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Review Apple iPad Mini Tablet

Felix Sold (translated by Liala Stiegitz), 11/16/2012

The new number one? Apple has now introduced a smaller tablet featuring a 7.9-inch IPS screen called iPad Mini besides its iPad 4. The older Apple A5 dual-core SoC and a lower screen resolution reduce costs. But will this also have an impact on performance and quality?

Following innumerable rumors and information, Tim Cook (CEO) and Phil Schiller (SVP & Head of Marketing) introduced the Apple iPad Mini (iPad 2.5) on October 23rd 2012. This is the Cupertino-based company's response to customer demand. Smaller tablets for a lower entry price seem to be sought-after just before Christmas. But Apple also wants to attract new customers who deemed the previous model one size too big. Steve Jobs,  the company's founder, declared 7-inch tablets as not marketable with the words "7-inch tablets are going to be DOA - dead on arrival" in 2010. Alas, even a visionary can be wrong. The aluminum unibody was redeveloped and now looks like that of the iPhone 5. Apple again sets new standards with a height of just 7.2 millimeters and a total weight of approx. 300 grams.

The installed hardware is a mix of old and new. Cutting edge wireless technologies, the Lightning port and the 7.9-inch screen with a resolution of 1024x768 in a 4:3 aspect ratio are new. Compared with the older iPad 2, the pixel density has clearly increased a bit. However, the screen cannot keep up with the high-definition screen of its big brother (2048x1536 pixels, 264 dpi). The installed Apple A5 dual-core SoC with a clock rate of 1000 MHz (according to Geekbench) is well-known. Other features are a 512 MB working memory and up to 64 GB of memory capacity.

A look at Apple's previous tablet portfolio shows that the iPad Mini is the new entry-level device. The price for the Wi-Fi-only model sporting a 16 GB memory starts at 329 Euros (RRP; ~$418, model: A1432). The company charges 100 Euros (~$127) for every additional doubling of memory capacity. The mobile internet version (3G & LTE) will be available in late November and a surcharge of 139 Euros (~$176) is demanded for this feature. What does the iPad Mini have to offer? How will it perform in comparison with its most serious contender, Google's Nexus 7? Who will want to purchase the iPad Mini? The answer to these and other questions are found in our review.

Case

A slim and lightweight aluminum unibody
A slim and lightweight aluminum unibody
The build and feel is good as usual
The build and feel is good as usual
The "biggest" opponent in our comparison - Google's Nexus 7
The "biggest" opponent in our comparison - Google's Nexus 7
We're testing the "Black & Slate" iPad Mini
We're testing the "Black & Slate" iPad Mini

The iPad Mini's hardware is installed in a completely new aluminum unibody casing. Both iPhone 5 color combinations are also available for the iPad Mini. "Black & Slate" features an anodized aluminum back paired with a front made of pigmented glass. "White and Silver" exhibits a conservative rear and white glass ceramic on the front. The volume control buttons on the casing's right are now separated - a small gimmick that pleases in everyday use. The material impression, build and stability are very compelling, as expected. The device makes an extremely high-end impression and definitely outdoes Google's Nexus 7 and its polycarbonate casing. However, the Android rival's rubber-coated back has advantages in terms of resistance. The iPad is comparatively sensitive, making a protector or cover a must.

The bigger screen and narrower display bezel let the iPad Mini look quite a bit bigger than Google's Nexus 7. However, the chassis' dimensions of 13.5 x 20 x 0.7 centimeters (w x d x h) are more pleasant in our opinion. It is neither too small nor too big and unhandy. Apple scores by combining a low total weight of just 308 grams (Wi-Fi) with a very slim build. The not yet available model featuring 3G/LTE will weigh four grams more at 312 grams according to Apple. The Nexus 7 is heavier at 340 grams and also thicker with 10.45 millimeters. Altogether, the iPad Mini is pleasant to hold. The back's lightly roughened surface provides a good grip but magically attracts fingerprints. We cannot say whether this is different in the white edition. 

Finally, a comparison with the new iPad 4 featuring a 9.7-inch screen would be interesting. This edition provides more power and an almost two inch bigger screen. However, it is also more than twice as heavy with a total weight of 652 grams (Wi-Fi). The dimensions also limit portability. While the iPad Mini can be easily stashed in a large pocket, the iPad 4 usually has to be stowed in a knapsack, briefcase or shoulder bag. The lower total weight and the option to permanently hold the Mini in one hand seem more important to us than the dimensions, which you can coordinate.

