaders to claw back money on apps and content. This is a strategy Apple has no intention of deploying, but it may give consumers pause on the high street.

iPad mini review

But forget all that for a second, and focus on this: the iPad mini was the best budget iPad Apple has created to date when it launched, and although the price drops aren't stellar it's still good.

I fell in love with its design, the way the screen seems so much more expansive than the Google or Amazon competition, and the way the smooth aluminium feels in the hand. The iPad mini 2 with Retina display is significantly more powerful and has a much crisper screen, but then it costs more too.

We liked

I liked a lot, a whole lot on the iPad mini, and although the price is a little high, Apple has just about justified it with the way the device sits in the hand.

The larger screen might not fit fully in a single palm, but from the smooth back to the Smart Covers designed specifically for the model, I'm a fan – pure and simple.

The speed of the processor is adequate for all tasks, the UI is actually better-engineered for this 7.9-inch screen compared to its bigger brother, and I'm chirpy indeed about the battery prowess through harder use.

4G LTE is good too see, although not a new trick any more, and if you can afford the data it's worth the investment.

We disliked

The lack of a Retina display is so, so frustrating, because that's the killer feature (along with, perhaps, a slightly faster processor) that would have meant we gave the iPad mini a really high score.

But the screen is too fuzzy at times compared to the likes of the iPad mini 2 or iPhone 5S / 5C to consider it a dazzling display, and that's a real shame.

The low-power GPU is also sadly lacking, even for the price point, and while I've long given up on looking for expandable storage or a removable battery on these devices, 16GB of storage isn't enough for the plethora of large apps and HD content I'm interested in downloading onto this device.

Verdict

Can I see someone owning an iPhone 5S, an iPad mini and a new iPad Air 2? Actually, yes...and not just the pointlessly rich. The iPhone is the perfect device for hopping in and out of content, giving you the internet all the time and generally allowing you to play more simple games.

The iPad mini is perfect for a train ride: it's just the right size for a few TV episodes when you're packed nose to nose with fellow commuters, before slipping it back into a bag or pocket to leap for your platform.

The new iPad Air is great for longer sessions and more involved gaming - air travel is so much more improved by its presence and no matter what game we were playing or which content-rich website we wanted to view, it was always the larger device we reached for.

The iPad mini 3 is a better device all around than this one, despite being higher in price, so you'll really need to want to save some cash to put up with the fuzzier screen and low internal storage.

We've said it already, but we'll say it again: the iPad mini was the best iPad Apple has ever created. It offers adequate value for money, sits more pleasantly in the hand and can handle all the tasks you want at least adequately and many times better than you'd expect.

If you're thinking about which tablet to buy a loved one and money isn't an issue, we'd recommend the iPad mini 3 or iPad Air 2 every time, for it's more impressive design compared to the swathes of plastic offered by its competitors.

It's still overpriced compared to what you get from the competition, the CPU and display aren't as strong as they could be and it's showing its age now - but it's not a horrendous choice if you want an iPad no matter what, as this is the cheapest model you're going to get and the new iOS 8.1 update makes it just fresh enough to warrant a purchase.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity16 GB
Processor ManufacturerApple
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
GPSYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyiPad mini
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformiOS
ColourWhite, Silver
Operating SystemiOS 6
Brand NameApple
Form FactorSlate
Processor TypeA5
Screen Size20.1 cm (7.9")
Screen Resolution1024 x 768
Weight (Approximate)313 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyIn-plane Switching (IPS) Technology
WWAN SupportedYes
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Cellular Generation4G
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Height199.9 mm
Width134.6 mm
Depth7.1 mm
Screen ModeXGA
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMD543NF/A
Product NameiPad mini MD543NF/A Tablet
Product LineiPad mini
Aspect Ratio4:3
Manufacturer Part NumberMD543NF/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

The whole package. In a smaller package.

A beautiful display, powerful A5 chip, FaceTime HD camera, iSight camera with 1080p HD video recording, ultrafast wireless, and over 275,000 apps ready to download from the App Store. iPad mini is an iPad in every way, shape, and slightly smaller form.

Package Contents
  • iPad mini MD543NF/A Tablet
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year