Review Apple iPad Mini Retina Tablet

Daniel Schmidt (translated by Ariana Brodsky), 12/06/2013

Small device, giant resolution. The new version of the little iPad now has a Retina display, but it is also thicker than its predecessor. Apple also bestowed their 64-bit A7 processor on the little tyke, so it is on equal footing with its big brother. Or is it…?

For the original German review, see here.

The iPad Mini Retina is Apple's first revision of their 7.9-inch tablet. Its predecessor was not particularly exciting, but now the Californian company presses onward and upward, and gives their device a comprehensive upgrade. The Mini Retina now runs on the top-class Apple A7 processor, which improves the device's performance tremendously. As the name suggests, the Californian company has also equipped the tablet with a Retina display. This display has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels and takes the gold medal for the highest pixel density of any seven-to-eight inch device. According to Apple, the new Mini also has a battery life of up to ten hours, even with its new display. But there had to be some give somewhere and the Mini had to grow a bit to fit its larger battery. In terms of storage space, customers can choose between 16, 32, 64 and 128 GB. The version with the smallest amount of storage is available starting at 389 Euros (~$525), which is about 60 Euros (~$80) more than its predecessor. Every time the storage doubles, the device costs an additional 90 Euros (~$120). Also, if you want to access the Internet on the go, you will have to lay down another 90 Euros (~$120) on top of that. The top model totals an impressive 779 Euros (~$1055). We contented ourselves with the 16 GB model sans LTE for our tests.

Still, the competing models have no reason to quake with fear. Tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 or the Google Nexus 7 (2013) also have high-resolution panels and high-performance SoCs. Read the following review to find out how the Apple iPad Mini Retina does in our tests, and whether it really is a junior iPad Air.

Case

The display is protected by a glass plate.
The display is protected by a glass plate.
The aluminum unibody is exquisitely manufactured and feels good in your hands.
The aluminum unibody is exquisitely manufactured and feels good in your hands.

The Apple iPad Mini Retina measures 200 x 134.7 x 7.5 millimeters (7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches; height x width x depth) and has nearly the same dimensions as its predecessor, though the first Mini was somewhat thinner (only 7.2 mm thick). At 328 grams (0.73 pounds), the new device also weighs about 20 grams (0.7 ounces) more. The larger battery does not just take up more space; it also increases the weight.

If you lay the two down next to each other, you might think the Mini is the iPad Air's miniature twin. The Mini's unibody case is also made of aluminum and is exquisitely manufactured. The material feels wonderful in your hands, but it shows fingerprints easily. The whole front is protected by a glass plate. The slits between the glass and the aluminum case are thin and perfectly even. The oil-resistant coating Apple advertises as protecting their touchscreen from fingerprints is not any better than on their other tablet. You will still have to use a cleaning cloth every now and then.

The iPad is also very resistant to twisting. Even when we applied a fair amount of force, the device would not warp. We could not get the tablet to make any cracking or creaking sounds. The Mini also holds up well under pressure. You have to press very hard against the backside to create distortions on the screen.

In summary, the iPad Mini Retina is incredibly well manufactured. Like the iPad Air, the Mini is available in the colors “Space Gray” and “Silver”.

Connectivity

The iPad Mini Retina's connectivity options mirror those of its predecessor and its big brother, and are sparse as usual. The Lightning connector is still the tablet's central port and is essentially an enhanced USB 2.0 port that can process audio and Firewire signals. A real USB port or a microSD slot for storage expansion would certainly be nice, but Apple holds fast to their policies and continues to omit these features.

The tablet is also equipped with the obligatory headphone jack. The switch integrated into the right side can be configured in the settings to function as a rotation lock or mute button.

