Analysis

Honey I shrunk the iPad! How the iPad Mini shapes up.

You probably noticed that Apple launched the iPad Mini last week.  If you’re an Apple fan, you probably want one just because it exists. But where does this device fit into the whole multi-screen scheme of things?

Firstly, why did Apple launch a small version of the existing iPad?  It’s broadly accepted that the iPad Mini is designed to compete with a range of smaller (approximately 7 inch) tablets that snuck in via the eReader market and quietly became mini-web browsers with a market of their own.  Apple also have a habit of launching ‘mini’ things and seeing great success with them, so I guess why wouldn’t you?

So What is the iPad Mini all About?   

In a nutshell, it’s a small version of the standard iPad, coming it at just under 8 inches tall, about 2/3 the size.  It’s more of a small iPad than a large iPhone, but it does have the bonus of allowing access to both iPad and iPhone apps (although some apps designed for the standard iPad apparently feel quite cramped).

I think most of the media fuss has been about how well Apple has shrunk the iPad’s size & weight while retaining most of the iPad experience in a much smaller device.  The iPad Mini is about 60% the size of the latest iPad with a screen area of about 66%.  However it’s also thinner that the iPhone 5 and weighs less than half as much as the standard iPad.  So as many commentators are saying, you get 2/3 of an iPad for about 1/2 the size & weight.

There seems to be little argument that the iPad Mini is a well designed and beautiful looking device.  The only real negative I’ve heard is the reduced (only 53%) pixel density compared to the latest Retina version of the iPad.

Some tech things:

  • It is 7.9 inches tall and 5.3 inches wide
  • It features Apple’s new Lightning dock as on the iPhone 5 (not the old 30-pin dock)
  • It has 5-megapixel rear and 1.2MP front-facing camera that play HD video
  • Cellular versions will use the Nano SIM card found on the iPhone 5.

In Australia it will cost $369 for the basic WiFi model ($509 for the most basic WiFi plus cellular model) whereas the Google Nexus 7 (a similarly sized tablet launched earlier this year) starts at $249.  The other device that is regularly referenced in the news as Apple’s major competitor for the iPad Mini is the Kindle Fire HD which isn’t currently available here in Australia.  The iPad Mini will connect to Australia’s fourth-generation LTE networks operated by Telstra and Optus, although cellular versions are yet to go on sale – scheduled for late November.

What Does Everyone Think?

The Australian published a very positive overview of its potential, although they pulled out the following intriguing quote from Steve Jobs back in 2010.   “Seven-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad,” Jobs said. “These are among the reasons that the current crop of seven-inch tablets are going to be DOA – dead on arrival.”  I guess this baby is very different to the crop we were seeing a few years ago!

Brian Barrett from Gizmodo has written a highly entertaining review after spending A Week With The iPad Mini, and you can also check out the comprehensive coverage on MacWorld and Mashable.

The jury is still out on where the demand is for a device like the iPad Mini.  Check out the video at the top of MacWorld’s review for one angle (it’s chocolate and vanilla) or read Fredric Paul’s article where he asks How Many Screens Does One Man Need?

One thing is clear though, there will be sales.  Although Apple isn’t telling yet, according to one analyst, between 2 and 2.5 million iPad Minis were sold in the first weekend they went on sale.  Whatever your opinion, don’t write this baby off yet!

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One Comment

  1. The jury may still be out on this new screen, but i think it’s the usual story those that have it love it and those that don’t, sit on the side line wondering why we all need more devices. The reality is that a little more choice from the Apple side of the fence is not a bad thing for users.