Apple iPad mini with Retina display
The iPad mini with Retina display is a fantastic and hugely enticing tablet
- Excellent battery life
- Retina screen a big upgrade
- Fast, snappy performance
- More expensive than predecessor
- Screen can't match iPad Air
While its screen can't reproduce colours with the same punch as Apple's larger iPad Air, the high resolution display and excellent performance make the iPad mini with Retina display a hugely enticing option for any tablet buyer.
Price$ 479.00 (AUD)
In our review of Apple's original iPad mini last year, we remarked that its exceptional iOS app catalogue, outstanding build quality and super light weight were only let down by a mediocre screen. Fast forward almost 12 months later, and Apple has delivered what everybody was waiting for: a retina display. While the screen can't reproduce colours with the same punch as Apple's larger iPad Air, the high resolution display and excellent performance make the second generation iPad mini a hugely enticing option for any tablet buyer.
Familiar design, superb construction
The meticulous attention to detail doesn't go unnoticed.
Apple has kept an almost identical design to the original iPad mini. The iPad mini with Retina display uses the same bevelled, laser cut edges, the same smooth, rounded corners, and the same well positioned volume buttons. Like its predecessor, the meticulous attention to detail doesn't go unnoticed. There's no other small tablet on the market that comes close to this kind of excellent craftsmanship.
The iPad mini with with Retina display is actually slightly thicker and heavier than the original mini. It measures 7.5mm thick compared to 7.2mm, and the Wi-Fi only version weighs 331g compared to the previous model's 308g. The Wi-Fi+LTE model we reviewed tips the scales at 341g compared to 312g. The figures don't make too much of a difference in day-to-day use. This is still a superbly constructed tablet that is thin and light, and you'd be hard pressed telling the difference even if you're holding both models side-by-side.
The only other change is the available colours. Last year's "black & slate" model has been replaced by "space grey", a slightly lighter take on what is a dark colour. The other option is the traditional silver model, which features the same white front.
One significant disappointment is the lack of a Touch ID-equipped home button.
The rest of the iPad mini with Retina display is virtually identical to the original mini. Separated volume up and down buttons are located on the left side, just below a mute switch, a well positioned power button is on the top, next to the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and the Lightning connector is flanked by dual-speaker grills on the bottom. The speakers pump out reasonable sound for a small tablet but it's too easy to muffle them with your hand when you're holding the mini in landscape orientation.
One significant disappointment is the lack of a Touch ID-equipped home button, which was first introduced on the iPhone 5s. The iPad mini with Retina display includes Apple's regular home button instead. While a fingerprint sensor would be more often utilised on a smartphone, we feel it would certainly be useful on any iPad, especially as it negates the need to continuously enter your Apple ID password.
It's all about retina
The display can't quite match the iPad Air.
The iPad mini's retina display is obviously the star of the show, hence the name. The screen has a resolution of 2048x1536, the same as the larger iPad Air. It's a huge upgrade from the original iPad mini's 1024x768 resolution, and gives the new tablet a pixel density of 326ppi.
The significant boost in resolution is immediately noticeable, especially if you're upgrading directly from the original mini. The biggest advantage is crisp and clear text, which makes the iPad mini with Retina display a superb reading device. The screen is also bright, clear and possesses reasonably good sunlight legibility. We long for a screen coating that's less reflective, but the iPad mini with Retina is no worse than most other tablets on the market in this area.
The iPad mini's screen isn't perfect, however. When viewed directly alongside the iPad Air, the mini produces colours that are less vivid. This is particularly evident when viewing the colours of Apple's bright, default wallpapers — with both screens set to full brightness, the iPad Air is able to display brighter reds, pinks and greens. Most everyday users won't be able to notice the difference unless they're comparing the two side-by-side, but users who simply demand the absolute best screen technology should be aware that the new iPad mini's display can't quite match the iPad Air.
A smaller iPad, not a slower one
The iPad mini with Retina display comes with the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 7. New features include a completely revamped user interface, AirDrop wireless sharing, and an all-new Control Centre. iOS 7 has received mixed reviews but we think it's a significant and welcome upgrade overall. The bright colours and light menus do take some getting used to, and some of Apple's icons are just strange but overall, it's a significant improvement from iOS 6.