Top side: Power, Microphone, Audio
Top side: Power, Microphone, Audio
Left side
Left side
Bottom side: Lightning port, flanked by stereo speakers
Bottom side: Lightning port, flanked by stereo speakers
Right: Volume rocker, Side switch
Right: Volume rocker, Side switch

Software

Apple installs their own iOS version 7.0 operating system, which we cover in greater detail in our iPhone 5S5c and iPad Air reviews. After the first start-up, the tablet immediately offers a new bug fix (version 7.0.4), which we used for the entire duration of our tests. Unfortunately, the browser bug we encountered during our WLAN test and wrote about in our iPad Air review is still an issue in the new version.

The operating system on the high-resolution iPad Mini Retina received a massive visual overhaul since its previous version. It now looks significantly more harmonious and not as bright as on the iPhones. Apple also now offers their Office apps for the tablet free of charge.

The iPad Mini Retina's start screen.
The iPad Mini Retina's start screen.
16 GB of storage fill up quickly.
16 GB of storage fill up quickly.
Apple chose iOS 7.0.4 for their operating system.
Apple chose iOS 7.0.4 for their operating system.

Communication

The Apple iPad Mini Retina connects to the Internet via its integrated WLAN module. The module supports the IEEE 802.11 standards a/b/g/n and transmits at both 2.4 and 5.0 GHz. Even at a distance of 20 meters (~66 feet) from the router (Fritz!Box 6360), the connection quality is very good. The tablet still loads websites at a reasonable speed, though there is a noticeable delay. Unfortunately, the device does not support the new ac standard, nor is it equipped with an NFC chip. Bluetooth version 4.0 comes preinstalled.

The Mini is also available with a WWAN modem that supports both HSPA+ and the quick data communication standard LTE. The latter supports a wide frequency spectrum, but it does not meet the specifications for Cat 4 LTE.

The iPad Mini is well equipped for VoIP calls as well. Due to fact that the device has two microphones, its voice quality is very good. The webcam (1.2 megapixels, 1280x960 pixels) performs its duty reasonably well, though the image it captures looks a little grainy on the high-resolution panel. Also, in poor lighting situations the lens quickly reveals its limitations and generates a lot of image noise. Still, all in all the device's communication features certainly add to its appeal.

Cameras & Multimedia

The iPad Mini Retina is outfitted with the same lenses as the iPad Air. A 1.2 megapixel (1280x960 pixels) camera serves as the tablet's webcam and is well suited to the task of capturing video for video calls. The backside of the device houses an iSight camera with a resolution of 5 megapixels (2592x1936 pixels). In good lighting situations, this camera is good for the occasional snapshot, but in weak light it produces a fair amount of image noise. Because it has neither an assist light nor a flash, it is impossible to take pictures in dark surroundings. The main lens records videos at 1080p. This function works quite well, though you need a steady hand, and quick panning should be avoided.

Apple iPad Mini Retina (iSight, outside)
Apple iPad Mini Retina (iSight, outside)
Apple iPad Mini Retina (Webcam, outside)
Apple iPad Mini Retina (Webcam, outside)
Canon EOS 450D (Reference, outside)
Canon EOS 450D (Reference, outside)
Apple iPad Mini Retina (iSight, inside)
Apple iPad Mini Retina (iSight, inside)
Apple iPad Mini Retina (Webcam, inside)
Apple iPad Mini Retina (Webcam, inside)
Canon EOS 450D (Reference, inside, without flash)
Canon EOS 450D (Reference, inside, without flash)

Accessories

The accessories included in the iPad Mini Retina's packaging are few, as per usual. Alongside a modular power supply with a power rating of 10 Watts, you will get a Lightning-to-USB cable that serves to charge the tablet and transfer data to a computer. And with that, we have exhausted the list.

You can purchase a variety of additional accessories in the Apple Store or through a third-party supplier. These range from the Smart Cover (starting at 39 Euros; ~$53) to external speakers (starting at 50 Euros; ~$68).

Warranty

Apple's standard warranty on their iPad Mini Retina only lasts twelve months. This can be extended to two years with the Apple Care+ package (99 Euros; ~$134), but the coverage is extremely limited, and in the event of damage the customer will still pay additional fees. The service cost 19 Euros less (~$26 less) to cover the Mini Retina's predecessor.

