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My Thoughts on The iPad Mini

As an Android user, my blog post of what I think of the iPhone 5 was a bit harsh. I still think there are things that Apple could and should have improved with the current iPhone, but I tried it out in an Apple Store and it has far superior external hardware compared to most, if not all Android devices. With that thought, I’m going to write about the iPad Mini with an open mind.

The iPad Mini is basically a smaller version of the iPad. It is Apple’s answer to a lot of Android tabets, including Asus and Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire line. I think this is a smart move from Apple, as I tried a Nexus 7 in a phone shop, and I think it is the perfect size. The keyboard is really nice to type on. Besides, the Nexus 7 can fit in most pockets, making it really portable.

The iPad Mini has a 7.9-inch display and very similar hardware to the iPad 2. It has the same Apple A5 CPU and 512MB RAM. However, there are a few upgrades. The iPad Mini supports Wi-Fi at the 5GHz frequency, and the cellular iPad has 4G LTE. Both cameras are also upgraded, compared to what we had in the iPad 2.

The iPad Mini also has official support for Siri, which according to Apple, can’t be done on the iPad 2 because of slower wireless hardware. It is a shame to see the decision Apple made, but Google Now Voice Search can be used in the official Google Search app, on iOS 4.3 and above, and it is an excellent alternative to Siri.

One thing I am in question of about the iPad Mini is the screen size. I have a first generation iPad and even on that, some of the buttons in third party apps are to small for me to hit spot on every time. The iPad Mini doesn’t have separate apps for the smaller display, which means buttons are now only smaller. I might be wrong, but Steve Jobs thought the same about 7-inch tablets.

With the new screen size, the iPad Mini is nearly perfect to type on. The split keyboard has been changed to match the iPad Mini screen size, but if anything, the split keyboard makes for a worse typing experience. I tried typing on the iPad Mini in portrait mode and in some ways, it is better than the Nexus 7. However, it is still the iOS keyboard, which is heavily lacking in features. I don’t know why, but Apple still haven’t added proper auto correction to the keyboard. I also think Apple need to add a Swype-like feature, which has been on many Android touch keyboards for years.

As for pricing, I think Apple could have given the iPad Mini a better price tag. The base model iPad Mini costs £269 in the UK and has 16GB of internal storage. I understand that the iPad Mini has better external hardware than most Android tablets. However, in the Keynote, Apple were comparing the iPad Mini to the Nexus 7, which has a base model priced at £159 with the same amount of storage. Google are also selling a 32GB Nexus 7 with HSPA+ for £239. And if Apple aren’t going to sell the iPad Mini at these lower prices, I think the Nexus 7 comparison was a mistake.

Despite the lower prices of competing 7-inch tablets, I think the iPad Mini will be a very successful product. It runs software that most people are already familiar with, and that many people have already used. It is also being sold by Apple, a trusted brand worldwide. Besides that, the iPad has already been on the market for several years. There are loads of apps that were designed to run on the larger screen on the iPad, while Android tablets still mostly run stretched out mobile apps. I think this is where the iPad will have the edge in the market, possibly for quite a few years.

Posted on Thursday 22nd November 2012 - Leave a comment