The First Look At The iPad Mini & What It Has To Offer

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apple ipad miniWell the Apple iPad Mini has arrived, and Dave was correct back in May about why Apple should have released a smaller iPad 3 and bigger iPod touch device. As Dave outlined, the mini addresses the needs of different users; the entry price is lower and thus affordable for many consumers, and it competes pretty well with the Nexus and Windows tablets.

But now that I’ve had my iPad Mini for over 24 hours, I’d like to give some first hand reactions as to what is good and not so good about it. Along the way, I’ll suggest a few essential apps that work well with it, as well as share some ideas on how supporting apps could be improved to make the mini more useable.

Why I Purchased It

I purchased the Apple iPad Mini mainly for two reasons – my original iPad 1 is not supported by iOS 6, which contains several productivity features I find useful, and secondly, the larger size original iPad began to wear on me for the purposes of e-reading. I’ve longed for a Kindle size reader, but I waited to see if Apple would produce it. However, if I had already purchased the iPad 3 I’m not sure if I would have got the iPad Mini, considering the high price of both devices.

apple ipad mini

The Smaller Size

Most definitely, the iPad Mini is a larger size iPod touch. So does that make it worth purchasing? I would say yes only if you find the iPod touch or iPhone a little too small for media consumption, and the regular iPad a little too large or cumbersome to hold in various situations.

Yes, I can hold the iPad in one hand (though that might not be the case for people with smaller hands), but I have found that the handheld iPad Mini is not perfectly comfortable for holding for longer periods of time. The Mini may be as thin as a paper notebook, but it is still not as lightweight as one.

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apple mini ipad

I am most comfortable holding the Mini lying down with it propped up on my stomach, which is how I have always held the original iPad for extended reading periods. I also find that the sides of the Mini are a little too thin for holding the device comfortably. This is not a huge problem, but it may be so for people with larger thumbs than mine.

apple mini ipad

Readability Factors

I think the iPad Mini will largely appeal to people like myself who use the iPad primarily as a reading device. I use apps like Pocket: Read It Later, Instapaper, NewsRack, GoodReader, Amazon for the iPad, and the Zinio magazine reader to consume most of the articles, books and other documents I read on a daily basis.

As I predicted, I find the iPad Mini an almost perfect reading device because of the smaller form factor. When I pop open a Kindle e-book on the Mini, it feels a lot more like I’m reading a mid-size paperback book.

However, I find iPad apps in which you can increase the text font size most useful for the Mini. Though existing iPad apps will work on the Mini, it is clear that some developers will need to update their apps so that the interface text and icons are a few points larger for the smaller size iPad. Apple for one needs to make these updates in its Mail, Notes, And Reminders apps.

apple mini ipad

Reading articles on the iPad Mini has also taken me back to using Instapaper again, instead of the Read It Later Pocket app. Instapaper’s unique tilt scrolling feature is perfect for the iPad Mini. Not only does it save you the trouble of manually scrolling pages but it actually can increase the speed of reading articles. Too bad this feature is not in the latest iBooks 3 update.

An Awesome Notepad

While I don’t think the iPad Mini is useful as a laptop replacement, I already find it a very useful writing notepad. Because of the default speech-to-text dictation feature in iOS 6 (which is another reason I purchased the device) you can easily and quickly dictate notes in any text supporting app. In addition to the device’s built-in microphone, I like to use the remote microphone on the Apple earplugs for dictating extended pieces of writing. It would be even more productive if the remote control could actually activate a dictation feature.

mini ipad

Apps like Drafts, Evernote, Day One, and aNote HD are beautifully suited for writing in the iPad mini. Each of them as a comfortable user interface, and are setup for syncing notes between devices.

Miscellaneous Items

I purchased the 16 GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad Mini simply because I don’t travel as much as I used to, and thus don’t need a lot of space. I won’t for example be adding more than a gigabyte of music or video files to the device. I do have to say however 16GB is pretty low for heavy users of the iPad. Over the next two years, as I add more apps, documents and e-books, the lack of  storage will definitely be a problem that I will have to manage –primarily using cloud storage services.  No doubt this first version of the Mini will be unsupported by future iOS updates that will make the device nearly as outdated as my iPad 1.

