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iPad mini review

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

Our Verdict

The iPad mini ushered in a major change for Apple and aside from the slightly disappointing screen we loved this tablet. It's now been usurped by the iPad mini 2 with Retina display, so it's really only there for those on a budget.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1024 x 768
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel

View full specification

For

  • Superb design
  • Great battery
  • Extremely light and portable

Against

  • Smaller touch targets
  • Higher price than competition
  • Low-res screen

The way the iPad mini handles messages is two fold: through the impressive email client and now with iMessage on board. When it comes to emailing, there aren't many better clients on the market, with an expansive view and the ability to see your messages differently in both portrait and landscape mode.

You can have multiple accounts set up on the device, be it through Exchange or a web-based service like GMail, and then you're able to see these individually or together in a unified inbox. Either offers an excellent view of your message, with it being easy to delete emails as a batch or as single missives.

iPad Mini review

But it's the little tweaks that make this option a decent choice for a work-based tablet, if you're one of those types that move around a lot when doing business things.

It's not going to change the world, but there's a lot to like here: the power draw of the email client is relatively minimal compared to older Apple products, you can easily manage folders and see specific emails through the search function and it just makes everything easier than competing products on Android.

The keyboard on the iPad mini was an area I was interested to drill into, as given the smaller proportions of the device I wondered if it was going to be any easier to type on than the larger iPad.

Well, in normal portrait and landscape modes it's a little bit odd. With its bigger brother (and most large screen tablets) you can place them on your lap in landscape mode and rattle out messages at a fairly rapid rate thanks to the bigger display.

That's not possible on the iPad mini really, and holding the device in portrait means you can't type one handed either. However, if you use Apple's clever split dock keyboard, the whole system is much better. This feature is available on the bigger 'Pad, but with the larger size the weight made it hard to hold and type with.

For the iPad mini, typing on the move is an excellent experience once you spend some time practicing - entering text on tablets has always been hard, but this is as easy to use as the impressive SwiftKey on Android, bar the clever auto prediction of text.

iPad Mini review

It's obvious Apple would include iMessage on this device, allowing you to send messages between other Apple devices for free (in most cases, depending on how lenient your network is) in the same manner as RIM's BBM.

It's a simple system, and without the extra confusion of a phone number to worry about it doesn't get in way of actual SMS messages, which was a problem on the iPhone 5.

If you're someone who has others in the family set up on an Apple device, you'll find yourself using this feature out and about a fair amount, especially if you've picked up the LTE iPad mini.

FaceTime

ipad mini review

One of the 'magical' features for the iPad mini is the ability to call people using FaceTime, which won't come as a shock to many of you, given Apple is certain people need to see their cats before saying goodnight when away on business trips.

The service is much unchanged on this model of iPad, although the HD front-facing camera is an excellent choice for chatting with people using your head rather than just your mouth.

The service was slick (with a strong enough Wi-Fi connection) and although we wish the contacts menu made it clearer who was rocking an Apple device and would thus be ready for FaceTime, the overall experience was smooth and the on-screen power impressive.

Contacts

When it comes to contacts management, Apple has never been the most impressive, and that continues on the iPad mini. While the service is perfectly acceptable in terms of storing names and numbers, the rest of it isn't too intuitive.

For instance, with the involvement of Facebook on iOS 6 you can now see your buddies with phone numbers in your Contacts list, as well as those from iCloud and other services you've connected in, like Exchange.

Ipad mini review

However, while on other devices (mostly Android) there are clever suggestions to help you link them together, and automatic options in many cases, there's no such thing on the Apple front.

You have to dig into the contact, edit the listing, then tap a tiny '+' icon to call up another list of people to join together. It's not a huge problem, and if you can't be bothered with it you'll just end up with a messy list of associates, but it's irksome when it's so much better implemented on rival platforms.

The app itself isn't the most attractive out there either, simply because in portrait mode Apple hasn't stretched it out to take up the full amount of the screen. It seems curious that the company that prides itself on such elements of design would take this approach, rather focusing on the landscape version of the app, but at least the UI is attractive.

A special mention should be made for the list of letters on the left-hand side, allowing you to skip to the people you want to get hold of easily. This part is really sensitive but also manages to register the letter you're after time and again. It's the little things that please, and make Apple products so attractive to so many people.

One nice touch is that for any given contact you get shortcut icons that let you instantly start a new iMessage to that person, start a FaceTime video and now a FaceTime Audio chat with them, provided of course they have at least one device registered that supports one of these protocols.

FaceTime Audio is particularly cool since it works a bit like Skype, providing free calls to other Apple devices and Macs running OS X 10.9.2. The call quality is excellent – in fact it's so good it's initially a surprise, being much clearer and more natural than a regular cellular call.

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