iPad Mini Australian Hands-On: Smaller Footprint, Bigger Impact

Ever since there has been an iPad, there has been an iPad mini rumour. Now that fiction has turned to fact and a 7.9-inch iPad actually exists, is it worth it?

Look and Feel

• The iPad mini is the same black (or white) rectangle you'd expect it to be, but as soon as you pick it up, you'll be astounded by the weight. It weighs less than the iPhone 4S you might already carry around, and it's 4.4-inches larger. • The screen isn't Retina-quality. It's 1024x768 at 162 pixels per inch. That's pretty junky in comparison to the fourth-generation iPad, but compared to the dim panel on the Nexus 7, it's awesome. • The device feels the same as an iPhone 5 with the aluminium finish, and that's great. It's what I liked most about the new handset, to be honest. • There's so much screen real estate here, you guys. It's crazy.

Using It

As soon as you get passed the weight and size of the device and go to unlock it, it's pretty much everything you'd expect. If you've ever used an iPad before, there aren't any huge surprises.

It supports vertical and horizontal orientation and looks great on both, and you can run pretty much any app from the App Store. iPhone apps still have the magnification button and bespoke iPad apps fit on the screen perfectly thanks to that 1024x768 resolution panel. It's the same one as the iPad 2.

As far as the specs go, there's no noticeable chug when the rubber hits the road, but I can imagine it being laden down somewhat when you get six months in.

The only real problem from the outset is the price. You'll get your hands on one for a minimum of $369. Compare that to the Nexus 7 and you'll expect to pay around $249 for the same storage and a slightly better processor. It can be a bit wince-inducing when it comes time to hand over your details.

We'll be back on Monday with a full review of the iPad mini.


    Oh wow! Vertical AND horizontal orientation?! REVOLUTIONARY!

    And come on. You can't call the screen crummy and then say its better than a screen of twice the density, that has been described as amazing by several reporters who seem to know how to write a review and not a flame piece.

      Calm down mate... sounds like you've taken you're angry pills this morning.

      Compared to you, who has obviously used all the different devices mentioned in the review.

      The nexus 7 has a pretty well documented issue with washed out colours despite the higher pixel density.

        I've used an iPad 1,2,3. I've used an iPhone 3gs, 4, 4s, 5. I've used android phones of all flavors and also android tablets. Including nexus 7.

        So yeah I think I warrant the right to voice and educated opinion.

        This is not a review. That is my point.


          So you're point is that this is a hands on?

          Like the headline explicitly says at the top.

          If that's the case there are plenty of other articles you should go to on gizmodo and angrily write in then.

            Blake and MatthewS,

            Please look up the correct use of the word 'your' and 'you're'. I can not sit by and watch the internet attempt to reverse the definition of these words. I see too many people using 'your' where they should be using 'you're' and now you two go and do the opposite! You should realise people are growing up on the internet and you're responsible for perpetuating this sloppiness. This is not the society I want to live in. Please look in the mirror, see what you've become and put an end to this immediately. Thank you.

              You're correct, and I am totally on-board with your cause.

          It's not labelled as a review! It's a "hands on". He even says at the end that a review will be published on Monday. Read the article properly, man.

          Step Back we got a badass over here!

        I have a Nexus 7 and "new" iPad and have no complaints about the Nexus screen looking washed out, not saying its as good as the retina but its certainly not washed out or dim, maybe that was early review models.

          I had a nexus 7 as well. I'd agree with the majority, the screen was a big disappointment. I ended up selling it.

        "Washed out colour"... I'd be wary of that sort of thing. Pixel density is a solid hardware issue, can't change it, but that colour thing often comes down to settings. It's generally something you can alter to your tastes on Samsung devices- Though I don't know the limitations of Nexus stuff.

      i love it when apple haters take a simple apple feature and take it for granted as industry standard. when it was apple that MADE it industry standard.

      how dare apple set the bar. let alone set it so high.

        Oh god who cares. Screen rotation is now a standard function on all platforms, Apple, Windows and Android. Who gives a toss. "ZOMG APPLE DID IT FIRST!" "ZOMG! ANDROID DID IT FIRST!"

        Its DICKSIZING. Something that's beneficial to both yet makes neither superior to the other. Get*over*it.

        Owner of an iPad 3 and a SGS2 phone. BOTH are fantastic machines. BOTH do autorotation.

        I didn't even know Apple did it first. It just made sense that it did that. Nothing huge.

      The vertical/horizontal thing may just be a little aside to the home screen of the Nexus 7 being unable to do that as stock.

