That’s right, after all the rumours and speculation at the end of October the new IPad Mini was announced and released a couple of weeks later in plenty of time for Christmas. The first generation IPad Mini was a huge success, in spite of the shorter queues outside Apple stores on release day and subdued reviews. After using the device for several days it moved from being a shrunken IPad to being the IPad of choice. It was far easier to use than its full sized big brother, meaning – like many others – including iOS developer Pablo Quinteros – I started using the Mini far more often as the full sized device gathered dust. With this in mind, how will the second generation IPad supporting a Retina display and faster processor, compete with the latest releases from Google and Amazon?
The biggest issue with the IPad Mini 2 is the price, almost $400 for the base spec model, when you compare it with rivals Apple needs to provide something special. It does feel like quality in your hands but let’s face it, its Apple – it’s going to feel like quality, this is the perfect time for the old excuse of “it’s Apple, expect to pay more”.
It’s great to see Apple pushing the Mini with an A7 chip rather than settling for the older A6 chip. The A7 is a full 64-bit, first included in the iPhone 5S and is up to twice as fast. The Mini also supports the latest M7 motion co-processor to collect data from the myriad of accelerometers, gyroscopes and compasses. Although you’re not likely to jump around the room in a Wii style frenzy, the M7 (known as Oscar) can be used for more practical applications, opening the product to different market environments.
The inclusion of the retina screen does feel overdue, it’s a shame Apple felt the need to leave it out of the original IPad Mini to give us a reason to upgrade. This may be unfair on Apple, as the increase in cost would likely have been prohibitive. Anyway it’s in now and looks great, as all Retina displays do and beats the competition easily.
Battery life on the original IPad Mini is slightly better as it needs to power half the number of pixels, however Apple have included a 50% larger battery to make the difference barely noticeable. As the competition has fewer pixels their batteries do last longer, the Google Nexus 7 can last as long as 33% longer than the IPad Mini 2 Retina. One thing we do miss a little is the TouchID of the iPhone 5s, although still feeling a little gimmicky it feels odd not being able to use it as a gimmicky feature.
Is it worth the upgrade from the IPad Mini for a Retina display and faster processor? I’m not sure, but what does sell it is that owners of the original IPad mini will feel envious when you hand them the IPad Mini 2 Retina. Which should you buy between the IPad Mini 2 Retina and the competition? In my opinion I would buy the IPad Mini 2 Retina as there is no comparison with rivals on build quality and just forget that in some situations the competition are slightly better.