We're just two days away from the official release date of the iPad Mini, Apple's 8-inch tablet designed to compete with other 7-inch tablets already on the market, including Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7.
Even though Apple says the iPad Mini can do everything its bestselling bigger brother can -- even one-upping the iPad, since it can be held in one hand -- many have wondered whether or not Apple's smaller tablet was worth the $329 starting price tag.
To help consumers decide whether or not the iPad Mini is worth purchasing, critics on Wednesday released their first reviews of Apple's tiny tablet, and for the most part, critics say the iPad Mini blows all other similar competitors out of the water, and it is, indeed, worth the price.
We at IBTimes were unfortunately unable to procure an iPad Mini for an early review, but we've rounded up what other critics have to say about Apple's smallest tablet just days before its public release:
Jim Dalrymple, The Loop:
"I picked up my iPad mini and iPad 4 from Apple just after the special event ended last week in San Jose and have been using them ever since. I haven’t used the mini to the exclusion of my iPad, but I wanted to see where this new device would fit into my lifestyle without being forced.
"What I found was surprising to me. I actually used the iPad mini more than my iPad.
"In addition to using the iPad mini in my normal daily tasks, I also found that I would pick up the mini and use it where I normally wouldn’t use the iPad. For instance, if I’m on a phone call, I would typically use my iPhone to look things up while I walk around or type notes, look at Web sites and things like that. Now, I’m using the iPad mini because it’s compact enough to carry around, but not so large that it’s cumbersome.
"I am a firm believer in “you get what you pay for.” The iPad mini is a perfect example of that. If you want to save $50 and buy a cheap-ass tablet, go ahead. If you want quality the iPad mini will be waiting for you when you come to your senses."
Tim Stevens, Engadget:
"Apple wanted to be very clear at its product-packed iPad mini launch event that this isn't just a shrunken-down iPad. And, indeed, that starts with a very different case design. While the second, third and fourth generations of iPads have all been more or less indistinguishable, the iPad mini's anodized aluminum back looks entirely different. In fact, the whole thing looks a lot more like a blown-up fifth-generation iPod touch than a shrunken-down fourth-generation iPad.
"To us, the joy of a 7-inch tablet is walking across the office or the airport, holding the slate in one hand while tapping away at it with the other. The Nexus 7, with its 16:9 aspect ratio, is relatively narrow and easy to carry securely one-handed -- even by those whose mittens are size S. With the iPad mini, holding the slate in the same way can be a bit of a reach. This editor, who wears XL gloves, had no problem palming the littler iPad, but when we handed it to other, dainty-fingered people they sometimes struggled to hold it securely.
"The scrawny bezles on either side actually exacerbate this issue to some degree, as those who must loop a thumb around the front of the device when holding it are forced to put that thumb right on the display. Thankfully, every app we tried handled this situation without issue, Kindle and iBooks turning pages and acting normally even with that stray opposable member making square contact on the digitizer.
"In our standard battery run-down test, which entails looping a video with WiFi enabled and a fixed display brightness, the iPad mini managed an astounding 12 hours and 43 minutes. This gives it the longest battery life of any tablet we've ever tested, besting even the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 by 42 minutes. Indeed during the course of our testing the battery on the iPad mini exceeded our expectations, expectations that were already high thanks to the consistently great battery life offered by the iPad family."
Charles Arthur, The Guardian (5 Stars out of 5):
"It's not a retina screen! It's only 1024x768, so that the resolution is 163ppi. This has been a big complaint (or snark, in some cases) that I've heard from people who haven't laid eyes on this device. If all you read is specifications, then the iPad mini screen is far worse than the Kindle Fire's or Nexus 7's, right?
"Well, put them beside each other, and the story changes. Web page rendering on the Kindle Fire is, frankly, awful. It's blocky, and there's a yellowish cast which personally I dislike. The iPad mini is bright, and white, and the text rendering is good – and there's no obvious pixellation. Kindle books look as good on the iPad mini as on the Kindle Fire. (The latter is optimised for reading those, but not for the web; Amazon would rather you bought books than surfed the web.) Icons on the iPad mini look sharp; on the Kindle Fire, not really.