Connectivity

The casing's sides do not reveal any surprises. A smaller Lightning connector is on the bottom. It can be inserted from both sides and allegedly uses the USB 2.0 capacity better than the obsolete 30-pin connector of older Apple tablets. The jack for a headphone or headset is on the top left, as usual.

Of course, we could criticize that the iPad Mini does not sport a dedicated USB port for peripherals or a micro SD card reader here. Especially since every additional doubling of memory capacity is quite expensive at 100 Euros (~$127). However, Apple sticks to the closed system that apparently does not bother many people. Google does not offer a card slot in its latest consumer devices either. According to Matias Duarte (Director of Android operating system User Experience at Google), the user-friendliness has been lessened. This kind of statement would usually have been expected from Apple.

Right: Volume button, slider
Right: Volume button, slider
Top: Power button, microphone & audio (stereo jack)
Top: Power button, microphone & audio (stereo jack)
Bottom: Speaker, Lightning connector
Bottom: Speaker, Lightning connector
Update message after the first boot - iOS 6.0.1
Update message after the first boot - iOS 6.0.1

Software

The iPad Mini is delivered with iOS 6 ex-factory. However, a message stating that iOS 6.0.1 can be downloaded pops up right after the first boot and Wi-Fi connection. The update was installed on our test device within a few minutes. The operating system does not exhibit many new features otherwise. We summarized the most important modifications of iOS 6 (on our German page).

The application performance is very satisfactory despite the comparatively weak hardware. This can likely be ascribed to the hardware and software's closed system. App incompatibility should not be an issue due to the similarity with iPad 2 (SoC and resolution). It is obviously not possible to enjoy the Retina version.

Face-lifted App Store
Face-lifted App Store
World clock with a pretty map
World clock with a pretty map
iOS system settings
iOS system settings

Communication & GPS

Despite the low entry-price, the iPad Mini sports state-of-the-art communication equipment. The A1432 Wi-Fi only model that we tested provides a dual-band Wi-Fi module that supports the transmission standards 802.11 b/g/n in with 2.4 GHz and 802.11 a/n with 5 GHz. The Wi-Fi module in our test model was compelling. The wireless connection always remained stable even over two stories and the data rates were constant at a high level. Its speed is on a par with an iPad 3 (16 GB 4G) and a 2010 MacBook Pro 13. Asus' Transformer Prime clearly began to lag behind at a midrange distance in the test.

Bluetooth v4.0 is integrated for short-range wireless connecting of peripherals and data sharing. Compared with the previous revisions, Bluetooth 4.0 is faster alongside improved energy efficiency. Until now, NFC (near-field communication) is not an issue at Apple.

Apple will be releasing the iPad Mini with an LTE module in late November. However, this chip will only support the 1800 MHz frequency range in Germany. Like the iPhone 5, only customers of German Telekom (T-Mobile) will enjoy the swift wireless connection. The connection is limited to a maximum of 42 Mbit/s via UMTS, HSPA+ or DC-HSDPA at other providers. Investing the additional 130 Euros (~$165) is worthwhile if the iPad Mini is to be used as a navigation system. Only these models support localization via A-GPS and Glonass. Both versions also include a digital compass besides the Wi-Fi module.

Cameras & Multimedia

The iPad Mini sports a 5 megapixel primary camera, using parts from the iPhone 5, for snapshots (2592x1936 pixels). However, it will likely only achieve the standards of an iPad 3 or 4 due to the low, overall depth. The imaging quality is acceptable, whereas the iPhone 5's lens shoots nicer pictures in 8 megapixels. However, a comparison with Sony's NEX-5R shows that there is still room for improvement. Those switching from the older iPad 2 will nevertheless be pleased with the installed module. Google's Nexus 7 does not feature a primary camera. The tablet only sports a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera which does not allow taking pictures of the surroundings. But it is doubtful that anyone will seriously want to shoot photos or videos with the tablet. A smartphone, small digital camera or a DSLR appear handier.

It is possible to zoom in on the motif using two fingers on the iPad Mini. However, it is only a digital zoom. A 50% close-up causes visible quality loss. Another disadvantage over a Cupertino smartphone is the omitted LED flash. The iPad's camera is only useful to an extent in poor lighting conditions. Also, the image noise increases considerably in dim surroundings.

Apple dubs the front-facing camera "FaceTime Camera" and gives it a resolution of 1.2 megapixels in this case. It enables videos in 720p and recognizes faces. The same module is found in the iPad 4 and is comparable with the lens in Google's Nexus 7. We find the picture quality for calls via Skype or FaceTime appealing. In contrast to the front-facing camera, the primary camera records videos in 1080p (1920x1080 pixels) with 30 frames per second (fps). They are then stored on the device's internal memory in .mov format.

