Three months with the iPad Mini: A long-term test on the biggest small tablet around

 

One of the best reviews of the original iPad was written after six months of using it, to explain how much it had changed their computing habits. So the question after using the iPad Mini for an extended period is: is it worth buying over the iPad, or even swapping for it?

Specifications

Processor: Apple's A5 processor (same as iPad2; iPhone 4S)
Storage: 16gb (£269)/32gb(£349)/ 64gb (£429)
20x13cm; 7.2mm thin
What else
1024 x 768 display (same as second-gen iPad); 16.3 watt battery with a 10-hour life, HD 1080p video recording, 5mp camera

 

Does it work?

Apart from the Maps debacle, Apple rarely produces a dud and the five-star reviews the Mini earned on its release weren't for nothing. I rarely had a problem.

Pros: Just about fits in your pocket, meaning it can rival the Kindle for a few chapters on the bus or train. I found on the one day I did it, I may as well have been wearing a sign saying "PICKPOCKET ME". It's much more comfortable to hold to read or browse in bed or on the sofa, though. If you have an older iPad you can sync apps across both devices. Smaller size makes it better as a camera than the iPad, but if you use an iPad as a camera (especially at a gig) please think again.

Cons: Like the iPhone 5 and the new iPad, the Mini comes with a lightning adaptor, which means taking two plugs everywhere with you if, like me, you have an older iPhone or iPad. You can buy conversion cables for most old accessories but it's still an expensive pain.

There's also still no Google Maps app for the iPad.

Who's it for?

Research from childrens' app Kindertown suggested its huge boost in post-Christmas users was attributable to the Mini being bought as a children's iPad and it's certainly child-friendly, size-wise. For those wanting to game on the move, it's not too shabby, either. I loaded up the re-released GTA: Vice City on both iPads (and was able to play the same saved game over both – and my iPhone, using the cloud save feature) and though it was smoother on the iPad with its next generation A6X processor, it wasn't at all shabby on the Mini, despite the smaller screen.

I'm not convinced that the Mini works for working either: typing long documents is out of the question without the £57 wireless keyboard. Though I did find emails easier to type than on a larger tablet.

Is it worth the money?

Hard to say. Despite the Mini being less bulky, I still automatically reach for the old iPad due to its almost laptop-sized screen. And the most expensive Mini is actually £30 more expensive than the cheapest new full-size iPad. But if you want something that will pop in your bag for reading and then browsing at home, it's a winner. As much as I liked the Mini, though, I found browsing, gaming and tweeting easier on the bigger iPad.

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