Input Devices & Operation

The iPad Mini Retina's virtual keyboards are no different from the iPad Air's. Apple has made very few changes here in the past few years, so Android and/or Windows users will find the device lacking some helpful features that make input easier. In portrait format, the QWERTY keys measure 7 x 9 mm (width x height) and are considerably smaller than on the tablet's big brother. Anyone who wants to write longer texts will quickly switch into landscape format. At 11 x 12 mm, the keys are bigger, though in exchange less of the screen is visible. However, compared to the competing devices with Android or Windows, substantially more screen content remains visible in landscape format.

The capacitive touchscreen recognizes up to ten fingers of input simultaneously, reacts quickly, and functions precisely. Fingers glide easily across the glass. This is an excellent input device.

A lot of content remains visible when the keyboard is open in portrait format.
A lot of content remains visible when the keyboard is open in portrait format.
The keys are larger in landscape format.
The keys are larger in landscape format.

Display

The Retina display made it into the iPad Mini.
The Retina display made it into the iPad Mini.

As the name suggests, the high-resolution Retina display has now found its way into the Apple iPad Mini Retina. The panel has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels, which corresponds to an aspect ratio of 4:3. With a display diagonal measuring 7.9 inches, this equates to a pixel density of a remarkable 324 PPI. The Apple product is now on par with its competitors from Google and Amazon (both 323 PPI); however, both are somewhat smaller and only offer Full HD resolution.

The iPad Mini's aspect ratio is a boon, especially when it comes to viewing photos. Also, considerably more website content remains visible in landscape format on the Mini Retina than on the Nexus 7 or the HDX 7, both of which have an aspect ratio of 16:9. On the other hand, the competitors can play movies across their entire screens, whereas the Apple tablet is forced to display films with thick borders to conform to the right format. Only about 60% of the Mini Retina's display is occupied by the movie image; the rest remains black.

At a maximum of 416 cd/m², the Apple tablet's display brightness is very good. With 89% similarity across the screen, its brightness distribution is very even. The Amazon HDX 7 (447 cd/m², 91%) manages to do still a little better here, and the Nexus 7 shines considerably brighter, reaching a maximum of 549 cd/m². We didn't observe any screen bleeding on the iPad Mini.

400
cd/m²
404
cd/m²
370
cd/m²
414
cd/m²
411
cd/m²
378
cd/m²
416
cd/m²
409
cd/m²
384
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 416 cd/m²
Average: 398.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 411 cd/m²
Black: 0.54 cd/m²
Contrast: 761:1

At 761:1, the iPad Mini Retina's contrast is quite good. At 0.54 cd/m², its black value is slightly higher than its predecessors. Black does not appear jet-black, but more like a dark coal color. In practice this shortcoming is not very noticeable, and the Nexus 7 (1.07 cd/m², 513:1) and the Amazon HDX 7 (0.7 cd/m², 668:1) sometimes do visibly worse here. When it comes to Google's tablet, “black” value is hardly the proper term.

According to the specialists at DisplayMate, the iPad Mini's color reproduction is unfortunately below average. Unlike the iPad Air, which covers almost 100% of the sRGB color space, our review device only covers 63% of the same color space. On the other hand, its grayscale calibration is exemplary and leaves nothing to be desired. Things look different in the area of color accuracy, where almost every color deviates significantly from the target. As a result, the colors look a little too dull. The panel's color saturation is better; only blue deviates significantly, with a dE value of 18. Here we see clearly that not all Retina displays are created equal, even if both panels are Apple products.

Grayscale (Target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (Target color space sRGB)
Color accuracy (Target color space sRGB)
Color accuracy (Target color space sRGB)
Color saturation (Target color space sRGB)
Color saturation (Target color space sRGB)
Mixed colors (Target color space sRGB)
Mixed colors (Target color space sRGB)
Mixed colors (Target color space Adobe RGB)
Mixed colors (Target color space Adobe RGB)
iPad Mini Retina's color space coverage (Source: DisplayMate)
iPad Mini Retina's color space coverage (Source: DisplayMate)

The iPad Mini Retina is well suited for outdoor use. Its high brightness and rich contrast combine to lend the screen visibility even in bright surroundings. The panel's reflective surface is the only hindrance to viewing the display content in direct sunlight.

