People who love the iPad mini really love the iPad mini.
It's easy to forget that Apple seems to have forgotten the iPad mini – the latest update, the iPad mini 4, came in 2015 and has barely been mentioned since. Most people, both inside and outside Apple, believed that the mini-market's mid-market position would eventually be eroded by ever-larger phones and the reorientation of the iPad as a replacement for a laptop.
But people really love their iPad Minis, and they just bought the iPad Mini 4, even though the rest of the iOS product range has been updated and improved over time. Apple told me that it was surprising that people bought the Mini mainly because of its size, not because of its price. And if people continue to buy something, it's worth updating. So there is now a new iPad mini, which has been updated with some of the latest technologies from Apple and is already available at $ 399.
That's some of Apple's latest technology, not all. They still look at the same exterior design, which is now almost seven years old. If you have secretly replaced an earlier iPad mini with the new one, you may not even notice the difference. Any changes to this new Mini are from the inside out and they are meaningful ̵
You would expect an update like this to look so boring with most new features, especially as Apple has taken some strange decisions on the support of Lightning and Pencil along the way. It turned out, however, that I really loved the iPad mini in the last few days – I had forgotten how much I loved having a small tablet instead of a huge phone. Sure, it's a bit of an Apple Parts Bin remix, but it turns out that all the parts are good.
The only reason to buy an iPad Mini is that you want a little killer tablet. There is simply no other tablet of this size that can compete: The Android tablet app ecosystem is anything but great, small Android tablets usually have much slower processors and are already thought for watching videos Windows Tablets next to the Surface Go, which is considerably larger than the Mini.
With the new iPad mini, you essentially get all the features of the new iPad Air in a smaller package with more and better support for tablet apps on the market. If you're the kind of person who wants a powerful little tablet, the new iPad mini is the best choice. It is basically the only choice .
That does not mean that this new iPad Mini is perfect or even of the arts. These bezels are a real eye-catcher, and the decision to use Apple's first pencil instead of the far superior pencil that Apple developed for the new iPad Pro is very strange. If you're trying to put together a coherent story about Apple's iPad lineup, good luck. However, it turns out that none of that really affects the daily life of the iPad mini.
The following is new: There's an A12 processor with Apple's Neural Engine, an updated 7.9-inch widescreen display, Gigabit LTE and Dual Sim support in the mobile models, and a new 7-megapixel front camera with f / 2.2 lens.
Then there's a bunch of old stuff: They still have a physical home button with touch ID enabled. The front – here no face ID or fancy haptic button – and below two stereo speakers. On the back is the same old 8-megapixel camera (1: 2.4), which records at best medium-sized photos. There is a headphone jack that warms my heart. And there's the Lightning connector on the bottom, not USB-C like the new iPad Pro.
Apple has told me that USB-C is considered to be professionals and that compatibility with the existing ecosystem is really important from iPad mini accessories and workflows, so the company is stuck with Lightning. I understand that – the new Mini is a simple replacement for the old ones, and you can not do this with a plug change – but at this point, Apple's commitment to USB-C is ubiquitous. The shipment of two new Lightning iPads at least means that Lightning will remain in the Apple connector mix for some years to come and delay the future if everything uses only one universal connection. You have dreams, the iPad mini is reality.
The support of Apple Pencil is equally confusing: The iPad Pro came out with a new second generation late last year. A pencil magnetically attached to the side of the iPad and wirelessly charged, but this new Mini has nothing from that. Instead, you have the first-generation pencil from Apple, which has never been a triumph of design and ease of use. You pair and charge it by plugging it into the bottom of the iPad, which looks even more ridiculous on the mini, and the cap is still incredibly easy to lose.
Using the old pencil is the reason why I say it feels like Apple has invaded the iPad trash can: The new pencil is so much easier to hold to charge and track. If there was a fierce competition in the market for small tablets, I would assume that Apple would have opted for the new Mini with the second generation pencil, because it is so clearly superior. But that's not the case, so you get the first generation pencil, which is obviously worse. Hold on to this cap.
The Pencil itself works just like the first generation Apple Pencil on another iPad: it's fast and responsive, works well in apps that support it, and generally feels the iPad is much more than just a consumer device, even if you do not use it by the ton. However, it is not included in the box: it costs another $ 99, which increases the total cost of the new Mini to $ 500. It feels like a failure. If Apple is serious that iPad developers support the pencil, he should put it in the box.
Apart from the pencil support, the display is very nice, just as Apple LCDs are always pretty. It has a wide color support, a remarkable brightness of 500 nits and is laminated in contrast to the cheapest iPad, so it looks like you are touching the pixels. What does not exist is ProMotion, Apple's sophisticated variable-frame-rate technology that makes scrolling on the iPad pros extremely smooth. I love ProMotion, but to be honest I did not miss it too much on the smaller screen of Minis.
I did not have the Mini long enough to fully test battery life, but I did not charge it Once a week I had it and the battery is still 31 percent. Apple cites 10 hours of video playback time and it's not as if iPads have had battery issues in the past, so I would expect them to do pretty well.
The A12 processor is the same chip in the iPhone XS and XR very fast – I did not experience any slowdown or delay when I edited photos in Lightroom, played a few games and tried a few AR demos. The Mini runs on the same iOS 12 as other iPads. This means that you can also multitask, which is very funny on such a small screen. There was a moment when I had two open apps, another that opened in a popover window, and a video ran at the same time – it looked damned full, but it all worked flawlessly.
When I looked through the iPad Pro I found iOS 12 all too restrictive – while the hardware felt that it should take the place of my laptop, the software was just not up to the task. Not so with the iPad Mini, which is too small to meet these high expectations. iOS 12 on a screen this size feels light and nimble, and the iPad app with multiple apps just feels like the system helps to organize little screen space, rather than trying a completely new one Develop computer mode. You can do a lot on an iPad mini, but not too much, and that feels like a device that is obviously sitting between a phone and a laptop.
And after using the new iPad mini for a while, I was reminded why people like it so much. Phones and tablets have been getting bigger for years, and it's refreshing to use a tablet that remains stubbornly small. I enjoy reading the Mini better than my big iPads, I feel less rude at meetings than my cell phone or my laptop and it has a headphone jack. The only thing I wish was an intelligent keyboard port so I did not have to deal with a Bluetooth keyboard, but it's not a big loss.