Apple iPad mini with Retina Display Review

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Thanks to the discourse that was exposed during Samsung and Apple’s legal spat in California, e-mail records revealed that Eddy Cue (senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple) was pushing for a 7” iPad in 2011. Reportedly, Steve Jobs was very much against the 7” form factor, asserting that the 9.7” display on the original iPad was the absolute ideal size for a tablet. Eventually, Apple caved to the demands of the market, and perhaps demands from within its own mothership, as it revealed the iPad mini. In typical Apple fashion, the original mini was priced higher than other 7” slates in the market, with the company all but conceding the sub-$300 tablet market, while plenty of others fought it out at the bottom end of the price scale.

A year later, the next iteration of the iPad mini has been unwrapped, but it’s not your average revamp. Apple claimed that the first iPad mini was “every inch an iPad,” but many argued that the lackluster specifications, omission of a Retina display, and the lofty price tag left a lot to be desired. The iPad mini with Retina display, however, makes good on that claim in many ways. Apple could have easily shoved an aging A6 processor into the new mini, but instead, the specifications closely rival those found in the full-sized iPad Air (our review here).

In fact, let’s take a look at what exactly you’ll find under the hood:

Apple iPad mini with Retina display (second generation) Specifications
Specifications & Features
  • Apple iOS 7
  • 1.3-1.4GHz dual-core A7 processor (64-bit); M7 motion coprocessor
  • PowerVR G6430 quad-core graphics
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB storage
  • Optional 4G LTE radio
  • Dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi; MIMO
  • Front FaceTime (VGA) and rear (5MP) iSight cameras
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 7.9-Inch 2048x1536 Retina display (IPS)
  • Capacitive Multi-Touch
  • Non-replaceable 23.8W-hour Lithium-Polymer battery
  • Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi-, watching video, or listening to music; Up to 9 hours using cellular data network
  • Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system
  • 3.5mm audio jack; dual microphones
  • Three-axis gyro; accelerometer; ambient light sensor
  • Digital Compass
  • Access to Apple App Store

  • 7.87 (H) x 5.3 (W) x 0.29 (D) inches
  • 0.73 pounds (Wi-Fi); 0.75 pounds (Wi-Fi + 4G LTE)
  • MSRP $399 - 16GB WiFi

That’s a blockbuster array of internals for a 7” slate, but of course, it comes at a price. The iPad mini with Retina display actually went up compared to the base MSRP of the initial mini (from $329 on the original to $399 for the Retina-equipped newcomer). That’s a significant price premium in a tablet sector that’s racing quickly to the bottom in terms of price; and we’ve already seen a number of very impressive 7” Android slates hit the market this year for far less. Is the ability to tap into the thriving iOS ecosystem, coupled with a 64-bit processor and a pixel-packed display, enough to justify the price tag? Find out in the pages ahead.

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MikeCammisa one year ago

Good review, just to expensive for what you get though

realneil one year ago

"the new iPad mini isn’t priced to compete. It’s priced into a category of its own"

A high priced place where Apple seems to be most comfortable.

Dave_HH one year ago

Can't say I disagree with that but you do get a higher-end device for the dollars.

realneil one year ago

[quote user="Dave_HH"]Can't say I disagree with that but you do get a higher-end device for the dollars.[/quote]

iDevices are elegant and highly functional too. But many of us are forced into buying less expensive devices because of that high price.

It's lucky that other devices are getting to be so darn good.

My iPad second gen is still functioning after being dropped onto some bricks and now has a cracked screen. It still works, but it's cheaper to buy another brand than it is to fix the iPad. Crying


SmogHog one year ago


Here's how the screen stacks up

dc7 one year ago

I don't understand why they can't put a GPS and micro SD slot in these things. I was hoping for a GPS in the 5th Gen Touch, seriously looking at the EVGA Tegra Note.

anotherscott one year ago

re: "I don't understand why they can't put a GPS and micro SD slot in these things"

Choose a cellular model ($130 additional) and you get the GPS. If you connect with t-mobile, you also get 200 megabytes of data a month at no charge... and it is good to have data availability if you want GPS, because many GPS programs use real-time internet connectivity for things like traffic rerouting and POI location.

anotherscott one year ago

My quibble with the review is that it keeps talking about the Mini as a 7" tablet, comparing it to Google Nexus, etc. It is a 7.9" tablet, which is essentially 8". It does not functionally compete with 7" Androids, it competes with the more expensive 8" Androids. It has almost 40% more display area than a 7" Android tablet, it's an enormous difference. I use Android as well. I find their 7" models too small. But unlike the 7" models, I find the iPad Mini and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 both comfortable to use. Anything smaller, I'd just use it in a more limited fashion and stick with a phone or iPod Touch at that point.

Dave_HH one year ago

We've corrected this review and downgraded the rating to HotHardware "Approved" due to cost and limitations in RAM and expansion.

choetechusa 11 months ago

I bought my retina Mini and am happy with it. I don’t use it while comparing my screen constantly to the various metrics published on the web. I ran the image retention text on a Marco Arment's web page, and didn’t see anything on my device that concerned me. The retina screen is nicer that I expected it to be, and I am happy with how I spent my money. 

AlfredDaher 8 months ago

i love my ipad mini with retina display. it isn't huge and heavy like full sized ipads and its price isn't outrageously expensive. overall i am extremely happy with this tablet

StaticFX 8 months ago

I hate mine.....


ok i dont have one lol - I got a Nook HD+ because it was far cheaper and really, i wanted to read on it :) - netflix (many google + apps work on it) so that was a bonus

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