The iPad Mini on a cloudy day.
The iPad Mini on a cloudy day.
At flat angles, reflections develop between the display and the glass.
At flat angles, reflections develop between the display and the glass.

Because the iPad Mini Retina's display uses IPS technology, its viewing angle stability is theoretically very good. However, in bright environments, the panel's reflective surface obstructs the screen's visibility at wide angles. Also, like the iPad Air, at flat angles the Mini reveals a small gap between the glass surface and the panel, where bothersome reflections develop. In practice, however, you will only very rarely encounter this issue.

Viewing angles: iPad Mini Retina
Viewing angles: iPad Mini Retina

Performance

Whereas Apple installed an already outdated SoC in their first iPad Mini (Apple A5), this time around they outfitted the mini tablet with their current flagship. The 64-bit Apple A7 processor has two cores and an M7 co-processor at its command. Both cores clock at 1.3 GHz -- exactly like in the iPhone 5S.

Even though the little Apple tablet clocks at a slightly lower frequency than the structurally identical CPU in the iPad Air, it certainly has its appeal. The integrated Imagination PowerVR G6430's graphics performance is especially compelling and leaves some of the competition in the dust. With 27 fps in GFX Bench (off-screen), the GPU clearly demonstrates its superiority. Starting from cold, the tablet even reaches “Maxed Out!” in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme, which means the system crossed the 60 fps line. If the iPad Mini performs the test after running for a while, it only reaches 58 fps -- a score (10197 points) comparable to that of the iPhone 5S. The GPU tends to throttle minimally, though you do not notice that at all in practice.

The tablet's pure CPU performance is also remarkable. Quad-core processors, like in the Bullman Tab 8 (Rockchip RK3188, 1.6 GHz) or the Nexus 7 (Snapdragon S4 Pro, 1.5 GHz), of course have a clear advantage, but our Apple product's performance draws much nearer to the competition than we expected. Comparing for example the physics scores from Ice Storm Extreme, the Nexus 7 (10508 points) scores 37% higher than our review device (7672 points), but if you consider each device's number of cores and clock frequency, the iPad Mini's performance per MHz is about 60% higher than the Nexus 7's. This proves that the A7 CPU works much more effectively.

