Hands On iPad Mini Review - Should You Buy One?

  • Author: Niall
  • Niall Harbison,

The day has come for many countries around the world where iPad minis are going on sale, just in time for the busy holiday season. Ahead of the launch of the iPad mini, the tech press were pretty much split on how useful this device would be and whether it would be a big seller.

The markets have also been worried about the price tag with many fearing that Apple missed a trick by not going down to the $200 mark to take on the likes of Google and Amazon. Let's jump straight in and look at the device in more detail and see if it is worth getting one this holiday season.

Unboxing

The product is a lot smaller than you would imagine and the box that it's packaged in takes you by surprise when you first open it. It seems obvious to say, but it really isn't that much more substantial than a phone. Here is our video showing the unpacking.

How Does It Feel?

Just like the iPhone 5, this is way lighter than you expect it to be. There is a build quality there that you expect with all Apple products, but it feels nearly as light as some of the Kindles. The big thing you notice at first is how wonderfully well it fits in one hand. I expected it to be more of a stretch and my hand to get sore after a while, but this is easier to hold and to me felt more natural than the bigger iPad.

The one small issue that you will have at the start is getting used to an entirely new keyboard, which is neither your phone nor your iPad, and there will be plenty of cursing as you learn to type again.

Video Review

I've often been accused of being very pro-Apple so with that in mind, I decided to grab Aaron to help me review the device and get him to look at it from an alternative angle.

The Screen

It's amazing how quickly we all get used to new features and expect them to feature regularly to see because you do notice the lack of retina display. That is only going to be an issue for people who already have iPads though because to the untrained eye, this still looks and feels stunning.

The apps and video content stretch all the way out to the edges of the tablet and it actually feels more like a full screen experience than the more traditional iPad or other tablets.

Camera

You always feel sort of stupid using a large iPad to take photos, but you don't look quite as bad with this smaller model. The camera is not earth shattering in its quality, but it is up there with most smartphones and will take very decent photos.

Unlike the larger iPad, which you're not going to take everywhere with you, this is going to be with you quite a lot. The fact that the camera stacks up well is important so we'll be seeing a lot more people snapping pictures with it.

The Apps

This is where the device really shines through. All the apps are letter boxed and fit onto the iPad mini in the same way as the larger iPad. There is absolutely no compromise when it comes to apps on this device and with over 250,000 specifically designed for this device from day one, this is the killer advantage that it has over other tablets. Consuming content, surfing the web or using apps on this device is a joy.

The Price

This seems to be the biggest sticking point for many. I'm going to completely buck the trend and say that it is an absolute bargain for what you're getting. For me, it is cheaper than the normal iPad so if I was only buying one tablet, it would be this one which would actually mean a saving of a couple of hundred. This tablet is aimed at an entirely new audience and they are going to experience the build and sheer design beauty of an Apple product for a fraction of the normal cost.

The phone is far more expensive and the only major difference that it makes calls. I wouldn't be going for a ton of storage and would only go with the entry-level option. In fact, the price is such a big concern for me as an investor in Apple because this is going to cannibalise the sales of their far better margin products like the larger iPad. If you buy one of these even at $329 you are going to see it as one of the best pieces of business you ever do.

iPad Verus iPad Mini

I'll be selling my large iPad immediately as I no longer have any use for it. To be honest, I produce a lot of content rather than consuming it so my laptop is key to me and my larger iPad is always seen on my bedside table gathering dust. I also find that although the larger iPad is useful to me when I travel or go to meetings, it is just too cumbersome to bring along with my laptop.

On the other hand, this smaller mini slips into my jacket pocket and I'll take it everywhere with me. If I didn't have to make phone calls, I would ditch the phone entirely and go with one of these full-time. The larger iPad is still a much better device for most people, but this suits my own needs perfectly and I can see many business people getting one.

So Should You Buy One?

It depends on your needs. If it is for the kids to play games on or to use around the house as a content consumption device, this is perfect for you. If you don't have a tablet yet, I would forget about getting a bigger one and go straight for this one. Apple didn't invent this market segment and it's late to the game, but this feels like a winner.

The apps really set it apart and the fact that it ties into everything you already know and love about Apple products makes it the perfect device, although if retina display is a big deal to you, you should hold on for the inevitable upgrade in about April.

Once people get their hands on these, they are going to fly out the door. Forget about the price because paying an extra $100 for the apps and quality of iOS will be totally worth it. Even though this has not been Apple's most impressive launch and there are doubts among analysts, I fully expect this to be an absolute smash hit this Christmas.

Over time and with a couple of upgrades, I'd expect this to become the most important tablet in the world. Big statement I know, but for me it works even better and makes more sense than the large iPad. Make no mistake about it this is the real deal and will sell like hot cakes.