Monday, 4 March 2013

Apple iPad Mini Review

iPad Mini is Apple's latest entry into the 7 inch tablet line (7.9 inches to be precise). It will
be competing against the prominent tablets of the 7 inch category like Google's Nexus 7,
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7 inch, Kindle Fire HD 7.


So, lets see how the iPad Mini features stacks up against its competitors.

Specs

Display: 7.9 inches, 11 point capacitive touch
Resolution: 1024x768 (Same as the iPad 2)
Pixel Density: 163 ppi (Same as the iPhone 3GS)
Dimensions: 7.8x5.3x0.28 inches
Processor: Dual core Apple A5 (Same as the iPad2)
Storage: Available in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB variants, No card slot
Platform: iOS 6
Battery: 10 hours ( Same as current and previous generation iPads)
Camera: 5MP(rear), 1.2MP(front)
Networking: Dual Band WiFi, LTE(available as separate variant)
So the specs of the new iPad Mini looks identical to iPad 2. Since the resolution is the
same as the iPad 2, all the iPad 2 apps should work fine on the iPad Mini as well. This has
an added advantage when it comes to app compatibility.

Design

Apple is famous for its minimalistic approach to design and unmatchable
quality and the iPad mini is no exception. While most of the other tablet vendors use
materials like cheap plastics, Apple uses 4000 series anodized aluminum
which is a premium class aluminum that is also used in the iPhone 5. The result is a very
solid, smooth and luxurious feel. The downside to this was that it attracted finger smudges
at the back. For the edges, a technique named "mono crystalline diamond cut" was used
so that the edges look polished, clean and  almost have a mirror finish. Another major
aspect of the the iPad mini’s design was the smaller bezels on its sides. This helped in
achieving more screen space without increasing its overall size. Finally to top it all off, the
iPad mini is just 7.2 mm thin (yeah, as thin as a pencil) and weighs just 300 grams. We
noticed how light it was, that after using the it for a while, we actually felt uncomfortable
going back to holding the full sized iPad for extended periods of time. However, when it
comes to one handed use, the iPad mini is not so ideal due to the wider dimensions that
takes up pretty much of your whole hand. Similarly, its also difficult to fit it into your normal
sized pockets.

Pros: Smaller bezels, Aluminum enclosure, Thinner, Lighter.
Cons: Not so perfect for single handed use, fitting it into your pockets is difficult, the back
attracts finger smudges.

Display
 
For the iPad Mini, Apple uses a 7.9 inch IPS LCD display which is packed
with 163 ppi. IPS techonolgy means that you have a viewing angle of
almost 180 degrees. The resolution of the iPad mini is exactly same as the
iPad 2 which, sadly is not enough.A step backward, the mediocre display
comes at a time when Apple is turning to its famed retina display for nearly
all of its popular products including its Macbook pro line. Looking at its
competitors though, the iPad mini's display provides richer colour
saturation and contrast if not for its inferior 163 ppi. So, when it comes to
display, iPad mini is not so great but satisfying. But because of the extra
0.9 inch display than its competitors, webpages and pdf documents fit in
perfectly whereas it looks stretched in 7 inch tablets like the Nexus 7.

Pros: Better colour contrast and saturation, Webpages fits perfectly
Cons: Poor Resolution, Poor pixel density

Camera
iPad mini boasts a 5MP camera in the rear and 1.2 MP camera in the
front. The rear camera used is exactly same as the 3rd Gen iPad. The
camera performance is very good in clear lighting conditions. But, not so
good in low light conditions. Images captured in low light  seem
to have much noise since it got no flash. The front camera of the iPad mini
is stunning as it is perfect for video chats. Faces look clear in good lighting. The rear camera is also capable of recording video with 1080p resolution at30fps with Image Stabilisation.The front camera is capable of recording 720p video at 30fps. When it comes to comparison, Both front and rear cameras of the iPad mini isbetter than other tablets.


Pros: Great image quality, Great video quality, Image Stabilisation, 1080p Video recording
Cons: Noisy image in low light conditions, Lack of Flash

Performance

iPad mini boasts a Dual core, Apple's custom A5 chip which is clocked at 1GHz. In paper,
the clock speed is slightly less than its competitors but when it comes to real life use, iPad
mini performs much better than its competitors. Specifically in gaming, web browsing etc. Games like the NFS MostWanted, FIFA 13, Sky Gamblers:Air supremacy,Infinity Blade 2, Modern Combat 3 etc runs smoothly on the iPad mini. The graphics wasstunning, almost identical to computer graphics. And there was no freezing while I used theiPad mini, like I had some problems with Nexus 7 while exiting and opening apps and browsing the web. Web browsing  on the iPad mini is buttery smooth.Pages load quicker and smoother to navigate around. While in the Nexus 7 I had a really painful experience. Even Nexus 7 has a butter project running to keep it smooth, still their butter is freezing.Multitasking and switching between apps on the iPad mini was also smooth.