"What will surprise you is the weight. The specs already show that the iPad mini is lighter than the Kindle Fire, 308g v 395g (and 340g for the Nexus 7); even if you add on a Smart Cover, it's still lighter than the uncovered Kindle Fire. It's thinner too. This is a device that will be ideal for holding in one hand for reading on train rides or other commuting; or you might even forget it's in that coat pocket."
Scott Stein, CNET (Editors' Rating: 4 Stars out of 5):
"What's unique about the Mini? Without a doubt, it's the design. It's cute, it's discreet, and it's very, very light. It feels like a whole new device for Apple. It's light enough to hold in one hand, something the iPad was never really able to achieve for extended periods of time. It's bedroom-cozy. Other full-fledged 7-inch tablets feel heavier and bulging by comparison. This is a new standard for little-tablet design. It makes the iPad feel fresh. After a week of using the iPad Mini, it seems to find a way to follow me everywhere. It's extremely addicting, and fun to use.
"But oh, that screen. It's not bad, not at all, but it's not Retina Display. It's not even as high-res as other 7-inch tablets. If you're an obsessive over crisp text, you'll notice the fuzziness. If you're comparing the Mini to a laptop, you won't. I wanted that display to be as good as the one on the iPhone 5, iPod Touch, and Retina iPad. It isn't, not now. It mars the product for me, because otherwise, the screen size and its aspect ratio is perfect for handling comics, magazines, and reading apps.
"Is the iPad Mini worth its premium, at nearly $130 more than some of the competition? If you're looking to invest in an iPad for the least amount of money, the answer is yes. If you're investing in iOS-land for the first time, this is a very good starting point."
Joshua Topolsky, The Verge (9.0 out of 10):
"Compared to the Nexus 7 or the Fire HD... well, there is no comparison. The iPad's app selection is an embarrassment of riches, and using apps like the powerful Paper or GarageBand, or playing games like the incredibly fun PunchQuest or Letterpress really makes a tremendous case for why a consumer might spend that extra $129.
"Performance on the device was expectedly snappy. I didn't see any weirdness, stuttering, or lag that would cause alarm, though some heavier apps and games took noticeably longer to load up than they do on the new 4th generation (or even 3rd generation) iPad. I think for the time being, the mini can handle what developers are throwing at it just fine — but I do have my concerns about the shelf life of this product considering how much older its internals are. Given Apple's habit of rapid-fire obsolescing of products, your timeline for the mini may be shorter than you expect.
"Battery life was — not surprisingly — everything Apple claimed it would be. On the tablets more than on any other product the company makes, it seems to be hitting its targets on longevity. I spent some pretty heavy days in mixed use (intermittent sessions of email, web browsing, Twitter, IRC, game playing, music, and video playback), and didn't have to worry about charging until about the middle or evening the next day. Overall, I was more than satisfied with the iPad mini's battery performance.
About The iPad Mini
The iPad Mini is powered by Apple’s dual-core A5 chip, features the same 1024 x 768 resolution of the iPad 2 (which means no Retina Display), weighs just 0.68 pounds -- as light as a notepad -- and measures just 7.2 mm thick -- roughly the thinness of a pencil.
Besides the difference in size, the iPad Mini can do most things the iPad 4 can do. It still runs on iOS 6, Apple's latest mobile operating system, and is compatible with the new Lightning dock connector. However, even though Apple sells "cellular" models of the iPad Mini, this new smaller tablet does not support the high-speed LTE network.
Initial pre-orders for the iPad Mini sold out quickly, and the next batch of iPad Minis are expected to deliver in two weeks. Apple will still have plenty of the new iDevices in stock when they officially go on sale this Friday, Nov. 2. Apple will begin selling the iPad Mini in its Apple retail stores starting at 8 a.m. local time for any customers still hoping to own a new iPad on Day 1.
Apple starts selling Wi-Fi versions of the iPad Mini at $329, while “cellular” models start at $459.