In what started a busy week in the world of mobile technology, Apple announced two new tablets last Tuesday: the 7.9-inch iPad Mini and the latest generation iPad 4 which sports the normal 9.7-inch display.
The iPad Mini is Apple’s first attempt to create a more portable tablet computer. Following in the footsteps of Google and Amazon who have released low-cost 7-inch tablets this year, the new iPad Mini features a 7.9-inch display which is approximately 40% smaller than the full-sized iPad. Whilst the Mini doesn’t have a Retina display, it is priced at £130 less than the full iPad which will make it a popular choice for many this Christmas.
Apple also announced at their event that they would be releasing a new 9.7-inch iPad, despite the fact that the iPad 3 was released only 7 months ago. The 4th generation iPad includes an improved Apple A6X processor which promises double the performance of the iPad 5. It also features a higher-resolution front-facing camera for FaceTime and the new Lightning dock connector which was introduced with the iPhone 5. As with the iPad 3, the iPad 4 features a Retina display.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at the iPad Mini. We will see how it compares against the full-sized iPad and against other 7-inch devices such as the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Finally, we’ll ask which of these tablets will make their way onto your Christmas wishlist this year.
7.9-inch Display: A more portable iPad
According to Apple, the iPad Mini is designed as a more portable tablet that can comfortably be held in one hand. Compared to the full-sized iPad, the display has been shrunk by 40% and the weight has been more than halved. The iPad Mini weighs just 308g: this compares to 652g for the iPad 4. The combination of these two changes means that you shouldn’t need two hands to hold the iPad Mini comfortably.
The iPad Mini has a 7.9-inch display. In terms of size, this puts it between the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 “phablet” (5.5-inch display) and the iPad 4 tablet (9.7-inch display). The iPhone 5 has a 4.0-inch display.
iPad Mini VS iPad 4 (Retina iPad): Comparison
In moving towards a smaller, lighter and cheaper iPad, Apple has made several compromises in the Mini.
Firstly, the iPad Mini lacks the ultra-sharp “Retina” display of Apple’s other signature products such as the iPhone 5 and the full-sized iPad. The display on the iPad Mini has a resolution of 1024x768 pixels with a pixel density of 162 pixels per inch (162ppi). The Retina iPad has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels at 264ppi. The end effect is that the display on the iPad Mini won’t be quite as sharp as on its larger sibling.
The iPad Mini also features the older Apple A5 processor. In contrast, the iPad 4 contains an Apple A6X processor which Apple claims to be at least twice as fast.
Aside from these differences, both tablets share a lot in common. They both run the iOS 6 operating system with features such as Apple Maps, FaceTime, iMessage, iCloud and the Siri virtual assistant. Both devices also feature a 5 megapixel rear camera and can be purchased with wi-fi or wi-fi + 3G connectivity options.
Notably, the 3G version of the iPad Mini requires a Nano SIM card to function whereas the iPad 4 comes with a Micro SIM slot.
iPad Mini: Comparison to Nexus 7 & Kindle Fire
The launch of the iPad Mini puts Apple in direct competition with Google and Amazon, both of whom released 7-inch Android tablets earlier this year.
Compared to Google and Amazon’s offerings, the iPad Mini has a slightly larger display at 7.9-inches. Although the larger screen means more space for your photos and videos, the screen is lower resolution so your content won’t look quite as sharp and clear. The iPad Mini is also significantly more expensive than rival offerings: both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are available from £159 but the iPad Mini starts from £269.
Size Comparison: The extra 0.9-inches in the display makes the iPad Mini larger than both the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD.
The iPad Mini compares to the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD as follows:
The wi-fi versions of both the iPad Mini and the iPad 4 will go on sale tomorrow morning (Friday 2nd November). If you’re looking for the 3G version, you’ll need to wait until late November.
In this article, we’ve looked at the iPad Mini: Apple’s new 7-inch tablet offering which aims to deliver better portability at a lower price point. We also looked at how the iPad Mini compares to the full-sized iPad and Android-based offerings such as the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.
What do you think of the iPad Mini? Do you think Apple was right to release a 7-inch tablet or do you feel that 7-inch tablets are “dead on arrival” as Steve Jobs once claimed? Will either of these tablets be on your Christmas wishlist this year? We’d love to hear your thoughts: please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!