Apple iPad mini: The reviews are in

Reviews of Apple's new iPad mini have started to appear, so what do the experts think?

Reviews of Apple's iPad mini have hit the Web. What do the experts think?

Reviews of Apple's iPad mini have hit the Web. What do the experts think?

You won't be able to get your hands on Apple's iPad mini until Friday, but US and European based reviews of the newest, smallest iPad have begun to trickle through today. Let's take a look.

Read all the details about the Aussie launch of the Apple iPad mini in our comprehensive buying guide

How does the iPad mini stack up according to the experts? Should you buy one? Is the iPad mini the best small tablet on the market? We've rounded up a selection of the best iPad mini reviews so far.

The general consensus seems to be that the iPad mini has a very impressive design, with most reviewers commenting favourably on the premium look and feel, the light weight and the thin case.

However, Apple's decision to not equip the iPad mini with a high resolution "retina" display is a downside, as is the price. The iPad mini is notably more expensive than competing tablets like the Google Nexus 7.

Here's a selection of iPad mini reviews published so far.

Joshua Topolsky, The Verge:

"The iPad mini is an excellent tablet — but it's not a very cheap one. Whether that's by design, or due to market forces beyond Apple's control, I can't say for sure. I can't think of another company that cares as much about how its products are designed and built — or one that knows how to maximize a supply chain as skillfully — so something tells me it's no accident that this tablet isn't selling for $200. It doesn't feel like Apple is racing to some lowest-price bottom — rather it seems to be trying to raise the floor."

"And it does raise the floor here. There's no tablet in this size range that's as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who's been living with (and loving) Google's Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don't say that lightly."

"The iPad mini hasn't wrapped up the "cheapest tablet" market by any stretch of the imagination. But the "best small tablet" market? Consider it captured."

Tim Stevens, Engadget:

"This isn't just an Apple tablet made to a budget. This isn't just a shrunken-down iPad. This is, in many ways, Apple's best tablet yet, an incredibly thin, remarkably light, obviously well-constructed device that offers phenomenal battery life. No, the performance doesn't match Apple's latest and yes, that display is a little lacking in resolution, but nothing else here will leave you wanting. At $329 (AU$369), this has a lot to offer over even Apple's more expensive tablets."

"The hardware here is much nicer than the Nexus 7 and it offers access to the comprehensively more tablet-friendly App Store, but whether that's worth the extra cost depends entirely on the size of your budget -- and your proclivity toward Android. Regardless, the iPad mini is well worth considering for anybody currently in the market for a tablet. Its cost is compelling, its design superb and it of course gives access to the best selection of tablet-optimized apps on the market. To consider it just a cheap, tiny iPad is a disservice. This is, simply, a great tablet."

Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD:

"I've been testing the iPad Mini for several days and found it does exactly what it promises: It brings the iPad experience to a smaller device. Every app that ran on my larger iPad ran perfectly on the Mini. I was able to use it one-handed and hold it for long periods of time without tiring. My only complaints were that it's a tad too wide to fit in most of my pockets, and the screen resolution is a big step backwards from the Retina display on the current large iPad."

"The $329 (AU$369) price may well tempt some budget-conscious buyers who have lusted for an iPad. But Apple believes the lower size and weight, not the price, are the key attractions. If you love the iPad, or want one, but just found it too large or heavy, the iPad Mini is the perfect solution."

Scott Stein, CNET:

"What's unique about the Mini? Without a doubt, it's the design. It's cute, it's discreet, and it's very, very light. It feels like a whole new device for Apple. It's light enough to hold in one hand, something the iPad was never really able to achieve for extended periods of time. It's bedroom-cozy. Other full-fledged 7-inch tablets feel heavier and bulging by comparison. This is a new standard for little-tablet design. It makes the iPad feel fresh. After a week of using the iPad Mini, it seems to find a way to follow me everywhere. It's extremely addicting, and fun to use."

"But oh, that screen. It's not bad, not at all, but it's not Retina Display. It's not even as high-res as other 7-inch tablets. If you're an obsessive over crisp text, you'll notice the fuzziness. If you're comparing the Mini to a laptop, you won't. I wanted that display to be as good as the one on the iPhone 5, iPod Touch, and Retina iPad. It isn't, not now. It mars the product for me, because otherwise, the screen size and its aspect ratio is perfect for handling comics, magazines, and reading apps."