Primary camera: 5 MP
Primary camera: 5 MP
Primary camera: 5 MP (Zoom: 50%)
Primary camera: 5 MP (Zoom: 50%)
Primary camera: 5 MP (Zoom: 100%)
Primary camera: 5 MP (Zoom: 100%)
iPad Mini: Primary camera
iPad Mini: Primary camera
iPhone 5: Primary camera
iPhone 5: Primary camera
Sony NEX-5R (18 millimeters)
Sony NEX-5R (18 millimeters)
iPad Mini: Front-facing camera
iPad Mini: Front-facing camera

Accessories

The usual minimalism prevails in the box. Besides the device, we find a USB power cord, a Lightning cable, printed documents and two stickers. Other accessories have to be bought separately. Apple offered a revised "Smart Cover" made of polyurethane for approx. 40 Euros (~$50) at the launch. The hinges are now completely sheathed and the contact is lined with soft microfiber. The functionality is no different than the larger version. The larger cover features four links and looks more stable. A completely enveloping "Smart Case" is not yet available for the iPad Mini.

Modular PSU & cord
Modular PSU & cord
Red Smart Cover by Apple
Red Smart Cover by Apple
New: Microfiber contact
New: Microfiber contact
The front part features two magnets
The front part features two magnets
For playing videos
For playing videos
Position for active use
Position for active use

Warranty

As usual, Apple only includes a 12 month warranty ex-factory. The statutory warranty (in Germany, 24 months) has to be seen separately. A warranty upgrade to 24 months including telephone support is available for an additional 80 Euros (~$101).

Input Devices & Controls

Inputs are only entered via the capacitive touchscreen. Basic taps and multi-touch gestures are implemented quickly and without problems. The controls at the edges in profile mode make a refined impression. Due to the narrow bezel, you could assume that it often comes to typos or that applications are opened unintentionally. However, the iPad detects the alignment and removes the sensitivity in the according places. This hidden feature has a positive effect on use and design in practice.

iOS automatically fades in a virtual keyboard for entering text. It can be configured in the system settings. In addition to the standard QWERTY keyboard, a German keyboard is also available in iOS 6. Here, the umlauts are permanently faded in at the keyboard's right. It is easy to work with the default keyboard in profile due to the device's narrower width. From the editor's point of view, the special "Thumb Typing" keyboard is counter-productive in this device, but that is a matter of taste. The iPad Mini can optionally be connected to a Bluetooth keyboard or be used with a special stylus.

Complete QWERTZ keyboard in the Safari browser
Complete QWERTZ keyboard in the Safari browser
The "Thumb Typing" keyboard is superfluous
The "Thumb Typing" keyboard is superfluous

Display

7.9-inch screen with 1024x768 pixels (4:3 format)
7.9-inch screen with 1024x768 pixels (4:3 format)

The iPad Mini's driving force is supposed to be the installed 7.9-inch screen from Samsung, which makes up roughly 40% of the production costs. It only features a resolution of 1024x768 pixels in a 4:3 format. Apple has basically adopted the resolution from the older iPad 2. Due to the smaller surface area, the pixel density has increased to 163 dpi, like in the iPhone 3GS. The mini-tablet cannot compete with the high-res version in the standard iPad (2048x1536 pixels; 264 dpi) or comparable devices such as Amazon's Kindle Fire HD or Google' Nexus 7 with a 7-inch screen. The screen in the Nexus 7 displays a more focused image owing to its 216 dpi and also has a finer resolution of 1280x800 pixels in 16:10. However, the difference is only seen in a direct comparison. The difference will be noticed if you have an iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro with a Retina screen. Apple did not offer any high-definition alternatives at the launch. Nevertheless, it is possible that one of the next generations will be equipped with a corresponding screen. The icons and interaction elements on the iPad Mini are smaller than on the iPad 4 and its precursors despite the lower dpi count. The iPad apps are all still optimized for a 10-inch screen. We did not experience any serious problems in the usage during the test but the browser's tab bar, for example, was more difficult to close. 

Apple's comparison between the iPad Mini and Google's Nexus 7 reaped in a lot of criticism during the presentation. Although the iPad Mini's screen is in fact 35% larger, it cannot display 67% more content. The Nexus 7 (Android 4.1.2; Google Chrome) cannot display more content in profile mode despite a higher resolution ex-factory. However, this would look different in full-screen mode without the virtual Android controls. The iPad Mini wins due to its 4:3 format in landscape mode. It is ultimately a question of the application field. When you mostly use the tablet to watch movies, then the Nexus 7 is doubtlessly the better device since its 16:10 format hardly exhibits unsightly edges. In our opinion, the iPad is perfect for users who spend most of their time on the internet.

