Review roundup: Apple iPad Mini (2019) – The littlest tablet who could
Pencil in some time for this little guy.
Ever since Apple released the first iPad Mini, it’s been the small-factor tablet to beat. Just something about the size, shape, and speed, coupled with the usual great screens that Apple procures adds up to near-magic. Android tablets just don’t have anything comparable, with the closest being the discontinued Kindle Fire HDX.
While the refresh is a welcome upgrade, since the last time Apple gave the Mini any love was over three years ago, it feels slightly cobbled-together from spare parts bins. Apple Pencil support is great, but it’s the Gen 1 Pencil, you know, the one with the awkward Lightning plug to recharge. Oh, and you don’t get the Pencil in the box, it’s an extra $99.
The move to the A12 Bionic chip is awesome, it’s the same core as the iPhone XS or XR so it packs a ton of power. While you can multitask on the iPad Mini (two side-by-side apps, one swipe-over and a fourth if it’s a floating video), the lack of screen real-estate means you can’t quite get as much work done. Still, it’s not screen real-estate people buy it for.
While it’s only been a couple of days since Apple sneakily announced the iPad Mini refresh via a press release, with a release slated for next week, selected outlets already have been sketching away on their review outlines, so let’s see what their early thoughts are.
There’s not much to talk about here over the prior model. The same sizable bezels are all still sizable, the physical home button still exists and everything is still right where they left it on the 2015 model. Seriously, did Apple just have a parts bin of chassis to use up?
Engadget decried the lack of effort, saying “I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that Apple didn’t see fit to revise the mini’s design after a more than three-year hiatus. It just looks a little dated.”
So did LaptopMag, while calling the huge white border “borderline offensive compared to what you’ll find on the iPhone XS and iPad Pro.”
Ah, finally some improvements. The 7.9-inch screen in the new iPad Mini has the same resolution as prior models, but with the inclusion of Apple’s TrueTone tech and a better panel for brighter colors.
LaptopMag’s testing showed that it covered 135% of the sRGB spectrum, a huge improvement over the 99.8% coverage of the prior model.
The Verge said the screen is “very nice, in the way that Apple LCDs are always very nice,” which is more of a scathing indictment of the rest of the tablet marketplace than saying anything nice about Apple’s efforts here.
The upgrade to the A12 Bionic chip should make this a little firecracker, with only the A12X of the iPad Pro range being faster out of Apple’s portfolio. Other than that, the internals seem to have stayed mostly the same, with the exception of an LTE-equipped model.
DigitalTrends says, “iOS 12 feels buttery smooth on the Mini,” going on to say that unless you’re using a lot of Photoshop or video editing apps, there’s more than enough power here for anyone.
That was echoed by Engadget, saying “for the first time in years, you’ll be able to buy a small iPad and not feel like it’s being outgunned by its siblings.”
The bottom line
My iPad Mini review: It feels like holding five years ago in your hands but in a good way.
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) March 21, 2019
So, some extra power under the hood, with a better screen to boot. We can overlook the lack of change of the overall design, with such a small tablet maybe those huge side bezels make it easier to hold without pawing at the screen. But what do the big outlets think?
TechCrunch loves the updated iPad Mini, calling it “a standout device,” going on to talk about how “the smallness is a real advantage,” giving the Mini a niche that keeps it apart from the ‘iPad as a replacement for laptops’ debate.
The Verge puts it down to a simple choice: “do you want a small, capable tablet? If you do, the mini is obviously worth $399, especially when you consider how long Apple has supported iPads for in the past. There’s just nothing else like it.”
Those sentiments were echoed by LaptopMag, who states: “Apple has given its slate enough oomph to justify the device’s $399 price.”
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