        Wrong, the Nexus 7 does the full screen rotation thing on 4.1.2. I saw the iPad mini and compared it side by side to the Nexus 7 in JB's. The Nexus 7 in store didn't have any colour wash out (and wasn't dim at all even on 50% brightness - maybe Giz's unit had auto brightness on), and I found brightness was much better on the Nexus 7, especially at acute various angles. The iPad Mini's pixelation was very very visible (unlike the iPad 3 which is amazing), where as the Nexus 7 was crisp and clear - I was quite disappointed and found the Mini's screen just isnt a great device to look at photos on. I cant imagine why Giz says there is "quite a bit of realestate", considering Apple sticks to its standard tiled icon arrangement with MASSIVE gaps between each icon. At least you can resize widgets and download launchers that enable you to resize icons on the Nexus 7 to make optimum use of the 1280x768 pixel space!

        I don't know if its iOS or only having 512mb RAM, or the 1ghz single core processor but I experienced quite a bit of lag on the Mini when closing apps (like angry birds) and starting new apps straight away. Some scroll lag in settings too.

        TBH, its just not worth the extra hard earned $120. The Nexus 7 feels so much better in the hand (the rubbery back is sweet) and I honestly think Apple is just committing daylight robbery at a $369 price point..

        After falling in love with the4 3rd gen iPad, this is such a Massive disappointment - both price point, hardware and features.

          Note - "as stock".

          I'm not arguing or anything, just pointing something out.

            Interesting. Didn't know that. I only ever tried that on the Nexus after getting 4.1.2, so I just assumed it could to it anyway.

            Not a big deal anyway- not all that useful.

            "Stock" on a Nexus device is whatever the current software release is, that's the whole point of the Nexus thing. So yeah, auto-rotation is one of their standard features now...
            I envy that with Nexus devices.

              Yeah that is a neat thing that. But I have to admit I wasn't aware of the change in 4.1.2, since I'd already conditioned myself to how it was set up at launch. :[

      You seem offended? A flame piece?

      Get over man, its a f***ing tablet computer- who gives a flying f**k.

    My biggest issue will be the screen. They should of put a retina screen on it. But clearly the mini is aimed at schools and education and or people who don't cear much for screen resolution.

      They could *have* put a retina screen on it, but they need to save that for the second generation to give people a reason to upgrade don't they ;)

        Considering that the ipad 3 had to be thicker, have a bigger battery, runs hotter and needs a more powerful processor to push the extra pixels it's just as likely the technology isn't there yet to build a 7odd inch screen with the same rez as the ipad 3 (in order to make it a seamless experience for users and developers). Or the screen would be to expensive and difficult to build by the suppliers in volume at the moment.

          Uhh, you do realise that an iPhone is a lot smaller than both the iPad and iPad mini and still manages to have a retina display, right? It doesn't have to have the same resolution as the iPad 3 to have a retina display, just a comparable DPI.

            Yes clearly I realise that. But in absolute terms the iPhone is still much lower rez than the ipad 3 so doesn't need the same grunt and power to push the pixels.

            To use your solution of using a comparable dpi means an intermediate resolution which would mean all the developers now have to redo all the artwork for a third resolution. In a years time maybe the technology will have improved to the point when the can build the 7 inch screen at the same rez as the ipad 3 while maintaining the battery life of the old model.

            It's the resolution that impacts the performance. The iPhone and iPad mini have resolutions that aren't all that different to one another, with the older iPhones having a similar processor to what is inside this device.

            If they were to make this a retina, they would need a better processor and battery. Also, it wouldn't even shock me if a display that comes to the same dpi as that in the iPad 3/4 would actually cost more than the larger models display due to the inherit cost of working with smaller tech and the fact the market isn't exactly floded with displays of that specification.

            I'd imagine that if they could do it, they'd struggle to keep the costs much below the iPad 3/4, let along the iPad 2 which is also still on the market.

    Managed to get my hands on one this morning. Agree completely with this review, including the bit about the price. Its a shame they didn't release this in a range of colours like the iPod Touch.

    It seems that in most tech sites little is mentioned about the 2 year old internals - who cares it looks good seems to be all I am hearing. It seems to me that you are better off buying an iPad 2 than this device. The only reason I can see for buying this device is that the size of the screen is critical to your decision.

    Thanks Giz Au for a more balance view

    Last edited 02/11/12 11:34 am

      I've had an iPad 2 Instead of a computer for about a year now, travelling with it almost every day, and I'd have to say that the iPad mini definitely appeals to me. The iPad 2 is great, but I find it can often be a bit bulky.