The storage, too, is about as quick as in the iPad Air -- according to PassMark, it reaches a linear read speed of 309 MB/s. That is comparably fast, but it does not attain to the Samsung Galaxy S4's top score of 413 MB/s.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
1393 Points ∼40%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
863 Points ∼25% -38%
Apple iPhone 5S
1368 Points ∼39% -2%
Apple iPad Air
1479 Points ∼42% +6%
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
2512 Points ∼20%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
2622 Points ∼20% +4%
Apple iPhone 5S
2449 Points ∼19% -3%
Apple iPad Air
2687 Points ∼21% +7%
3DMark (2013)
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
10197 Points ∼8%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
2519 Points ∼2% -75%
Google Nexus 7 2013
7245 Points ∼6% -29%
Apple iPhone 5S
10245 Points ∼8% 0%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
11255 Points ∼4%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
2099 Points ∼1% -81%
Google Nexus 7 2013
6655 Points ∼3% -41%
Apple iPhone 5S
11226 Points ∼4% 0%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
7672 Points ∼16%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
8413 Points ∼18% +10%
Google Nexus 7 2013
10508 Points ∼22% +37%
Apple iPhone 5S
7845 Points ∼16% +2%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
14180 Points ∼10%
Apple iPhone 5S
14012 Points ∼10% -1%
Apple iPhone 5S
14012 Points ∼10% -1%
Apple iPad Air
14858 Points ∼10% +5%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
18343 Points ∼6%
Apple iPhone 5S
17861 Points ∼6% -3%
Apple iPhone 5S
17861 Points ∼6% -3%
Apple iPad Air
18868 Points ∼7% +3%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
7902 Points ∼15%
Apple iPhone 5S
7987 Points ∼16% +1%
Apple iPhone 5S
7987 Points ∼16% +1%
Apple iPad Air
8520 Points ∼17% +8%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
27 fps ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 SM-T310
3.9 fps ∼1% -86%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
4.4 fps ∼1% -84%
Google Nexus 7 2013
16 fps ∼2% -41%
Apple iPhone 5S
25 fps ∼4% -7%
Apple iPad Air
27 fps ∼4% 0%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
21 fps ∼35%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 SM-T310
6.2 fps ∼10% -70%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
5.9 fps ∼10% -72%
Google Nexus 7 2013
16 fps ∼27% -24%
Apple iPhone 5S
37 fps ∼62% +76%
Apple iPad Air
21 fps ∼35% 0%
Linpack for Android
Single Thread (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
536.03 MFLOPS ∼79%
Apple iPad mini
85.4 MFLOPS ∼13% -84%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 SM-T310
56.377 MFLOPS ∼8% -89%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
54.937 MFLOPS ∼8% -90%
Google Nexus 7 2013
97.481 MFLOPS ∼14% -82%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
429.915 MFLOPS ∼63% -20%
Apple iPhone 5S
518.44 MFLOPS ∼76% -3%
Apple iPad Air
557.99 MFLOPS ∼82% +4%
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
998.18 MFLOPS ∼91%
Apple iPad mini
124.4 MFLOPS ∼11% -88%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 SM-T310
95.942 MFLOPS ∼9% -90%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
132.08 MFLOPS ∼12% -87%
Google Nexus 7 2013
253.634 MFLOPS ∼23% -75%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
727.011 MFLOPS ∼66% -27%
Apple iPhone 5S
931.38 MFLOPS ∼85% -7%
Apple iPad Air
977.31 MFLOPS ∼89% -2%

Legend

 
Apple iPad mini Retina Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Apple iPad mini Apple A5, PowerVR SGX543MP2, 16 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 SM-T310 Samsung Exynos 4212 1.5 GHz, ARM Mali-400 MP4, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI Rockchip RK3188, ARM Mali-400 MP4, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Google Nexus 7 2013 Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064A, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB SSD
 
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB SSD
 
Apple iPhone 5S Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Apple iPad Air Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB iNAND Flash

The Apple iPad Mini Retina delivers impressive browser performance and outclasses all the competition, regardless of platform. Subjectively, too, there is hardly anything to complain about here. Websites load quickly and are displayed correctly. The missing Flash support is the only nuisance.

Sunspider - --- (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
271.8 ms * ∼7%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
563.9 ms * ∼14% -107%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
Mali-400 MP4, RK3188, 16 GB iNAND Flash
849.2 ms * ∼21% -212%
Acer Iconia-W3-810-27602G03nsw
SGX545, Z2760, 32 GB eMMC Flash
930.8 ms * ∼23% -242%
Google Nexus 7 2013
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1104.6 ms * ∼27% -306%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 SM-T310
Mali-400 MP4, 4212 1.5 GHz, 16 GB iNAND Flash
1257.1 ms * ∼31% -363%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
1724 Points ∼28%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
975 Points ∼16% -43%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
Mali-400 MP4, RK3188, 16 GB iNAND Flash
654 Points ∼11% -62%
Acer Iconia-W3-810-27602G03nsw
SGX545, Z2760, 32 GB eMMC Flash
691 Points ∼11% -60%
Google Nexus 7 2013
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
611 Points ∼10% -65%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 SM-T310
Mali-400 MP4, 4212 1.5 GHz, 16 GB iNAND Flash
712 Points ∼11% -59%
Browsermark - --- (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
3541 points ∼49%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
2611 points ∼36% -26%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
Mali-400 MP4, RK3188, 16 GB iNAND Flash
1543 points ∼21% -56%
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
2098 (min: 2036) points ∼29% -41%
Acer Iconia-W3-810-27602G03nsw
SGX545, Z2760, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1729 points ∼24% -51%
Google Nexus 7 2013
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
2380 points ∼33% -33%
Octane V1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini Retina
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
5139 Points ∼24%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
3839 Points ∼18% -25%
Bullman Tab 8 Mini AQQI
Mali-400 MP4, RK3188, 16 GB iNAND Flash
2397 Points ∼11% -53%
Acer Iconia-W3-810-27602G03nsw
SGX545, Z2760, 32 GB eMMC Flash
2618 Points ∼12% -49%
Google Nexus 7 2013
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
2283 Points ∼11% -56%
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 SM-T310
Mali-400 MP4, 4212 1.5 GHz, 16 GB iNAND Flash
1873 Points ∼9% -64%