330
cd/m²
329
cd/m²
346
cd/m²
322
cd/m²
363
cd/m²
345
cd/m²
340
cd/m²
331
cd/m²
333
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Gossen Mavo-Monitor
Maximum: 363 cd/m²
Average: 337.7 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 363 cd/m²
Black: 0.51 cd/m²
Contrast: 712:1
The iPad Mini's color space coverage (source: DisplayMate)
Minor bleeding in darkened rooms

The IPS screen, which likely comes from Samsung, makes a good impression in the assessments. With an average brightness of 337.7 cd/m², Apple's tablet outperforms Google's contender. The homogeneous illumination is noticed positively in both tablets.

The 7.9-inch screen's black value of 0.51 cd/m² and contrast of 712:1 is in the upper field. However, the Nexus 7 scores marginally better in this measurement. The images on the Nexus however have a light yellowish cast in a direct comparison. The iPad Mini also reproduces more saturated and vivid colors.

Only slight, annoying bright spots were seen on a dark background in a dimmed room. The so-called bleeding is not perceived in everyday use. According to DisplayMate  the iPad Mini covers 62% of the sRGB color scale. The Nexus 7 achieves 86%. However, normal users can neglect these rates. The iPad Mini's colors are innately well-calibrated and look just about as balanced as on a calibrated Fujitsu P27T in a direct comparison.

Outdoors
Outdoors

The screen's glossy surface and the measured rates oppose each other in outdoor useReflections cannot be completely avoided outdoors, but the good brightness can compensate for that quite well. The brightness can be reduced a bit in moderately lit rooms in favor of battery runtime. However, reducing the brightness in direct light, sunlight or bright rooms has a negative impact on the content's legibility. Nevertheless, the iPad can be used easily on the go with maximum brightness.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles: Apple iPad Mini Tablet/MID

Despite the screen's lower resolution, Apple relies on the viewing angle stable IPS (in-plane switching) technology for this device. The content remains consistently legible both horizontally and vertically. We did not observe color fading or an intense brightness decrease in flat angles.

Performance

Inside: Apple's A5 dual-core SoC of the iPad 2
Inside: Apple's A5 dual-core SoC of the iPad 2

It does not always have to be "the latest and greatest" - at least not according to Apple. The iPad 2's older A5 dual-core SoC (system-on-a-chip) powers the iPad Mini. Apple developed this chip and it is based on ARM-compatible Cortex A9 processing cores that are clocked with a maximum of 1 GHz and are likely built in a 32 nanometer structure width. Thus, the technology in the smallest representative of the series is one or two generations old. The third generation iPad sports Apple's A5X SoC which features a faster graphics card. In return, the iPad 4 accommodates a new A6X dual-core SoC with quad-core graphics.

The processor is supported by a PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU. This CPU-GPU combination did not exhibit any problems with up-to-date games or HD videos in the practical tests. Other features are a 512 MB working memory and up to 64 GB of memory capacity.

The iPad Mini is on a par with Apple's iPad 2 and iPad 3 with an A5X chip in all measurements using the CPU and memory test, Geekbench 2. The test device only achieves 750 points in the overall rating and is easily surpassed by Google's stronger Nexus 7. Nvidia's Tegra 3 SoC in the 7-inch tablet secures it an advantage of 113% (1599 points). The iPad 4 featuring the new A6X SoC scores even better and allegedly also easily outperforms the Nexus 10 according to first reports.

Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit
Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
750 Points ∼5%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
1599 Points ∼11% +113%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
1768 Points ∼12% +136%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
759 Points ∼5% +1%
Apple iPad 2
SGX543MP2, A5, 64 GB SSD
764 Points ∼5% +2%
Integer (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
671 Points ∼4%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
1419 Points ∼9% +111%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
1330 Points ∼9% +98%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
687 Points ∼4% +2%
Apple iPad 2
SGX543MP2, A5, 64 GB SSD
691 Points ∼4% +3%
Floating Point (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
906 Points ∼5%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
2370 Points ∼13% +162%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
2262 Points ∼13% +150%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
920 Points ∼5% +2%
Apple iPad 2
SGX543MP2, A5, 64 GB SSD
923 Points ∼5% +2%
Memory (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
833 Points ∼9%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
1231 Points ∼14% +48%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
2053 Points ∼23% +146%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
818 Points ∼9% -2%
Apple iPad 2
SGX543MP2, A5, 64 GB SSD
838 Points ∼9% +1%
Stream (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
323 Points ∼3%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
269 Points ∼3% -17%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
1012 Points ∼11% +213%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
333 Points ∼4% +3%
Apple iPad 2
SGX543MP2, A5, 64 GB SSD
333 Points ∼4% +3%

Linpack's multi-thread calculation assesses the CPU's performance and the iPad Mini seems to have an easier time with it. The advantage over the Nexus 7 is 44% in this test. The iPad 4 is in another league with over 600 MFLOPS.

