The Apple mini with Retina Display is every bit as great as the Apple iPad Air (Est. $500 and up) , but packed into a smaller tablet. You can argue about value, or grouse that the iPad mini with Retina Display is harder to use with one hand than competing Android tablets, such as the Google Nexus 7 (Est. $230 and up) , but not even the harshest critic can take issue with its performance or the quality of its touch screen.
As fast at the iPad Air. While critics liked the original iPad mini well enough, many were disappointed that Apple decided to hobble it somewhat by using older technology and a more mundane display. Well, there are no such issues this time around. The iPad mini with Retina Display uses the same processor (Apple's A7) used in the iPad Air and iPhone 5s. The processor is run a little slower than on the Air (though at the same speed as the iPhone 5s); that shows up in synthetic benchmark testing but not in real-world use, reports PCMag.com. While the Retina Display is given stiff competition by the high-resolution screens found on the Nexus 7 and other small Android tablets, it remains as beautiful and usable as ever.
Almost everything you could want. If you want access to the widest variety of tablet apps, the iPad family, including the iPad mini with Retina Display, is the slam dunk choice. Apple's iOS 7 operating system brings a host of improvements and apps with it, including free iWork and iLife apps. The front and rear cameras appear to be the same as in the iPad Air, which means they are good for a tablet, but not as good as the shooters on the iPhone 5s, Laptop Magazine reports. LTE models are unlocked and will work with multiple carriers, though adding LTE is about a $120 upgrade. Wi-FI now makes use of MIMO technology for faster performance and improved range.
As easy as Apple pie. Android tablets are more customizable and flexible, but the iPad mini with Retina Display provides a seamless, easy-to-use environment that many simply prefer. Performance is fast and sure. The keyboard lacks niceties such as haptic feedback, but it works well. Some say that the 7.9 inch screen makes that tablet just a touch too large for comfortable use one-handed.
CNET awards the iPad mini with Retina Display an Editors Choice award. There is some concern over cost, but Stein's bottom line is that by shrinking the Air down to an even smaller package, Apple has created "the perfect small tablet."
Review: iPad Mini with Retina Display review: Pricey, mighty Retina Mini is best small tablet yet, Scott Stein, Nov. 13, 2013
2. Laptop Magazine
The Apple iPad mini with Retina Display also earns an Editors' Choice nod at Laptop Magazine. Spoonauer calls the iPad mini with Retina Display a "midsize" tablet rather than a small one, and says it's the best on the market. He acknowledges the high price, but adds that in context with other Apple tablets, it's a relative bargain: "For $100 less than the full-size iPad Air, you get the same sharp screen resolution and blazing A7 chip in a more compact design."
Review: Apple iPad mini with Retina Display Review, Mark Spoonauer, Nov. 14, 2013
The Apple iPad mini with Retina Display earns an excellent 4.5 star rating here, but fails to win an Editors' Choice award. Segan's biggest concern "is that the mini's small-tablet competitors all cost much less, and they're also great devices."
Review: Apple iPad mini With Retina Display, Sascha Segan, Nov. 14, 2013
David Pierce has no qualms recommending the iPad mini with Retina Display, awarding it the same 9.3 rating bestowed on the iPad Air. "The mini used to be the lesser one, the reductive one, the one you bought if you couldn't fit or afford the iPad," Pierce writes. "Now it's just the smaller one."
Review: iPad mini with Retina display review, David Pierce, Nov. 14, 2013
Brad Molen says that the "mini now shares top-tier product status with the iPad Air." But while "this is precisely the iPad mini we've been waiting for," its upgrades come with a significant price increase. That means that some "budget-minded buyers" might be swayed by less expensive tablets (like the Nexus 7), which also are great performers with great displays.
Review: iPad mini with Retina display review: as good as the Air, just smaller, Brad Molen, Nov. 15, 2013
The Apple iPad mini with Retina Display earns a Recommended award here. Kypreos finds that the mini improves over its predecessor in all the ways that it needed to -- including a better screen and faster performance. However he still finds the cost increase "a little hard to justify."
Review: iPad mini 2 Retina review, Evan Kypreos, Nov. 17, 2013