The iPad Mini Has Finally Arrived, And is a Big Disappointment

iPad Mini

The rumors have been proclaiming a smaller iPad was in the works all year, and it turns out they were indeed correct. Today Apple finally announced a smaller version of the most popular tablet in the world, along with an updated version of the larger iPad with double the graphics and processing power of the iPad 3.

The iPad Mini is a little late to the game as far as 7-inch tablets go, but Apple looks to capitalize on the lower-end market nonetheless. There’s only one problem: the iPad Mini has an average screen and a ridiculous price tag.

It is essentially a trimmed down version of the iPad 2. It has the same screen resolution and the same dual core A5 processor, and costs almost as much.

The screen resolution is the main disappointment. The iPad Mini has a 7.9-inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768. That’s only 162 pixels per inch. Compare that to the larger iPad that has 264 pixels per inch. 102 pixels less per inch is a huge difference.

To put it in perspective with the competition, 7-inch Android tablets like the Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7 have 216 pixels per inch. And the 7-inch Nook HD has 243 pixels per inch.

This is especially important when it comes to reading because the higher the pixel density is, the clearer and sharper text appears. Given the iPad Mini’s smaller size, I thought ereading would be a bigger focus. But apparently not.

Other specs for the iPad Mini include the usual 10 hour battery life, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, optional LTE, it has a 1.2MP front camera and a 5MP rear camera, a single speaker, a mic, headphone jack, and it at weighs in at 10.88 ounces and is 7.2mm thick, making it 23% thinner and 53% lighter than the regular-sized iPad.

Pre-orders start on Friday. The 16GB model sells for $329 and goes up $100 per increment for 32GB and 64GB. The Wi-Fi model starts shipping on Friday November 2nd. The Wi-Fi plus Cellular model starts at $459 for 16GB, and starts shipping a couple weeks after the Wi-Fi model.

Before the announcement I was planning on getting an iPad Mini to review from entirely an ereading perspective given the smaller size is more suited for it than the larger iPad, but there’s no way I’m going to pay $329 for a tablet with that screen resolution, only 16GB of storage space, no memory card slot, and no HDMI port.

That won’t stop Apple from selling millions upon millions of them, however.

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23 Responses to “The iPad Mini Has Finally Arrived, And is a Big Disappointment”

  1. Nathan, I was stunned! I had heard rumors that the iPad Mini wouldn’t have a Retina display, and a 1200 x 800 resolution would be semi-acceptable, but I was literally shocked when I watched the product video and heard 1024 x 768! Although it might not sound like much, there is a HUGE difference between these two resolutions, especially when it comes to eReading (just compare a Nexus 7 with a 1st gen Kindle Fire). 1024 x 768 is the display of last year’s tablets. Text looks blurry or pixelated at this res, especially thinner fonts. It also seems way overpriced, probably due Apple’s attempted avoidance of iPod 5/iPad Mini competition.

    Could the iPad Mini be a major failure? Maybe not, considering all of the Apple junkies out there, but it will certainly sell poorly among the eReading community.

    • I know what you mean—I couldn’t believe it either. And what’s the deal with replacing the iPad 3 after just 6 months? And to give it a faster processor with better graphics, no less. As if anyone is complaining the iPad 3 is too slow and the graphics aren’t good. Weird day, Apple.

  2. I could be described as an Apple fan, what with an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and a mac…..but I would never pay $329 for a 7 inch tablet, even if it is Apple, especially one with clearly inferior parts. If I were in the market for a small tablet this year it would be between the new KF and Nook HD – iPad mini is just too expensive.

  3. According to Apple’s own website, they have two versions of iPad Mini, one with Retina Display and one without. The Retina Display model starts at $499.

  4. @Space27
    I only see the iPad with retina display for $499 and not the iPad Mini with 1024-by-768 resolution at 163 pixels per inch (ppi) http://www.apple.com/ipad/compare/

  5. Apple introduced two iPads today.

    One was an update to the ‘full size’ iPad. The “4th generation iPad”. Same prices as the iPad 3rd generation released earlier this year with internal hardware upgrades. Faster CPU and GPU ( puts a big gap between Nook and Amazon offerings and likely also ahead of so far mythical Nexus 10). It also has better 4G LTE radio. They also added Lightning connector.

    The iPad mini has 1024 x 768 of orginal iPad but increased density 163 ppi ( same density as iPhone 3GS but not necessarily same screen tech). It isn’t “Retina” but it isn’t bad. It has a significantly larger screen than all of the “at cost” 7″ offering but weighs less.

    The second one, iPad mini, is geared toward being a more affordable iPad. It runs all the 100’s of thousands of iPad apps that are out there. It is no way primarily targeted as an book e-reader any more than the iPad is targeted primarily as a book reader.

    The iPad mini isn’t a 7″ tablet killer. IHMO it is target more so at the 8-9″ offerings that were going to try to undercut the iPad. Apple countered those with a two prong attach. Better iPad that they can’t touch on performance and another iPad at their price point.

    The “at cost” 7″ stuff Apple could care less about. It isn’t a model that is not likely going to work over the long term.

    • Yeah but you have to admit that the 1024 x 768 screen is just crap when compared to the retina display. That resolution will actually be WORSE than the Kindle Fire 1 or the Nook Tablet as there is .9″ more of space to fill. The Nook HD+ will be a 9″ tablet with a 1920 x 1280 display. If you root it, you will have an open Andriod tablet every bit as versatile as the iPad Mini (minus the camera).