The Mini is also the first time I’ve used the Apple Smart cover, which is very handy for quickly turning the device on and off when you lift up and close down the cover. However, I don’t find the Cover very stylish and will probably order this Men’s Cover case from Etsy.

mini ipad

I also think the base entry price for the iPad Mini ($329) is about thirty bucks overpriced, especially considering that Apple knew that a significant percentage of their current iPad 3 customers would probably want to update to the smaller device. I suspect that Apple will bring down the price of the Mini in about a year, but it will release another version with Retina display.

Speaking of Retina display, I still can’t say it matters much in my eyes. I put the Mini alongside my wife’s iPad 3 and the difference in display presentation simply does not jump out for me. But I’m sure that over time Apple will find ways to make the display and the text sharper in all versions of the iPad.

apple ipad mini

Well that’s my initial assessment of the Apple iPad Mini. I’ll no doubt be writing a few more articles about useful apps for the device, but in the meantime, it would be great to hear your views. Let us know if you purchased one, plus why or why not?

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Comments (42)
  • Kenneth Caldwell

    I am thinking of buying an Ipad mini because my ipod touch 4th gen is just way to small and I don’t like the Ipads because they are too big. Do you think the Ipad mini 16 GB is a good choice for someone who doesn’t download to much? And also do you think it is much better than the Ipod 4th gen? Please help me decide if I shoul purchase this item.

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Kenneth, I think the iPad mini is great for reading ebooks and surfing the web. It’s a great size between the iPod touch and the larger iPad. 16 gigs is okay, but if you find yourself adding lots of documents, ebooks, photos, and apps, then 32 gigs might be better. I plan to step up to 32 gigs with the next version of the iPad. I’m already down to 2 gigs on my current iPad mini. You could buy an iPad mini, use it for a week, and if you don’t like it, just return it to Apple. Since I got the mini, I’ve used my older iPad 1 only a few times.

  • Eath Chantrea

    It has both pros and cons, but the most important is you using for what purposes.

    • Bakari Chavanu

      You’re right, Eath. I think the important thing is that Apple has now made available different versions of the iPad that fits the needs of different people. So you just have to choose the one that fits your purposes and needs. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Boni Oloff

    After reading this review, i decide not to use the iPad mini. The size looks not so comfortable for me..

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Boni, I’d definitely go check it out hands on first if you’re concerned about the size. If you don’t have an Apple Store near by, I do believe there’s a 14 days return, money back, policy for Apple hardware. But yeah, some people will find it too small.

    • Boni Oloff

      Yap, i’ll try to get intouch with it first.

  • Laga Mahesa

    RAM. This is my burning question. The 3rd and 4th gen iPads have 1Gb. Thankfully I am still on an iPad 2, so going Mini wouldn’t hurt that much.

    For those going from newer iPads to the iPad Mini, though, here’s my question : has the drop in RAM availability been noticeable? Have apps suffered, has your max number of open tabs in web browsers dropped? Has photo editing become limited?

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Hmm, I haven’t noticed a slowness of apps launching or anything. But then again, I’m coming from the iPad 1 where things had started getting slow. It would take like 30 seconds for an app to delete.

  • Paolo Maffezzoli

    Nice article with an interesting comparison of the iPad & iPad Mini. For my side , I prefer my current Ipad 2 because is more comfortable read magazines on a 10″. The iPad Mini could be interesting in mobility for reading books ( iBooks, Kindle apps , etc. ) and internet browsing.

    • Bakari Chavanu

      Paolo, you’re right, the larger size iPad definitely makes magazines feel and read like magazines. I’ve always liked that about the 10″ iPad. I subscribe to 3 magazines on it for that reason. But now that I’m using the iPad mini, I still like reading the magazines on it. I do have to pinch zoom the text to read the articles, but I was doing that with the 10″ as well. As for reading ebooks, I find that I had to actually change the font type and size in order to read comfortably. Helvetica works best for me. In lower light situations, it seems the sepia background works best for reading, rather the stark white background that can be too bright.

    • Laga Mahesa

      How long have you had an iPad? I ask because I no longer even consider magazines – compared to RSS feeds and other curated news feeds, magazines are way out of date, with information and news that is a month old. The only things left are the editorials, most of which are available online anyway through their own portals.

    • Bakari Chavanu

      I got the first iPad when it came out, and didn’t upgrade to another one until the iPad mini came out. I agree that magazines seem seem little outdated in a world of endless online “magazine” and blog sites. But I like and support publications like JazzTimes, The Nation, and Macworld or MacLife. My problem since the iPad came out is that I simply don’t have enough time to read all the stuff that I download and come across. My book reading is about half of what it used to be say 5 years ago.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.