"A Retina Display and a lower price would have made the iPad Mini perfect. The fourth-gen iPad, in contrast, is a superior device under the hood, with much faster performance and a better-quality screen. Still, for many people, the Mini will be preferable because it's less expensive and perfectly portable. For others, it'll be the second iPad -- the kid iPad, the beach iPad. I love this iPad, I'm just not sure I need to own it."

MG Siegler, TechCrunch:

"The first thing you’ll notice is how light the iPad mini is. It’s similar to the effect when holding an iPhone 5 for the first time, though not quite as jarring. At the same time, the iPad mini is far less than half the weight of a full-sized iPad, so the difference is very noticeable. The iPad mini is not quite as light as a Kindle, though it’s not far from that weight. And it’s lighter than a Nexus 7."

"The next thing you’ll notice is how thin the iPad mini is. When you hold it, it almost feels like you’re just holding a sheet of glass. Amazingly, it’s thinner than the iPhone 5. Yes, you read that correctly."

"Let’s not beat around the bush — if there is a weakness of this device, it’s the screen. But that statement comes with a very big asterisk. As someone who is used to a “retina” display on my phone, tablet, and even now computer, the downgrade to a non-retina display is quite noticeable. This goes away over time as you use the iPad mini non-stop, but if you switch back a retina screen, it’s jarring."

"So, all of this (beyond the screen caveat) sounds great. Home run, right? In my mind, yes. I can easily see the iPad mini becoming what the iPod mini was to the iPod — that is, the version that takes a popular, iconic device and vastly expands its user base. Apple says they have sold 100 million iPads since the initial launch two and a half years ago. That leaves roughly 5.9 billion people on this planet without one. The iPad mini can help that."

Edward C. Baig, USA Today:

"The smaller form changes the way you approach the tablet. I've never hesitated to travel with the bigger iPad. It's terrific for reading, watching movies and playing games on an airplane — but given a choice, before a road trip I would now more likely grab the little guy. It's the right size for immersing yourself in a novel. Held sideways, it's simple to bang out an email with your fingers. Battery life is excellent."

"Despite a few quibbles and strong competitors in the space, the Mini is a splendid choice for folks who held off buying an iPad because it was too large or too expensive."

Shane Richmond, The Telegraph:

"There are plenty of people who care nothing for how a gadget looks. The specificationists are more interested in processor cores, USB ports and whether they can root their operating system. That's fine. They'll be unmoved by the sleek metal back and the chamfored edges of the iPad mini. Nevertheless, this is a device that looks and feels great. It's unexpectedly thin and light and in my view it's the best looking tablet computer anyone has designed, beating even its older brother, the 10-inch iPad."

"Where rival tablets have an advantage is in pixels-per-inch. The iPad mini screen has 162 pixels-per-inch, fewer than the 216ppi Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. The extra 54 pixels provide a slight increase in sharpness on the rivals but even then, not as much as I'd like. Having used a retina display iPad and iPhone for so long, the iPad mini screen just looks a little blurry."

"Whether it's [the iPad mini] worth it depends on how much of a premium you put on great design and a vast ecosystem of apps. Apple will sell a lot of these little beauties, that's for sure."

Harry McCracken, TIME:

"Even though this screen isn’t state of the art, it’s O.K. If you’ve ever laid your eyeballs on the ultra-smooth text rendered by the Retina iPad, its text will look fuzzy by comparison, especially at teensier type sizes. But the tradeoff it presents compared to the 7-inchers — fewer pixels, but more space — is reasonable enough."

"All of the software I tried worked without hitches on the Mini. Its screen is close enough in size to the 9.7″ one on the big iPad that nothing seemed oddly undersized. If anything, the on-screen keyboard may be comfier on the Mini, since you can reach all the keys with two thumbs without fear of spraining a muscle."

"If your budget’s got more wiggle room, the iPad Mini is the best compact-sized tablet on the market. Apple didn’t build yet another bargain-basement special; it squeezed all of the big iPad’s industrial-design panache, software polish and third-party apps, and most of its technology, into a smaller thinner, lighter, lower-priced model. The result may be a product in a category of one — but I have a hunch it’s going to be an awfully popular category."

What do you think of the first round of iPad mini reviews? Are you planning to purchase one on Friday? Let us know in the comments below!

Related content

iPad mini Australian buying guide
Apple iPad mini preview
Apple iPad fourth generation preview
Apple's iPad mini is 4G for Australia, too
Apple iPad mini vs. Apple iPad: We compare Apple's new tablets

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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