Linpack Android / IOS - Multi Thread (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
124.4 MFLOPS ∼5%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
69.296 MFLOPS ∼3% -44%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
654.29 MFLOPS ∼27% +426%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
141.98 MFLOPS ∼6% +14%

The generation gap is seen in the display-independent, off-screen benchmark from GLBenchmark 2.5.1. The iPad 3 with the A5X SoC is much faster than the iPad Mini with 22 fps to only 12 fps. The iPad 4 is twice as fast as the iPad 3 and achieves a smooth 43 fps. The Nexus 7 has to admit defeat with just 7.7 fps. The difference is 36% in favor of Apple's small tablet.

GLBenchmark 2.5
Egypt HD Fixed Time (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
21 fps ∼35%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
11 fps ∼18% -48%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
37 fps ∼62% +76%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
18 fps ∼30% -14%
1920x1080 Egypt HD Offscreen Fixed Time (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
12 fps ∼2%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
7.7 fps ∼1% -36%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
43 fps ∼8% +258%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
22 fps ∼4% +83%

We recorded similar scores in the browser benchmarks. The iPad Mini and the Nexus 7 are on a par in the Browsermark and Sunspider Java Script benchmark. The Nexus 7 scores much better in Google V8. However, it must be pointed out that the device and the benchmark come from the same developer. The iPad 4 scores a lot better than the two smaller devices and is currently the benchmark leader in the tablet division.

Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
852 Points ∼5%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
1236 Points ∼7% +45%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
1661 Points ∼9% +95%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
838 Points ∼5% -2%
Browsermark 1.0 - --- (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
122228 points ∼22%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
127504 points ∼23% +4%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
204149 points ∼37% +67%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
126324 points ∼23% +3%
Sunspider - 0.9.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad mini
SGX543MP2, A5, 16 GB SSD
1556.8 ms * ∼15%
Google Nexus 7
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 8 GB SSD
1722.8 ms * ∼16% -11%
Apple iPad 4
SGX554MP4, A6x, 32 GB SSD
895.3 ms * ∼8% +42%
Apple iPad 3. Gen 2012-03
SGX543MP4, A5x, 64 GB SSD
1860 ms * ∼18% -19%
Apple iPad 2
SGX543MP2, A5, 64 GB SSD
2041 ms * ∼19% -31%

* ... smaller is better

Finally, we compared the iPad Mini with Google's Nexus 7 in a video. The Mini wins with an advantage of 15 seconds in a cold start. Overall, the performance of both devices is compelling. However, the mobile Safari browser seems to deal better with pinch-to-zoom and the corresponding calculation. Then again, the Nexus 7 has the advantage when playing movies. The black bars at the top and bottom are much narrower.

Games

The gaming performance does not need many words due to the closed system. The games available in the App Store are rendered smoothly and without problems. Well-known games include Fieldrunners 2, Infinity Blade 2, Rage HD and Real Racing 2 HD. We only occasionally noticed slight delays in Infinity Blade 2. Overall, the tablet made a good impression, although the boot times are a bit longer. Apart from the gaming performance, the iPad Mini does not have any problems displaying 1080p videos, HD material from iTunes or non-aligned internet sites.

Fieldrunners 2 HD
Rage HD
Real Racing 2 HD

Emissions

Temperature

The temperature development is a particularly important aspect for tablets since the produced waste heat can only be discharged passively over the casing's outsides. With a maximum of 33.8 °C, the iPad Mini is at most lukewarm in idle mode. The load measurements are also within an acceptable range. We simulated these scenarios by using 3D games and the battery test from GLBenchmark 2.5.1. The maximum temperature reached was 35.1 °C. All in all, this is a compelling presentation in this part that does not need to be criticized.