* ... smaller is better

Games

The iPad Mini Retina can take on any game in Apple's app store without a problem. With its high-performance Imagination PowerVR G6430, the tablet is also well equipped for future releases. Whether it is FIFA 14, Infinity Blade III, or classics like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birdsevery game runs smoothly and in its full splendor. The precise sensors and good touchscreen perform their tasks flawlessly.

Angry Birds Seasons HD
Angry Birds Seasons HD
Fruit Ninja HD
Fruit Ninja HD
FIFA 14
FIFA 14
Epic Citadel
Epic Citadel

Emissions

Temperature

At a surface temperature of up to 33.1 °C (91.6 °F) in idle mode, the iPad Mini Retina reaches a mid-range and reasonable temperature. The Nexus 7 stays cooler (28.4 °C; 83.1 °F), while the Acer Iconia W3 grows quite warm even in idle mode (37 °C; 98.6 °F).

Under load, the Apple tablet's temperatures rise to up to 38.4 °C (101.1 °F). Not only is this a considerably cooler maximum temperature than the iPad Air (max. 42.1 °C; 107.8 °F), but the tablet stays cooler than the rest of the competition as well. The HDX 7 (max. 41.6 °C; 106.9 °F) and the Google tablet (max. 45.8 °C; 114.4 °F) remain within an acceptable range. The Acer W3, on the other hand, reaches a downright smoldering maximum temperature of 52.2 °C (126 °F). All in all, the iPad Mini makes a good impression here, though after an extended period under load, the graphics unit grows too hot and throttles a little, as described in the Performance section of this article. In practice, however, this drop in performance is not noticeable, though it may prove to be more of an issue for future high-end games.

 28.6 °C30.2 °C33.1 °C 
 28.7 °C29.6 °C33.0 °C 
 28.3 °C29.1 °C31.8 °C 
Maximum: 33.1 °C
Average: 30.3 °C
30.9 °C30.5 °C28.8 °C
30.9 °C28.9 °C28.6 °C
30.6 °C29.6 °C28.2 °C
Maximum: 30.9 °C
Average: 29.7 °C
Power Supply (max.)  38.7 °C | Room Temperature 21.8 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speakers

Like the iPad Air, the iPad Mini Retina houses two stereo speakers that flank the Lightning port. The sound quality is excellent. High tones are clear, mid-tones are distinctly audible and the bass is comparatively robust. Even at maximum volume, the speakers do not crackle or distort the sound. Unfortunately, the speakers are not well positioned. Because the two boxes are located too close to one another, the tablet does not produce a real stereo sound. If you want to play an audio file with the device resting on a table, it is better to lay it with the display side down, otherwise the sound is dulled as it collides with the surface of the table. The stereo jack (3.5 mm) functions perfectly.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The iPad Mini Retina consumes between 1.1 and 4.1 Watts of power in idle mode. At full display brightness, the tablet uses a little more energy here. Under load, the energy consumption rate rises to up to 8.3 Watts. This is a little higher than the Acer W3 (8.1 Watts), but because the Apple tablet is outfitted with a considerably higher resolution display and a more powerful SoC, its higher power draw is completely acceptable.

