Apple's iPad mini delivers the full iPad experience in a more portable 7-inch form, complete with the stellar build quality and deep app selection Apple is known for. Reviewers say it's not perfect, however; a mediocre display and older processor aren't as powerful as the hardware found on Android tablets that cost much less.
Good, but not great. The iPad mini packs the same dual-core A5 processor and 1,024-by-768-pixel display found in the iPad 2 (*Est. $400) rather than the more up-to-date internals of the fourth-generation iPad with Retina Display (*Est. $500 and up). Those specs mean the iPad mini trails even cheap Android tablets like the Google Nexus 7 (*Est. $200 and up) and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (*Est. $200 and up) on the performance front, although it's still decent overall. Reviewers say websites can look a bit blurry and you'll notice some lag while opening apps and gaming, but its epic battery life outlasts even the iPad's class-leading charge.
A miniature iPad. The iPad mini's biggest feature is its small size: It's a more portable version of the legendary iPad. It comes with full access to the 275,000-plus iPad-tailored apps available in Apple's App Store and a pair of cameras with FaceTime video chatting capabilities. A 4G LTE-equipped iPad mini (*Est. $460 and up) is also available.
Tablet perfection personified, almost. The iPad mini is lightweight, long-lasting and a cinch to navigate. The only drawback is the slight and occasional lag introduced by the older processor.
Not a sure-fire buy. If you know you want a more portable version of the iPad -- complete with full app support and an exceptional build quality -- and don't mind skipping the 9.7-inch model's eye-popping Retina Display, the iPad mini is a solid buy. However, reviewers say Apple shouldn't ask buyers to pay $330 for the iPad mini when $200 Android tablets offer better performance and higher-resolution displays.
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The iPad mini's excellent build quality and full access to all 275,000-plus iPad apps is enough to earn it an Excellent rating at CNET, although Stein declines to give it an Editors' Choice award. He says the $330 price tag is too high for the low-resolution display, and aging and average processor.
Review: iPad mini Review: the Perfect Size, But at a Price, Scott Stein, Oct. 30, 2012
Engadget.com's Stevens is more bullish than other reviewers. "The iPad mini isn't just an Apple tablet made to a budget. This isn't just a shrunken-down iPad. This is, in many ways, Apple's best tablet yet," he says. Comparing it to $200 Android tablets isn't fair, he argues, saying the deep app selection and superb build quality outshine every 7-inch Android tablet out there despite the average performance and display.
Review: iPad mini Review, Tim Stevens, Oct. 30, 2012
The app selection, build quality and outstanding battery life lead Topolsky to award the iPad mini a rare score of 9 out of 10 at TheVerge.com. "The iPad mini hasn't wrapped up the 'cheapest tablet' market by any stretch of the imagination," he says. "But the 'best small tablet' market? Consider it captured."
Review: iPad mini Review, Joshua Topolsky, Oct. 30, 2012
Mossberg's review doesn't rely as much on benchmark tests as higher-rated sources, but he's known for succinctly summing up how a piece of hardware appeals to the everyman. "If you love the iPad, or want one but just found it too large or heavy, the iPad mini is the perfect solution," he says. He especially likes its incredibly thin design.
Review: Sizing Up the New iPad mini, Walt Mossberg, Oct. 30, 2012
The portability and full-fledged iPad experience of the iPad mini could open new doors and create new fans for the already popular Apple tablet, Siegler says. He calls the $330 price tag in line with its high quality and deep app selection.
Review: With the New iPad, Apple Accelerates; With the iPad Mini, It's Pedal to the Metal, MG Siegler, Oct. 30, 2012