Max. Load
 28.9 °C30.5 °C34.5 °C 
 28.7 °C29.5 °C34.4 °C 
 28.8 °C29.4 °C35.1 °C 
Maximum: 35.1 °C
Average: 31.1 °C
33.4 °C33.2 °C31.2 °C
33.1 °C32.1 °C30.7 °C
32.3 °C31.5 °C30.7 °C
Maximum: 33.4 °C
Average: 32 °C
Power Supply (max.)  40.1 °C | Room Temperature 22.2 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The iPad Mini sports stereo speakers on the bottom
The iPad Mini sports stereo speakers on the bottom

The iPad Mini is Apple's first tablet that features stereo speakers. They are located left and right of the Lightning connector on the bottom. It is this positioning that nullifies the advantage. The sound is only emitted from the right when playing a movie with the tablet in landscape mode. Stereo sound is only heard when you are facing the speakers. Apple should have discarded the standard design here and placed the speakers at the screen's left and right.

The rendered sound seems more pleasing compared with previous iPad models. The maximum volume is adequate, the trebles are not too prevailing and bass is also reproduced. The speakers vibrate noticeably at maximum volume. However, we do not find this unpleasant. The rear-side speakers in Google's Nexus 7 can almost keep up with the speakers in a direct comparison. However, its sound is sooner limited to trebles. The mid and low ranges are only faintly distinct. Due to the more natural sound, the iPad Mini wins the point in this part.

Peripherals can be connected via the integrated 3.5 mm stereo jack. The transmission is beyond reproach. Apple has a new optional HDMI adapter available for the Lightning connector so that the user's home cinema system with AV receiver can be connected. Apple demands a steep 50 Euros (~$63) for this accessory.

Battery Life

Power Consumption

We checked the Mini's consumption via Voltcraft's VC-940. The tablet consumes between 2.7 and 5.6 watts in idle. The iPad 4 only needs more power at the upper end. Apple still promises a mixed-usage runtime of approx. 10 hours despite the reduced battery capacity of only 16.3 watt hours. The smaller IPS screen is likely one of the reasons for the increased energy efficiency.

The consumption reaches its peak at 6.3 watts during load. The difference to its bigger brother becomes obvious here. The iPad 4 with the new A6X SoC consumes up to 12.5 watts and almost twice as much power. However, the battery capacity of 42.5 watt hours is also much higher. Overall, the iPad Mini's consumption is within the limits of this device category.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 2.7 / 4.9 / 5.6 Watt
Load 5.9 / 6.3 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC-940

Battery Runtime

The built-in battery supplies 16.3 watt hours (picture: ifixit.com)
The built-in battery supplies 16.3 watt hours (picture: ifixit.com)

The possible battery runtimes are an important aspect for many readers. We performed various measurements in relation to this. Using the GL Benchmark 2.5.1 tool, we measured the minimum battery runtime in maximum brightness and enabled mobile technologies. A complete battery charge was drained after 5 hours and 20 minutes.

The Reader's test simulates reading a text document in minimum screen brightness. In the case of iOS, an automated script is run while Wi-Fi is enabled. Surprisingly, the test device shut down after exactly 24 hours. The difference to the iPad 2 is 18.6% (17:51 hours) and the main contender, Nexus 7, is on a par with the iPad 2. The difference to the Mini in this case is 19.6%.

However, "browsing via Wi-Fi" seems more important. A new website is visited every 40 seconds at a standardized screen brightness of 150 cd/m². The iPad Mini manages a runtime of 12 hours in this assessment, whereby embedded flash content cannot be displayed under iOS. Compared with (some) Android or Windows devices, that leads to slightly distorted results in the same test setup. Google's Nexus 7 achieves a much lower score despite a similar battery capacity.

The iPad also makes a good impression when rendering a HD movie in .m4v format and a resolution of 1920x815 pixels. A battery charge lasts for 610 minutes in maximum brightness and enabled Wi-Fi module. Up to five 120 minute movies can be played. The runtime should be more than sufficient on an overseas flight or a long drive.

Playing an HD YouTube video puts the system under higher load. The tablet has to go back to the mains after approximately 5 hours and 15 minutes. A full recharge takes roughly 210 minutes. Then the iPad can be used for playing a game, for example (test: Dead Trigger). 5 hours of gaming fun are possible using maximum brightness and enabled Wi-Fi.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
24h 00min
WiFi Surfing
12h 00min
Load (maximum brightness)
5h 20min

Verdict

Apple iPad Mini Tablet/MID
Apple iPad Mini Tablet/MID

Apple enters new territory with its iPad Mini and its 7.9-inch screen. A successful start. The choice of materials, the feel and workmanship fulfill the expected premium claim despite the low price. The low total weight combined with a thin aluminum chassis sets standards. The difference to the iPad 4 is especially noticed in the 9.7-inch screen.