Pros: Great performance
Cons: Nil

Platform, Apps, and User Interface
 
iPad mini is pre installed with Apple's latest mobile operating system the iOS 6. Unlike
other tablet manufacturers, Apple has makes hardware that run on its
own software. So, they can design software to run specifically on their
device.The Software and Hardware integration is much better than
the competitors and  is evident from every corner of the device. For
example, the side bezels of the iPad mini is lot thinner than the other
tablets. So, when we hold it in portrait mode, a part of our palm actually
rests on top of the touch screen. But, the input from our palm is actually
ignored and we can navigate on the touch screen smoothly without any
problem. But, in Android tablets, if we accidentally place our hands on top of the touch
screen, we can't navigate the screen without taking our hands off. This is where Apple
shows off their attention to detail. They must have thought about every nook and corner of
the device. The user interface of the iPad mini is made so simple to use but it feels like
iOS is aged a lot. Its time for Apple to rethink about the UI of iOS and we do expect a
major change in the UI design of iOS 7. Siri is one of the major feature of iOS. Siri is a
voice enabled personal assistance which can be used for a lot of purpose like, setting
alarm, scheduling calendar entry, mapping, text messaging, status posting, etc. Google is now better in recognising words but can only be used for searching purpose since it cannot perform any system
functions. Another main feature of iOS 6 is Apple's own mapping solution which is heavily
criticised. And the story is no exception. iCloud is another great feature of
iOS which allows a user to manage all his Apple devices in a Sync. When I update a contact or take a picture or download an app its is automatically updated across all my Apple devices. Another major thing about any platform is the availability of Apps.Apple is much ahead of any other platform in this regard. iPad has over 2,75,000 apps that are specifically written for it. This is something that every one who is planning to buy a tablet should consider. Android and all other platforms are miles away from Apple in the field of Apps available for tablets. Apps like twitter looks a lot different. Twitter on Android tablet is like a stretched out mobile applications whereas in iPad Twitter takes advantage of each and every pixels.And there are tons of other apps like this. Apps are a curse for Android tablets. And Apple
clearly wins in this area. Without apps, tablets is just a big slate. And moreover there are
specific functionality of the platform which enables developers to create apps easily. For
example low latency audio technology. This is a technology that helps musicians to take
advantage of their devices. Music apps like Garage band, FL Studio Mobile HD,
iSequence HD, Tabletop, DJ rig, podDJ, Amplitube, Ampkit+, etc etc rely just on this
technology. Because of this, musicians can plug in their instruments to iPad and start
recording on the go. This is where musicians really hate to have an Android tablet. And
you cannot find any of the apps I stated above in the Play store. There are different other
areas also where Android sucks which I am not stating here. Also the quality of the Apps
on iOS is much better than Android Apps. This is because, developers have to create apps
only for iOS devices whereas in Android they need to be curious about the hardwares that
are going to use their Apps and they need to make it compatible for each and every
hardware. For iOS there are plenty of apps available for almost every purpose like
Education, Business, Entertainment, Art etc which is a really good thing for users. 
The lack of file sharing across other platforms is also con for iOS 6.

Pros: Largest app collection, Better performance, Good quality of Apps
Cons: Slightly outdated UI, File sharing, Inbuilt map

Battery Life and Connectivity

As Apple claims iPad mini should last 10 hours of battery life. In our testing we found that
this is nearly true. iPad mini last more than 10 hours for surfing the web
in wifi connectivity. But, we got less than 10 hours while we were using
graphics intensive apps like the NFS Most Wanted.
iPad mini uses Apple's proprietary Lightning connector for connecting to
the computer. This deviation from Apple's normal 30 pin connector. So,
if we lose the cable, we will need to buy a new cable and we cannot use our already purchased accessories which use 30 pin connector without an adapter. Lightning connector is much faster
than Micro USB and slightly faster than 30 pin connector. Also, lightning connector is
reversible. So, we can connect it in without checking the alignment.
iPad mini with cellular is capable to connecting to 4G LTE, 3G and 2G for internet use. 
Dual band WiFi connectivity is also much faster than the normal WiFi connectivity.
iPad mini also have Bluetooth 4.0 built in which can be used for connecting bluetooth
headphones and HiFi systems but is not capable of file sharing.

In the Box

iPad mini WiFi or WiFi+Cellular
Lightning to USB Cable
USB Power Adapter

Pros: Nothing to state
Cons: Lack of headphones

Verdict iPad mini is a great tablet than its competitors. It got great performance, Battery life,
Comfortable to use, Great app collection, Good built quality etc. So, it is a good tablet that
every one who is planning to buy a 7 inch tablet should consider.
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