It’s been ten months since the iPad mini was launched and offered us a new kind of tablet experience for us who are mostly on-the-go but still don’t want to miss out on the feeling of using a large and bright screen but in a smaller and lighter way compared to the traditional iPad released in the past years. I just gave into this eye candy of a little creature after 10 months of having second thoughts. So before I bought this gadget, I honestly set my expectations low, but was still excited.
Network: 2G, 3G, LTE (applicable to wifi+4G models only)
Display: 7.9” LED Capacitive Touchscreen
Connections: Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, USB 2.0
Camera: 5 MP rear camera, 1.2 MP front-facing camera
OS: iOS 6 upgradeable to iOS 7
Built-in Memory: Non-expandable 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 512MB RAM
Processor: 1GHz dual-core, Apple A5 chip
Battery: Li-Ion 4490 mAh
The physical features of this downsized iPad takes a lot after its big brother the iPad 4 but differs only in size and weight. The 7.2mm-thick, solid, aluminum body feels really elegant on hand and its 312 gram-weight is negligible and understandable compared to other tablets in the market like the iPad 4 (which is 9.4mm-thick and 662g-weight). Might I add that the chrome Apple logo at the back really looks awesome.
Buttons on the iPad Mini look highly identical to those found in iPod touch 5th gen which is painted and made with the same material used in its body (black or silver aluminum). Volume buttons (+ and -) are found at the right and placed separately from each other. Above the volume buttons is the configurable switch for mute or auto-rotation lock. Below the volume buttons is Nano Sim slot for the 4G models. Sleep/wake button is placed at the top-right and the 3.5 AV jack on the opposite side. At the middle of the AV jack and the power button is the mic and the cellular module for the 4G models. The round-shaped back button is still placed below. Charging slot is found at the lowermost part in the middle of the speaker grills.
Its 7.9” screen-size is good for watching videos, photos, e-books, and web browsing. But as we all know, this device might be better if it packs a Retina display for a better visual experience.
This iPad mini is packed with a 5 mega-pixel touch focus with face detection shooter at the back and a 1.2 mega-pixel fixed-focus in front for Facetime (identical to iPad 4). There is no HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature and a LED flash for night shooting, but this little thing is surely a great snapper with proper lighting. After extensive use, I can conclude that this can take competitive shots for social networking posts but if used under a low-lighting condition, expect a grainy and noisy output. There is still no physical shutter button but the volume buttons compensate for that.
Its video capability is good for taking 1080p video stills using its rear camera. Audio recording is also nice and crisp. I really like the smart tap-to-focus to properly enhance and emphasize video stills.
Sample photos using the iPad Mini:
OPERATING SYSTEM & OTHER SOFTWARE
iOS 6.1.3 runs in this iPad smoothly and nice. It’s upgradeable to the new upcoming iOS 7 to be announced on September 10 this year together with the new iPhone and the new models of iPad 5 and iPad mini (if that’s how they call it). We all know the advantages of the prestigious iOS like the exclusivity and its simplicity, having thousands of different apps and games in the App Store. But the downside of this OS is that it takes a little time to get used to being dependent to iTunes in syncing media files (although some third-party apps helps).
This iPad also comes with iMessage pre-installed so you can deliver free messages to other iOS 5 and above devices anytime and anywhere through Wi-Fi, but if you are on-the-go and want to have your own internet connection even without Wi-Fi, you can go for the 4G model at a higher cost and have the pleasure of browsing the web, updating your social networking sites, streaming videos on Youtube, Facetime and deliver iMessage through your cellular data connection (depending on your data provider). Games that require an internet connection will also profit greatly from the 4G capability. With Globe Telecom as my network provider, my LTE connection never fails me almost everywhere I go here in Davao City. This makes the iPad mini a great weapon in terms of fast and reliable web browsing without compromising the screen-size. Using apps such as iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Safari is a breeze.
A non-removable 4490 mAh battery comes packed in this iPad. I absolutely love that my iPad stays awake for me for more than a day at full brightness and active LTE connection 24/7 with Globe as my network provider and often tethering to my iPhone 5 as well. You don’t have to worry about staying near wall sockets just to charge and continue using your iPad. The Lightning charging port is also a nice upgrade so you won’t be having a hard time inserting the cable on any side you want. I just hate the fact that I’ve been through five of these little buggers because it gets easily broken. But overall, this device is a solid and durable gadget.
If you want to have a handy tablet for e-books and videos, the iPad mini is surely a great companion with its good battery life and 4G capability. As a student, I can really optimize every capability of this iPad, from snapshots, e-books, to web browsing, and saving notes. Hands down, it’s the best portable tablet currently in the market (maybe not until September 10).
Photos taken using a Nikon D90 camera with 18-200mm lens.