For whom is the iPad Mini the right tablet? The device will be perfect for you if you mostly use the tablet for internet browsing or if you are on the go a lot. However, the iPad 4 caters to gaming with the corresponding performance and a high-res screen. Google's Nexus 7 based on Google Android is also an alternative. It is up to you which ecosystem you prefer. The 16:10 screen is soon noticed positively when playing movies or a TV series. The purchase price is also a criterion. Google's tablet is 130 Euros (~$165) cheaper in the basic configuration. The difference even adds up to 260 Euros (~$330) with a 32 GB memory and 3G module. Google does not offer long-term evolution (LTE). The iPad Mini supports this standard for a surcharge. However, only German Telekom customers can enjoy this fast data transmission.

Inside, we find an older Apple A5 dual-core SoC and only 512 MB of working memory. The weaker performance is hardly noticed when compared with the quad-core contenders due to the closed system. However, it is disappointing that Apple did not install its newer A6 SoC from the iPhone 5. The screen resolution will likely be among the major complaints. The available 1024x768 pixels has also been adopted from Apple's second generation iPad, whereby the pixel density has increased slightly. It cannot compete against a much higher-resolution Retina screen. It is quite possible that Apple is gradually leading the first customers to the iPad Mini and is leaving room for improvement for the generations to come. The manufacturer group Japan Display (Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba) has announced a 7-inch screen with 2560x1600 pixels and 431 dpi. The current price and the battery life would however suffer greatly with such a screen.

From our point of view, Apple's iPad Mini is the perfect secondary device alongside a smartphone. It is not too small and not too big and unhandy for mobile use either. The available battery runtimes make a convincing impression. In view of the first sales figures, the iPad Mini could become the new leader of this size category despite a few points of criticism. In addition to selecting the ecosystem, it of course has to fit in the budget.

 

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In Review: Apple iPad Mini Tablet/MID
In Review: Apple iPad Mini Tablet/MID

Specifications

Apple iPad mini

:: Processor
Apple A5 1 GHz
:: Memory
512 MB
:: Graphics adapter
:: Display
7.9 inch 4:3, 1024x768 pixel, capacitive, multi-touch, IPS, 162 DPI, LED, diagonal: 20.1 centimeters, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
16 GB SSD, 16 GB manufacturer: Hynix, H2JTDG8UD2MBR, integrated
:: Connections
Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, built-in microphone, Sensors: 3-axis gyroscope, acceleration sensor, ambient light sensor, digital compass, Lightning connector
:: Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.2 x 134.7 x 200
:: Weight
0.308 kg Power Supply: 0.045 kg
:: Battery
16.3 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 4400 mAh, 3.72 volt
:: Price
329 Euro
:: Operating System
Apple iOS 6
:: Additional features
Webcam: 5 Megapixel, 1080p, Digital stabilizer, Autofocus, F2.4, 1.2 Megapixel front-facing camera, 720p, Speakers: mono, tablet, Lightning USB cable, modular PSU , stickers, documentation, 12 Months Warranty, webcam: 5 megapixel primary camera, 1080p, digital image stabilizer, auto-focus, face recognition, shutter F2.4, 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, 720p; speakers: mono, tablet, Lightning USB cable, modular PSU, stickers, documents, 12 month warranty, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11n 2.4 & 5 GHz; colors: black or white; Formats.aac, Protected .aac, HE-AAC, .mp3, .mp3 VBR, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV, .m4v, .mp4, .mov, .m4v, .mp4, .mov, .avi, .jpg, .tiff, .gif, .doc, .docx, .htm, .html, .key, .numbers, .pages, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx, .txt, .rtf, .vcf, .xls and .xlsx; Apple Care warranty upgrade (24 months, EUR 80), Smart Cover (EUR 40)

 