      It seems that Apple has actually made the same blunder that Sony did this season. They are taking last year’s technology, polishing it up, and offering it to customers as “new.”

    • That makes a lot of sense. Never looked at it that way.

  6. In all of the promotional videos I have seen, Apple reps claim that the Mini “isn’t just a shrunken-down version for the iPad,” and then they immediately defer to the materials and build quality. NOT the hardware or software but the build quality. This slight of hand is a technique employed by politicians all the time. They repeat a narrative or a claim over and over again in the hopes that they can plant a false assumption in the minds of the public.

    The iPad Mini IS just a shrunken-down version of the iPad 2.

  7. ” … That resolution will actually be WORSE than the Kindle Fire 1 or the Nook Tablet …”

    It is not perceptibly worse. The Nook Tablet and ‘regular’ Kindle Fire screen is 169 ppi. This is 163 ppi. That is a “princess and the pea” difference. This the same ballpark at the majority of e-readers out there. The notion that this screen is so horrifically bad as to be a problem is humorous.

    There are several factors like contrast, color gamut, and other optical qualities that will swamp that small of a difference.

    The 0.9″ is a diagonal measurement. It is not suggestive of the quality of the display image.

    This isn’t last year’s technology. It is just doesn’t have a trendy “Retina” tag. Frankly, that label is starting to take on the same characteristics as the “megapixel” label in digital cameras or MHz CPU ratings. Equating bigger with better, “24MP has to be better than 16MP”, to foster easy uni-dimensional metrics.

  8. The screen is not “horrifically bad”, but it is bad compared to the other tablets this is competing against in the small tablet market. The same would go for most of the other specs. In a spec only comparison test it cannot beat the Nook HD, Nook HD+, Kindle Fire HD, or Nexus 7.

    That said, many people will buy it because it is Apple and the build will be great, the ecosystem is the best, and the product will work well. All of which are valid points to buy the product aside from the specs.

  9. Yeah, but if you put a retina display next to a 1024 x 768 display, which one would you take off the table to go read or surf the web on? Would you be like, “Oh cool, a non-retina display. I’m home.” :)

  10. Everyone is free to buy the device that fills their needs. Ease of use, plenty of correctly scaled apps, not phone apps, make for a pleasant experience despite the missing retina display.

    Apple has never been  known to sell their products at or near cost. Amazon, B&N, Google,etc. are used to competing against each other for the budget consumer. It is well-positioned price wise between the iPod Touch and the full-size iPad.

    The best news was the Fusion Drive for the iMac and MacBook Pro.

  11. To me the ipad mini is for ppl who can’t or won’t pay $500 for an ipad. I don’t think that customer will care about specs per se. All they will see is ” I can get an ipad for $330.

    • Agreed. The majority of people won’t know what they are missing out on, or how much they are overpaying for a substandard device.

  12. Come on guys we all know that Apple is a master in marketing. So why would they put all the goodies in their first product. This way they can upgrade ever so often and in the end you’ll have a retina display. This is the Ipad that every fan will want to own and they’ll worship it. No I’m not against apple but I would love to see some real inovations.

  13. Apple’s idea of *marketting* innovation is getting people to pay US$329 for an XGA 8in screen by telling them is has a bigger surface area than a US$199 product with higher pixel density, *after* spending 6 months telling everybody that higher pixel density is *all* that matters with their magical fairy dust “Retina” displays.
    See, pixel density matters at 10inches and it matters at 4inches but it doesn’t matter at 8inches. Not one bit.
    Until next year, that is, when they bring out the magically innovative iPad mini HD.

  14. “… *after* spending 6 months telling everybody that higher pixel density is *all* that matters with their magical fairy dust “Retina” displays. …”

    Not really. The current iPad marketing page begins this way. (pretty the same as with iPad 3rd gen ).

    “… Pick up the iPad with Retina display and suddenly, it’s clear. You’re actually touching your photos, reading a book, playing the piano. Nothing comes between you and what you love. That’s because the fundamental elements of iPad — the display, the processor, the cameras, the wireless connection — all work together to create the best possible experience. And they make iPad capable of so much more than you ever imagined. …”
    http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/

    Retina is a factor but it is not the only factor. Apple constantly pounds the table with the number of iPad specific apps that is an order of magnitude higher than the competition and the 10’s of millions more tablets they have sold than any other single competitor.

    Apple never sells a single feature. They sell the holistic system where some feature may get more emphasis but it is never just one feature. People doesn’t use single features they use systems.

    The tech spec crowd will get all wound up about a single feature but Apple rarely, if ever does.

    • @Lyman: I do not understand your point. Are you really trying to defend Apple? From your statements it looks like it …

      I value everybody opinion when it makes a sense. You just remind us what is the Apple’s marketing/design philosophy. I do not care about their philosophy … I have a list of features that i like to see in a tablet and i’m brand neutral. This time around, Apple wont get my money. What you will do it is up to you …

      We are entitled to have an opinion. Some people have said that are not interested in iPad mini based on the resolution alone. I respect that because is their opinion. You should too.

  15. The iPad Mini is a great tablet. What you are getting is a smaller tablet that arrives with a well developed App ecosystem and an awesome/easy to use OS. Its tech specs are more than enough for somebody that wants a smaller and/or cheaper iPad. I don’t need a tablet with better tech specs but poor OS and UI – that’s what Windows has always been on the PC.