The control centre, accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, is without a doubt the most useful new feature. It eliminates the need to delve through the settings menu to access commonly used functions like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, allows you to quickly adjust the brightness, and has shortcuts for the camera, timer, do not disturb mode, and orientation lock. The latter is very handy, particularly when using the iPad mini with Retina display while lying in bed.
A new addition to the iPad mini with Retina display is Apple's decision to make its iWork and iLife apps available for free. The list includes Pages, Numbers, Keynote, GarageBand, iPhoto and iMovie. iCloud integration in the iWork apps will certainly benefit Mac users switching between these apps from an iMac or MacBook, while the apps themselves have all been revamped for iOS 7. Given these apps would normally cost over AU$42, they're certainly a nice bonus for new iPad mini owners.
Everything just happens that split second faster.
The iPad mini with Retina display has the same internals as the iPad Air, and therefore runs the A7 processor first introduced in the iPhone 5s. It's certainly fast — apps open almost instantly, games are smooth and general performance feels snappy. Graphically intense game titles like Infinity Blade III and Real Racing 3 in particular are a nice showcase for what the iPad mini with Retina display is capable of. If you've been using the original iPad mini, you'll immediately notice the difference in performance. While it doesn't completely transform the user experience, everything just happens that split second faster.
The iPad mini with Retina display has a 5-megapixel rear facing camera that doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder, while the front-facing FaceTime HD camera has a 1.2-megapixel sensor and can record 720p HD video. Photos captured with the rear camera are of poor quality when compared to most current smartphones, though we suspect most users of the iPad mini with Retina display won't be too concerned. The front-facing camera offers decent quality video for use in a variety of apps like Skype.
Apple claims the iPad mini with Retina display is good enough for 10 hours of Web browsing over Wi-Fi or 10 hours of video playback, the same as the previous model. In our testing we found these claims pretty close to the mark and generally experienced over nine hours of battery life. Even with heavy use consisting of Web browsing, video watching, music listening, the odd game and constant email, the iPad mini with Retina display easily pushed through a day and a half of use. Considering the upgrades to the screen and the internals, this is a very impressive result.
The iPad mini with Retina Display is available now in both Australia and New Zealand, though its slightly more expensive than the previous model, as follows:
|iPad mini with Retina Display 16GB Wi-Fi||$479||$599|
|iPad mini with Retina Display 32GB Wi-Fi||$598||$749|
|iPad mini with Retina Display 64GB Wi-Fi||$699||$899|
|iPad mini with Retina Display 128GB Wi-Fi||$799||$1049|
|iPad mini with Retina Display 16GB Wi-Fi + 4G||$629||$799|
|iPad mini with Retina Display 32GB Wi-Fi + 4G||$749||$949|
|iPad mini with Retina Display 64GB Wi-Fi + 4G||$849||$1099|
|iPad mini with Retina Display 128GB Wi-Fi + 4G||$949||$1249|
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Surface Pro 4
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung's Galaxy Tab S3 is like a giant Note7
- Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Tablet modules add features but limit functionality
- Apple working on a fix for iPad Pros bricked by iOS 9.3.2
- As tablet sales take a dive, analysts expect smartphone vendors to launch convertibles
- Acer puts liquid cooling in its Switch Alpha 12 tablet
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCMDM Consultant/DesignerVIC
- FTSales Account Manager | Cloud Solutions | Global Tech GiantNSW
- FTSenior IT Business Analyst - Permanent OpportunityNSW
- TPSenior Applications Support OfficerQLD
- FTFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- FTStorage Solution ArchitectVIC
- FTSenior Business AnalystNSW
- CCTest Planner - Infrastructure/Data CentreACT
- CCTest AnalystQLD
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)NSW
- FTSenior Project Manager - Permanent OpportunityNSW
- CCDevops EngineerNSW
- FTSolutions Software DeveloperVIC
- FTSenior Java EngineerACT
- CCDevops Consultant - 12 month contractVIC
- FTDeveloper - XML & JavaVIC
- FTLead PMONSW
- FTTelecommunications Services Manager - Voice/Data/UCQLD
- TPTechnical Report EditorQLD
- TPImplementation Business Partner - Business ModernisationNSW
- TPService Desk ManagerVIC
- FTFull stack Developer - Senior (Java or C# and AngularJS) x 3QLD
- CCSenior Networks Specialist - DNS PlatformVIC
- TPAnalyst Programmer (Adabas)SA
- TPGIS Developer - 6 month ContractQLD