On November 2nd, when the iPad Mini was launched worldwide, I was, together with Robert, one of the first people in Romania to own one. The nice guys at the store hadn’t even unpacked them, so Robert kindly unboxed his in front of them. Me, I unboxed it at home together with my wife.
I’ve owned an iPad 1 since April 2010, which I later sold in february 2012 in order to get an iPad 2. One month later, the iPad 3 came along and I got it as well. I now have the last 3 generations of iPads: iPad 2, iPad 3(retina) and the iPad Mini. I also own a Blackberry Playbook which I gifted to my father and a Kindle 4th gen. All this bragging so you understand that I’m not a tablet noob :)
The iPad mini is the best looking of the bunch, the lightest and cutest. People tell you it’s light but you really can’t imagine just how light it is until you hold it: 308 grams, almost double the small Kindle or the iPhone 4S – but, because it’s so slim and has a larger surface, it feels considerably lighter. Mine is the white model, which makes it feel even more weightless.
The form factor is great. I loved the comfort of holding the Playbook in one hand, and the Mini takes this to the next level. First of all, because Mini feels, as I said, weightless. Then, because Mini feels like almost entirely screen – the slim slide bezels make it more immersive – it doesn’t feel like holding a Tablet, the way I did with the Playbook, but rather like a Kindle – you get immersed in the content, instead of feeling the object around it.
The screen is (according to what people write online) exactly the same as in the iPhone 3GS. It looks different than the one in the iPad 1 or iPad 2, it’s brighter, and compared to the retina screen it feels a bit blurry for a second when your eyes try to adapt to reading small text on a white background. Still, it’s just for a second and only for this use case. When moving around the homepage, going inside apps, playing games or watching movies, you get used to it quickly and no longer notice anything different – everything feels extremely natural.
Speed-wise I couldn’t tell any difference from iPad 2 or 3 – since they share similar specs.
Just as with my first iPad, it was hard at first to justify it. After all, I did have a computer for serious stuff and an iPhone for games on the go. But, slowly, the iPad got its place in my life and family, and we ended up fighting over who has it when browsing, playing, reading recipes in the kitchen or looking something up online before going to sleep. Two iPads solved this conflict but introduced others: compared to the iPad 3, the iPad 2 had a longer-lasting battery, was thinner and lighter and more comfortable to hold, and charged faster. On the other hand, the iPad 3 was incredible for reading anything, but as downsides it was heavier, thicker and also got hot when playing resource-hungry games.
In my Singapore+Bali+Gili trip I had taken the iPad 2 with me – its being lighter and faster to charge made it better suited for traveling. It was a good decision, and after a bit I no longer missed my gorgeous retina iPad at home. Now, if I were to go on a similar adventure anytime soon, my choice would be iPad Mini all the way. Its smaller size and lightness make it the perfect traveling companion. It’s easier to pack and store safely (no need for big protection covers while in the backpack, just store it inside the travel guide book); it’s also faster to charge than the iPad retina, and the battery seems to last at least as long. It’s also easier to hold, while just walking around. Plus, it can be stored in the inner pocket of most jackets and even in the back pocket of some jeans (not the best idea when you’re traveling, but it helps when you need your hands free).
When at home, I find myself waiting for my wife to be busy so I can watch movies on the Mini (streamed from my laptop using AirVideo ). I carry it with me around the house, so I don’t need to pause my movie when going to the kitchen for coffee or drinking it on the balcony.
Like I wrote above, it’s kind of hard to explain why you should get one. The difference between the Mini and the regular size iPad is similar to the one between the iPad and the laptop – they do similar things, but because one of them is lighter and smaller, it’s just quicker to grab and carry it around, instead of the bigger/heavier alternative.
… will probably never come. Or it might come, but I don’t think it will be any time soon. Yes, there are rumors that a retina Mini is on the way, spread probably by Apple’s competitors, but I don’t believe them. Here is why:
Now, I think I might have babbled a bit too much. So the short version of it would be:
I don’t think there will be a retina iPad Mini for at least another year. Most probably it will appear in 2 years from now; next year’s model will probably just improve the processor.
I think that it’s totally worth to buy the iPad Mini right now – even if, by miracle, a retina one will appear by next Christmas, the current iPad Mini will have found lots of great uses in your home – and you might not want to part with it, just as I find mine. And its resale value will be still good.