The iPad Mini's behavior in standby mode proves to be exemplary -- it needs just 0.1 Watts. When the device was completely shut down, we did not detect any power usage.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 1.1 / 3.9 / 4.1 Watt
Load 6 / 8.3 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

The Apple iPad Mini Retina is equipped with a 23.8 Wh built-in battery, which is substantially larger than the batteries that power its competition (Nexus 7: 16 Wh, HDX 7: 16.7 Wh). The Acer W3 (25 Wh) is the only device with a larger battery. The Californian company chose this large battery to compensate for the Retina display's higher energy consumption rate, though it also adds to the device's weight and thickness.

The tablet's battery run times turn out to be very good indeed -- the device surpasses its competitors in all areas. The Nexus 7's measured maximum run time (44 hours) cannot be compared to our review device, as we used a different testing method. While the Google tablet was simply turned on and left in idle mode with all communication modules turned off and the display brightness set to minimum, the iPad Mini ran a browser script with activated WLAN that simulated reading a book. At almost 20 hours, the Apple device's results are very good. Under full load and with every power-hungry module activated, the Mini still lasted a respectable 3 hours and 41 minutes.

As with the iPad Air, the Safari browser crashed during our WLAN test. Our solution to this problem was to perform the test manually. We surfed the Internet for an hour and then projected the final run time to be over nine hours -- a good result. In our video playback test, we play a Full HD video on an endless loop (150 cd/m², Wi-Fi off). Here the Apple tablet ran a good ten hours.

All in all, the iPad Mini does very well here, but it cannot quite match its big brother's battery life.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
19h 39min
WiFi Surfing
9h 03min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
10h 01min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 41min

Verdict

In Review: Apple iPad Mini Retina. Test device courtesy of Apple Deutschland.
In Review: Apple iPad Mini Retina. Test device courtesy of Apple Deutschland.

The iPad Mini Retina is a worthy successor of the first iPad Mini generation and a very good tablet. However, it does not quite deserve a place on the podium. The Retina display is an excellent new feature, but its limited color space coverage and poor color accuracy are shortcomings for a premium class device. Considering how well the iPad Air did here, we expected more. The tablet's slightly thicker build and heavier weight are not the end of the world and are hardly noticeable in day-to-day use. The tablet's higher price compared to its predecessor is unfortunate for customers.

Still, the new iPad Mini is the best device in the 7-to-8 inch class. Its excellent manufacturing quality and lightning-quick performance are very appealing. In terms of performance, neither the Google Nexus 7 nor the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 hold a candle to the Apple tablet. Its battery life is also very good. If you like to watch films on your tablet, though, you might be disappointed, as the 4:3 aspect ratio forces the device to display thick black bars to keep the image in its original format.

In summary, the new iPad Mini is a great device, and if you are looking to buy a tablet, we absolutely recommend taking a look at it.

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In Review: Apple iPad Mini Retina. Test device courtesy of Apple Deutschland.
In Review: Apple iPad Mini Retina. Test device courtesy of Apple Deutschland.

Specifications

Apple iPad mini Retina

:: Processor
Apple A7 1.3 GHz
:: Memory
1024 MB, LPDDR3
:: Graphics adapter
:: Display
7.9 inch 4:3, 2048x1536 pixel, Capacitive, 10 touchpoints, Oil-resistant coating, Retina-Display, IPS, 324 PPI, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
16 GB iNAND Flash, 16 GB
:: Connections
Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, Sensors: Gyroscope, Acceleration sensor, Ambient light sensor, Digital compass, Lightning connector (corresponds to a USB 2.0 port, according to its specs), Two microphones
:: Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.5 x 200 x 134.7
:: Weight
0.328 kg Power Supply: 0.089 kg
:: Battery
23.8 Wh Lithium-Polymer
Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 10 h
:: Price
389 Euros Euro
:: Operating System
Apple iOS 7
:: Additional features
Webcam: Rear: 5 MP (2560 x 1920), Front: 1.2 MP (1280 x 960), Speakers: Two stereo speakers, Keyboard: Virtual, 10 watt power supply, Lightning-to-USB cable, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, 12 Months Warranty