[+] compare
Apple's iPad Mini comes in a slim box.
Apple's iPad Mini comes in a slim box.
The tablet is delivered with iOS 6 and the assistant, Siri, ex-factory.
The tablet is delivered with iOS 6 and the assistant, Siri, ex-factory.
The iPhone 5 with a 4-inch screen beside the black iPad Mini.
The iPhone 5 with a 4-inch screen beside the black iPad Mini.
A beautiful rear can also endear: rubber-coat vs. aluminum.
A beautiful rear can also endear: rubber-coat vs. aluminum.
The Nexus 7 can display more content in profile mode.
The Nexus 7 can display more content in profile mode.
New accessories for the Lightning connector. Not cheap.
New accessories for the Lightning connector. Not cheap.
The "Smart Cover" is available in six colors for 40 Euros (~$50) each.
The "Smart Cover" is available in six colors for 40 Euros (~$50) each.
Microfiber in the same color protects the device from scratches.
Microfiber in the same color protects the device from scratches.
It can be used as a stand due to its separate parts.
It can be used as a stand due to its separate parts.
Apple's A5 SoC and 512 MB of RAM are inside.
Apple's A5 SoC and 512 MB of RAM are inside.
GeekBench 2: Google's Nexus 7 pulls away in this test.
GeekBench 2: Google's Nexus 7 pulls away in this test.
A new benchmark in our database: AnTuTu 3D for iOS
A new benchmark in our database: AnTuTu 3D for iOS
The iPad Mini compared with a calibrated 27-inch model.
The iPad Mini compared with a calibrated 27-inch model.
Reflections cannot be avoided in bright rooms.
Reflections cannot be avoided in bright rooms.
The content remains visible in direct sunlight.
The content remains visible in direct sunlight.
We tested the entry-level model with 16 GB and Wi-Fi for EUR 329 (~$419, from the Apple Store) and the 64 GB model directly from the press agency.
We tested the entry-level model with 16 GB and Wi-Fi for EUR 329 (~$419, from the Apple Store) and the 64 GB model directly from the press agency.
The tablet greets you after opening the package.
The tablet greets you after opening the package.
Besides "Black & Slate", the iPad Mini is also available in "White & Silver".
Besides "Black & Slate", the iPad Mini is also available in "White & Silver".
The Mini and its box weigh less than the iPad 4.
The Mini and its box weigh less than the iPad 4.
The iPad Mini's back is made of anodized aluminum.
The iPad Mini's back is made of anodized aluminum.
The small print in the lower area stays discreetly in the background.
The small print in the lower area stays discreetly in the background.
Fingerprints and dirt have an easy time at the back.
Fingerprints and dirt have an easy time at the back.
The Lightning connector is placed between the stereo speakers.
The Lightning connector is placed between the stereo speakers.
The separated buttons for volume control convince.
The separated buttons for volume control convince.
As usual, headphones can be connected in the upper left.
As usual, headphones can be connected in the upper left.
The home button is the iPad Mini's central control.
The home button is the iPad Mini's central control.
5 megapixels for snapshots. We miss an LED light.
5 megapixels for snapshots. We miss an LED light.
The 1.2 megapixel, front-facing camera can be used for video calls.
The 1.2 megapixel, front-facing camera can be used for video calls.

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Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pro

+Workmanship, feel, choice of materials and stability
+Light and compact
+State-of-the-art wireless technologies
+Extensive range of accessories
+Excellent touchscreen & pleasant keyboard
+The IPS screen's good rates
+Outdoor use made possible by high luminosity
+Good application and graphics performance despite older hardware
+The installed speakers' good sound
+Low consumption and good battery life
 

Cons

-Case susceptible for fingerprints
-Limited connectivity
-Subsequent memory expansion not possible
-EUR 140 extra for 3G or LTE
-Screen only supports 1024 x 768 pixels
-Current movies only with black bars due to the 4:3 format
-Only 12 month warranty ex-factory
-Suboptimal positioning of the stereo speakers
-GPS and Glonass only in the 3G/LTE model
-Relatively high entry-price

Shortcut

What we like

The high-end, elegant, stable, light and thin aluminum unibody; the good performance despite the older dual-core SoC; the screen's good rates.

What we'd like to see

A higher screen resolution and/or pixel density; an LED camera light and the option to record longer videos.

What surprises us

That Apple again cleverly markets an entry-level device with simple hardware. The iPad Mini can jump on the bandwagon of the popular and cheaper Google Nexus 7 even without a real "killer" feature.

The competition

The larger iPad 4 with a 9.7-inch screen and A6X chip could be an alternative for iOS fans. Google Android is waiting in the wings in the cheaper Nexus 7 tablet with 32 GB and a 3G module for 250 Euros (~$318). Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 should also be mentioned in this category.

Rating

Apple iPad mini
12/09/2013 v3
Felix Sold

Chassis
99%
Keyboard
63%
Pointing Device
95%
Connectivity
33%
Weight
100%
Battery
99%
Display
85%
Games Performance
20%
Application Performance
40%
Temperature
89%
Noise
100%
Add Points
90%
Average
76%
90%
Tablet *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Apple iPad Mini Tablet
Author: Felix Sold, 2012-11-16 (Update: 2013-06- 6)