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iPad mini review

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

Apple devices have historically had issues with battery life, but in recent years the iRange has been stepped up in terms of power performance, and the iPad mini is following in that trend.

The battery life was a hot topic at launch, as many suspected that the lack of a high resolution screen was to help manage the power consumption as much as give Apple the specs for the iPad mini 2 next year. In practice this seems to have worked, as the battery life is pretty darn good.

iPad mini review

I tested two usage scenarios: one with full brightness, high power apps running constantly and movies being played over and over, with downloads running in the background. In this case the iPad mini managed to last nearly six hours, which was more than acceptable in our eyes.

In low power mode it was a whole different case. Powering the display right down to the minimum brightness, keeping it turned off and locked and jumping onto Airplane mode from time to time led to an pretty low battery consumption by today's standards, with the unit lasting well over two days with 50% still remaining (on the Wi-Fi only version).

Given that the device will mostly be in the bag or pocket (at a stretch) we can see you'll only need to keep the charger handy every two or three days to keep things juiced - barring a marathon gaming session or email reply storm.

iPad mini review

The story is much the same with the LTE option, which is just a fraction more draining than the Wi-Fi-only. That said, with the temptation of instant streaming that comes with 4G, it's likely that you'll find yourself drinking through the power juice a fair bit faster - especially with services like Netflix at your fingertips wherever you are.

But all in all, the battery life won't ever give you any nasty surprises. Although iOS 7 initially seemed to hurt battery life a bit, the 7.1 update has helped and brought things back around to normal. As with any mobile device, the more you use it, the shorter the battery life will be.

I have yet to test the battery life with the latest version, iOS 8.1, but will update this review after we've tested how the update affects the iPad mini's battery life.

Connectivity

ipad mini review

The iPad mini has three specifications – 3G, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi only. The latter is pretty sparse, with only dual-channel Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 on board.

I say 'only', but in truth that's quite a decent option for the things you'll want to do with it.

3G has everything under the sun: most LTE bands, DC-HSPA for sub 4G speeds that still impress, GPS and GLONASS for on-the-go mapping (providing you get the courage to do use such a function with Apple Maps).

But the mini reaches its true potential with 4G LTE, allowing the tablet to show us what it's really made for. Opting for the cellular option certainly makes more sense on the mini than with its older sibling, and we found that it made a whole world of difference when using the tablet in day-to-day life.

The 4G option makes the mini perfect for those journeys where you want to catch up with a couple of episodes of your new favourite series. It's even small enough that – with 4G on board – you might find it usurping your iPhone as the chosen device for checking emails and suchlike.

4G LTE speeds on the mini, when tested in London, were impressive though varying, with the device hitting downloads of around 10-15 Mbps a lot of the time. Songs streamed over Spotify instantly, and Netflix took only seconds to buffer with a decent connection. Of course, the mini can also be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot, with up to five devices able to connect and share the love at the same time.

The Bluetooth 4.0 integration is also one that's impressed me over time, as it means low power sensors (such as those in healthcare or fitness) can be used with the more portable tablet, which will be great news for doctors who can't convince their patients to buy an iPhone or lug around a larger tablet.

There are other devices that have the same functionality, of course, but Apple always likes to put in the minimum amount of technology when designing devices, so this shows it really believes in the technology.

Benchmarks

iPad mini review

The GeekBench score is what we usually use to tell if any new Apple product is up to much, and you'll be glad to know that it's… exactly as powerful as the iPad 2 and the iPad 3, though not the newer iPad Air or mini 2, which benchmark almost five times faster.

The latter isn't really a fair test as they have got a much improved GPU running the show to help power all those pixels, but it shows that in terms of CPU grunt there's not a lot to worry about here, especially if you are on a budget and will use it mainly for less processor-intensive tasks.

However, it is under half as powerful as the new iPad Air, which is able to ripple through web pages and apps in a much shorter time… Apple always gives you something to update to, right?

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