 

The packaging is simple, as usual.
The packaging is simple, as usual.
The display diagonal measures 7.9 inches.
The display diagonal measures 7.9 inches.
The Retina display has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels.
The Retina display has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels.
The home button remains the only input medium besides the touchscreen.
The home button remains the only input medium besides the touchscreen.
The webcam is good for video calls.
The webcam is good for video calls.
The case is made of aluminum.
The case is made of aluminum.
The two microphones provide a good sound.
The two microphones provide a good sound.
The physical keys have a clear click point.
The physical keys have a clear click point.
The stereo speakers aren't well positioned.
The stereo speakers aren't well positioned.
The iSight camera lacks an assist light.
The iSight camera lacks an assist light.
The camera takes good snapshots in favorable lighting situations.
The camera takes good snapshots in favorable lighting situations.
The power supply has a power rating of 10 watts.
The power supply has a power rating of 10 watts.
It's very easy to read newspapers, even without zooming.
It's very easy to read newspapers, even without zooming.
Geekbench 3
Geekbench 3
PassMark, Part 1
PassMark, Part 1
PassMark, Part 2
PassMark, Part 2
Basemark X
Basemark X
WebXPRT
WebXPRT
Google Octane V1
Google Octane V1
Google Octane 2.0
Google Octane 2.0
3DMark
3DMark
Google V8 Vers. 6
Google V8 Vers. 6
Google V8 Vers. 7
Google V8 Vers. 7
Basemark 2.0
Basemark 2.0
Sunspider 0.9.1
Sunspider 0.9.1
Sunspider 1.0
Sunspider 1.0
Peacekeeper
Peacekeeper

Similar Devices

Devices with the same GPU

» Review Apple iPad Air Tablet
A7, 9.7", 0.464 kg
» Review Apple iPhone 5S Smartphone
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Devices with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

» Review Acer Iconia A1-830 Tablet
SGX544MP2, Atom Z2560
» Review Acer Iconia A1-810 Tablet
SGX544, Mediatek MT6589

Devices from the same Manufacturer

» Apple MacBook Air 13 MD761D/B 2014-06 Notebook Review Update
HD Graphics 5000, Core i5 4260U, 13.3", 1.4 kg
» Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15 Late 2013 Notebook Review
GeForce GT 750M, Core i7 4850HQ, 15.4", 2.012 kg

Links

Price Comparison

Pro

+Bright, high-contrast display
+Good touchscreen
+Lightning-fast SoC
+Excellent battery life
+First class manufacturing
+Good browser performance
+Great speakers...
 

Cons

-...that are poorly positioned
-No current data transfer standards
-Limited color space coverage
-Poor color accuracy
-Somewhat heavier and thicker than its predecessor
-Expensive

Shortcut

What we like

Such a high resolution display is unique in a device of this size, and subjectively it's a very attractive feature.

What we'd like to see

A larger array of connections, Flash support and expandable storage.

What surprises us

Compared to its big brother, Apple massively reduced the color space coverage on their miniature tablet. This makes no sense to us.

The competition

The competition is currently mostly Android devices: Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, Bullman Tab 8 AQQI and the Windows tablet Acer Iconia W3.

Rating

Apple iPad mini Retina
04/30/2014 v4
Daniel Schmidt

Chassis
92%
Keyboard
65 / 80 → 81%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
34 / 70 → 49%
Weight
86 / 88 → 96%
Battery
92%
Display
87%
Games Performance
62 / 80 → 78%
Application Performance
49 / 70 → 70%
Temperature
89%
Noise
100%
Camera
69 / 85 → 81%
Average
77%
89%
Tablet *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Apple iPad Mini Retina Tablet
Author: Daniel Schmidt, 2013-12- 6 (Update: 2013-12- 6)