      Thats tech sites for you but. The authors and readers probably want to be on the cutting edge. In terms of the market, most consumers probably don't care a lot and are driven by other needs. Afterall, the iPhone 3GS was still being sold by Apple until the iPhone 5's launch.

    Is this a press event or did you do a product review in store?

    I could get over the screen if it ran an A6 processor. I couldn't bring myself to upgrade my iPad 2 to a smaller iPad 2. A6 and Retina and I would have been there with bells on.

    I had a look at one of these at the Apple store today and have to say that although the hardware feels great, the screen is a little 'off' if you are used to using a retina iphone and/or iPad.

    I don't own an iPad yet, and was hoping that something like this could feel the gab between phone and laptop when I am on the go for personal and work.

    Actually thought it was ging to be a little smaller than it actually is. The size is excellent, but I am not sure how motivated I would be to take it around with me everywhere inorder to fill the gap the it seems to be aimed at.

    In addition to this, if you are going to use it for on the go then a 3G/4G model would seem to be most logical. Considering these start around $500 mark it starts to get very expensive and I am wondering if my iPhone will just have to do the trick.

      If you plan on having your iPhone with you whenever you have the iPad out and about then you can just connect to your personal hotspot on the phone. No need to pay for two mobile plans, or the extra cash for a cellular-enabled model.

        I do this with a laptop, but how well does it work for an ipad ongoing. Do you need to constantly reconnect, and are you heavily draining the iPhone battery?

          I'd be surprised if you did. I do this with my Android phone and my Nexus 7. My phone is the problem here- if I don't turn off Tethering when I'm not using it, it canes the battery life on the phone. The Nexus 7 can happily stay connected to it for 2 days if you want. Can't see why an iPad wouldn't be the same/better.

          The connection holds just fine. The iPhone battery is the issue as yes, that will drain.

          Another option that may or may not end up cheaper, or may at least be more versatile if you have a laptop or plan to upgrade iPads in the future is to buy a wireless 3G/4G modem. That way you aren't leeching off the primary devices battery and they will work with about anything. The downside is possibly cost (but so is a Cellular iPad) and needing to carry an additional device.

    It weighs less than the iPhone 4S? Typo? 4S is 140g and iPad mini is just over 300g

    And does it include "sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size"? After all, "Apple has done extensive user testing and [they] really understand this stuff... There are clear limits on how close you can place things on a touchscreen, which is why [they] think 10 inch is the minimum screen size to create great tablet apps."

    Or does that extra 0.9" make all the difference, despite them merely shrinking down the entire UI?

      FYI - Steve Jobs is no longer the CEO of Apple. Doesn't matter what he said.

      Also, maybe they did more research and people are more used to smaller touch screen interfaces? Markets change.

        So everything Steve once said is now redundant? Apple fanatics are gonna crucify you...

          Not really, I am just saying that Steve isn't around to say "I was wrong" or "You misunderstood what I said". Apple can't treat Steve Jobs statements as gospel when the markets have clearly demonstrated he was wrong. Steve was smart, but he wasn't infallible, and Tim Cook should know that.

            I absolutely agree with you and I think Apples actually made a smart decision in releasing a smaller ipad. I do think it was however a bad move not putting their retina display in the smaller ipad when the accursed ipod touch has it... though I imagine they would've whacked a hundred bucks on the price if they had.

              As someone has said further up....give it 6 months and watch the iPad Mini "Retina" come out for the same price.....and all the poor fools who'll upgrade too.....

              Mind you, can't complain about Apple too much- I bought a Nexus 7 16GB, now they have a 32GB and 3G version.....which is what I wanted in the first place....

              Actually, Apple tends to keep the prices of their products the same when releasing updates so I doubt they would "whack a hundred bucks on the price"

                You completely misconstrued what I said... Had it had a hi def screen (hate the term retina), they would've thrown an extra hundred on the price probably...

      Do a little research and you will find that yes it does make a pretty big difference. The screen is a different aspect ratio to all the 16:9 tablets out there. So while it is only .9 inch bigger (12%) it translates into a much larger increase in usable space (I forget the number off the top of my head I think it's around 35%).
      The touch targets are now the same size as they would be on an iPhone. It has been mentioned that in some cases the interface suffers, like the landscape keyboard (apparently the keys are too short for people with bigger fingers).

        That works both ways. Usable screen space is 2/3 that of the iPad, and touch targets are also 2/3 the size. You know, of the 10" size that their extensive testing showed was the minimum needed to create great tablet apps.

        Takeaway point: Any statements from any company are biased to the point of uselessness, and serve only to promote the current product range, not to inform the consumer. Trust in your own experiences, not in quotes from marketing literature. Too many people go around regurgitating claims from Jobs, Rubin et al as if they were gospel.

