iPad mini Review Roundup: ‘Did You Love an Earlier Version of iPad mini? Sold’

In the world of small, portable tablets, the all-new iPad mini stands above the competition.

iPad mini

The iPad mini got its first refresh in more than three years this week. The newest, fifth-generation model ships with Apple’s latest A12 Bionic processor, more RAM, and a True Tone display with more pixels than any other iPad.

But is the new iPad mini worth your hard-earned cash? Here’s what the early reviews have to say about it.

Here’s what Wired‘s Lauren Goode had to say about the tiny tablet:

Apple’s new iPad Mini is an eight-inch bundle of contradictions. It’s new! But also, it’s not new. It works with Pencil! But it’s only compatible with the older Pencil. It has a high-resolution display! It also has thick bezels, ones reminiscent of an iPad from another era. It’s the fifth iPad Mini, and it feels like a product borne from an operations meeting about ways in which to use up existing components […]

Here’s the thing about iPad Mini, though: Most of this won’t matter. The iPad Mini is about emotion. It’s not the most popular iPad that Apple makes—that title goes to the 9.7-inch model—but the people who are gonna buy it are gonna buy it.

Did you love an earlier version of iPad Mini? Sold.

TechCrunch‘s Matthew Panzarino thinks that the new iPad mini has much more applications beyond consumer use:

The iPad mini is also extremely popular in industrial, commercial and medical applications. From charts and patient records to point-of-sale and job site reference, the mini is the perfect size for these kinds of customers. These uses were a major factor in Apple deciding to update the mini […]

The performance[…]is exactly the same[…]as the iPad Air[…] This makes the mini a hugely powerful tiny tablet, clearly obliterating anything else in its size class. The screen is super solid, with great color, nearly no air gap and only lacking tap-to-wake[…]

I’m falling in real strong like all over again with the mini, and the addition of Pencil support is the sweetener on top[…]

This really is one of the most obvious choices Apple has in its current iPad lineup. If you want the cheap one, get the cheap one (excuse me, “most affordable” one). And if you want the small one, get the iPad mini.

While the device is certainly updated, Fast Company‘s Harry McCracken feels that the new iPad mini is not a complete reimagining of the tablet:

More than three years after Apple last upgraded its smallest tablet, it’s given us a new version that looks just like the old one, with the same 7.9-inch screen size and starting price of $399 […]

Though the screen size and resolution remain the same, the display is now 25% brighter, offers a wider color gamut for more vividly realistic images, and features Apple’s True Tone technology […]

As for processing power, the Mini now runs Apple’s A12 Bionic chip, like the current iPhones. That gives the tablet potent graphics and Apple’s neural engine, a coprocessor tuned for on-device AI […] Bottom line: The Mini now runs all iPad apps well, as an iPad should. Just as important, it should be well equipped to handle future apps–even if you hold onto a new Mini for a few years, as people tend to do […]

Still, I hope that elements from the iPad Pro line filter down to the iPad Mini–along with the iPad Air, and the $329 iPad–in models to come. At some point, aspects of the new Mini that are now pleasantly familiar will feel stale. And as nice as it is to see this tablet reassert itself, it would be a shame if the new version turned out to be a blip rather than a new beginning.

While the smaller device is certainly worth checking out, CNBC‘s Todd Haselton feels that Apple offers better alternatives:

The design is showing its age a little bit. Apple didn’t include Face ID and there are still bezels around the screen, for example, so it looks pretty much exactly like the iPad Mini that launched in 2015 [but] the new iPad Mini dramatically improves the components that matter most: the screen and the processor.

The iPad Mini is for people who want a smaller iPad with all of the power of the new iPad Air. I think there are a lot of those people and, even if you don’t think you want a smaller iPad, it’s worth checking out.

That said, if you’re bargain hunting and just want any iPad, consider the regular 9.7-inch model. It’s a year old and not as powerful, but only costs $329. If you want a bigger screen than what the iPad Mini offers but still want the new A12 chip, consider the new iPad Air which is only $100 more.

The new iPad mini combines power with portability, but Engadget‘s Chris Velazco feels that it isn’t right for most people, falling short compared to other alternatives:

I’m glad the iPad mini still exists, and it packs some crucial updates that make it worth using in 2019. I’m just not convinced it’s the right tablet for most people […]

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that Apple didn’t see fit to revise the mini’s design after a more than three-year hiatus. It just looks a little dated. That’s not to say there aren’t any noticeable changes here, though […]

There’s more than enough power here for most people, and if portability is your biggest concern, there’s no denying the mini is more convenient to lug around [but] Apple’s no-frills, 10-inch iPad costs $70 less than the mini, and the arguably superior new iPad Air costs only $100 more than the mini. If I’m the kind of person who hasn’t upgraded my tablet in a while, or if I’m new to iPads in general, either of those options seem like more sensible choices.

For The Verge‘s Nilay Patel, it comes down to one question: Are you specifically looking for a small tablet?

The decision to get an iPad mini is simple: do you want a small, capable tablet? If you do, the mini is obviously worth $399, especially when you consider how long Apple has supported iPads for in the past. There’s just nothing else like it.

[But] you’re still looking at the exact same external design, which is now nearly seven years old. If you secretly replaced any previous iPad mini with the new one, there’s a chance you might not even notice the difference. All the changes to this new mini are on the inside […]

Good stuff: All the same specs as the larger iPad Air in a smaller size. Solid performance. Headphone jack.

Bad stuff: Seven-year-old exterior design with huge bezels. First-gen Apple Pencil. Lightning port instead of USB-C.

Overall, the initial reviews make it quite clear that the updated iPad mini is for customers who specifically want a small and portable tablet that they can carry anywhere. What are your thoughts on the iPad mini 5?

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