As a massive iPad fan, I was particularly looking forward to seeing what the iPad 5 would look like. While I love my iPad 2, it’s starting to show its age and the once fantastic screen now frankly looks mediocre. iOS 7 has exacerbated the problem, being designed for a fully retina world with its light fonts and minimalist aesthetic.
I’m not really a fan of the Mini. As a reading device its size is a boon, but I actually do a lot of typing on my iPad and find that the full size screen lets me touch type with near perfect accuracy. It’s not as good a physical keyboard, but it’s good enough that I haven’t needed to use a laptop for the past two years when writing emails or notes.
Still, I take my iPad virtually everywhere and this was making the Mini much more tempting. While I haven’t tried out the Air yet, it looks like I may very well be sticking to a full size iPad. It’s dramatically thinner, lighter and smaller. It’s incredible that Apple have managed to slim down the bezels, reduce the weight and thickness and yet massively increase power and maintain the amazing battery life. It’s a complete win in every way.
Android tablets like the Nexus 10 may have even higher res screens and cost less, but sometimes you really do get what you pay for. When it comes to full size tablets, there’s only one game in town. And it just leapt even further ahead.
Retina iPad Mini
Size aside, I was never a fan of the original Mini because of its iPad 2 based hardware. My iPad 2 may have served me like a champ, but it’s definitely getting on. I have no problem with Apple’s higher pricing, but when I pay a premium I want to get the best and I want something that will last a while.
With the Retina iPad Mini I feel like I’m definitely getting both. I thought we’d be getting an A6X, but Apple went all out and gave it an A7 to make it spec for spec identical to the Air. And for a full $100 less. The only problem now is choosing how much that extra 1.8” is worth to you, either in price or portability.
I still feel like smaller tablets are more for content consumption though. While the Mini will give you all the same great iPad apps, I’m not sure if I’d enjoy using it as much for things like typing and photo editing that I do regularly on my iPad 2. For others it may very well be the perfect tablet, and for $100 less I may be one of them.
The fact that the iPad 2 is still on sale must presumably means that it’s still doing decent business for Apple. I can’t remember having another gadget for as long as my iPad 2. It’s done me proud over the last two and a half years. In the same time, I’ve been through four different phones.
But I’d feel sorry for anyone that buys one today for $399. The fact that Apple can still sell it for $399 makes feel both annoyed and amazed. I feel like the Air is incredible value at $499. But you’d have to really value that $100 saving to go for the cheaper model. Even then, you could have a far superior Retina iPad Mini for the same price. Please just don’t do it.
I feel similarly about the original iPad Mini. I was never a big fan in the first place, but a year later and for a whole $30 less I still couldn’t recommend it to anyone. I’d rather have the a Nexus 7 with its far superior screen and $80 saving. It might not have all the apps, but phone apps work pretty great on it. And at that size it’s more about reading and video, for which the widescreen actually has an advantage.
Two frankly awesome and great value high end models. Two ageing and overpriced low end models. Do yourself a favour and spend the extra cash for the flagships.