The brand new iPad Mini is pretty much everything we expected but how is it, like, in real life? Apple just let the tech world go hands on with the iPad Mini and most agree: it's not as miniature as you'd think! Which is a good thing.
First impressions are that it is indeed light. At just over 30g, it's considerably lighter than a conventional iPad, mainly thanks to using much less glass in its construction. It's also extremely thin, only 7.2mm.
However, the most surprising aspect is that it isn't just a smaller iPad, the bezel is thinner so the whole device fits nicely in the palm even though it features a screen that's almost 8-inches.
Just as the bigger iPad, this one feels delightful in the hand. If you've held an iPad, you know where we're coming from. Yes, it's lighter and more nimble, making it feel as if Apple concocted its own version of the 7-inch tablet. And indeed, that's precisely what has happened here. It's still not "small," though. While a fully outstretched adult hand can generally grasp it without help from the other, you'll still want both for typing and using apps. It's still too big for your average pocket, and it's not going to save you a heck of a lot of room in your knapsack compared to the 9.7-incher.
Like most Apple products, the build of the smaller tablet is excellent, easily surpassing the competition on the market. By comparison, the Nexus 7 and Fire HD feel like toys. Other manufacturers are going to have to up their game with this product in town. It's just a striking difference in materials and solidness.
The thinness and sleekness of the casing cannot be overstated. It feels as high-end as the new iPhone, but even sharper in the hand - like a slice of solid aluminium. The display looks incredibly sharp, and even though the resolution is lower than new the iPad 4th generation, it doesn't immediately seem like a 1024 x 768 display.
An A5 processor means it'll be similar to the fifth-gen Touch. The important part of this iPad is it feels as light as a Kindle, even if it's not as tiny in width and height.
Thumb access on the sides is definitely easier, too. One thumb operation is theoretically possible, and I found I could do it for basic scrolling and page turning.
The resolution may be the "old" 1024x768 of the original iPad and iPad 2, but it's squeezed into a smaller screen, so individual pixels aren't so noticeable. Viewing angles are as broad as we've come to expect from an IPS panel, and iOS 6 doesn't look too cramped, either. Steve Jobs may have been scathing about "tweeners" in the past, but – perhaps unsurprisngly, given iOS is also used on the far smaller iPhone and iPod touch – it works just fine on the iPad mini.
The finish of the device is matte on the back, making for a very nice feeling in the hand. The weight is really the most impressive part, though – as with the iPhone 5, but to an even greater degree, the iPad mini feels almost weightless when compared to its predecessors. It's so thin and light as to feel almost like a prop, rather than a functional device.
But functional it is. The 1024×768 display looks great, and seems larger than its 7.9 inches thanks to the narrower bezels on either side of the screen itself. And while it's slightly trickier to hold as a result of that thinner strip, the screen seems to have a certain amount of false touch detection built-in, so that you won't accidentally open apps or page through things while simply holding it.