    I have a retina iPhone 4S, and an iPad 2. I don't have an issue with the iPad 2 screen. Considering the Mini has the same resolution at a smaller size I am sure I wouldn't have a problem with it.

    I wonder if the obsession with DPI is a consequence of Apple pushing the Retina marketing so hard?

    I personally don't get it. If I had to pick I'd take a bright display with great viewing angles over a lower quality one with more pixels.

      The only place high DPI really excels IMO is reading plain text. Reading on my iPad 3 is far more enjoyable than on my Galaxy Tab 7.7. For sustained reading the iPad wins hands down, for all other tasks (including browsing the net which is kind of reading, but not as sustained) I prefer the Tab due to its light weight and holdability (if that's a word).

      I think it's more than high dpi products have quickly become industry standard, and it seems mighty strange that both the larger version (regular iPad) and the smaller version (say the iphone) both run in higher resolutions.

      If you've ever used an HTC Desire and then an HTC One XL side by side.....you'd get it.

      The difference in clarity is astounding. The Desire technically should have better colour reproduction because it is OLED, but the SLCD on the XL is close enough that you can't tell the colour difference. Just that beautiful, beautiful crispness.....

      I refuse to go for anything lower in Res on a Laptop than 1600x900 and prefer 1080. It really does make a difference.

    Its just another ad. Apple probably sent the ad through and GIZ just posted it, considering all the IPAD mini bashing they were doing just last week.

    Perhaps before you write the full review you may like to learn the difference between "passed" and "past".

    You lost me completely at: "There’s so much screen real estate here, you guys. It’s crazy."

    Eagerly awaits the full review.. but just like everyone else here.. the lack of Retina killed it for me! But I do prefer the idea of holding the iPad Mini with one hand.. Ergonomics yo!

    It weighs less than the iPhone 4S you might already carry around

    iPhone 4S: 140g
    iPad mini: 308g

    My wife just got her iPad mini from TNT. Have played with it for an hour or so. OS is personal choice but the mini is so much nicer to use then my Nexus 7. iOS on the mini runs much smoother than the Jelly Bean on the Nexus 7. Also documents are great on the 4:3 screen (don't have to zoom and scroll) like I do on my Nexus 7. Since I use my Nexus 7 for viewing and editing documents on the go I think I will be selling it and getting a mini. Will also be selling my iPad 3. The size and weight is worth it alone, especially if used on the go. I didn't expect much from the mini but it is nice (as long as you don't mind iOS).

    hurry up & finish day! I have mine waiting for me @ home..

    I don't really "get" this product... iPhone for portability, iPad for usability... what's the point on compromising on both?

      Handbags. Planes.

      When an iPad is too big and an iPhone is too small.....

      I hate using my One XL for typing on forums, too damn small (and it's 4.7", .7" bigger than the iPhone) and I don't like 10" tabs as they're too bulky. I got a Nexus 7- as the saying goes "It was juuuuuust right" :D

      iPads are supposed to be portable too. As such, this allows you to choose a more portable iPad or a larger more powerful one. By most reports this doesn't really compromise that much on usability at all, and the decreased weight mat even make it more usable. It's the grunt that its really compromising on with the older processor and lower resolution display.

    "but compared to the dim panel on the Nexus 7, it’s awesome."

    I wonder how much they got paid to spout these lies?

    I don't know why people get so worked up over irrelevant things

    I have used a range of smaller tablets (7 inch variety) and gone back to my iPad (10 inch) for everything beyond what I use my smartphone for. The 7 inch size just doesn't work for me!

      That's what she said.

    As I was looking at getting my first tablet I looked at this and the Nexus 7 as I was after a 32gb one. It came down to $180 difference for basically the same thing. Sure the mini has a sightly bigger screen but for me it was not worth the extra $180.

    It is not lighter that an iPhone 4S. The 4S weighs 140g while the iPad mini weighs 308 or 312g.

    So the iPad mini is twice as heavy as iPhone 4S.

    A mini review for the mini iPad :-)

    Personally, I don't think the price is much of a concern. It's low enough to be a between birthdays present to oneself. Those who want either the cache of the Apple brand, or ease of integration with their existing iEverything, will lap it up.

    No need for the rest of us to be angsty about it. Unless the Apple iHards try to tell us that iPad Mini is revolutionary in some way, or that Apple did it first, or other nonsense. (That kind of ignorance is just annoying, and the rest of us geeks have a moral responsibility to set the record straight - for the sake of science.)

    Last edited 05/11/12 12:37 am

    I really just want an ereader....will this be ny good?

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