Apple announced the iPad Mini, a smaller version of its popular tablet, Tuesday. By itself, the device is fairly impressive. It takes all the good features of the iPad 2 (circa 2011) and squishes them down into a smaller, thinner, lighter device.
The iPad Mini has a 7.9-inch display with 1024 x 768 pixels, an A5 processor, 16 GB of storage (base model), a 5-megapixel main camera and 720p HD FaceTime camera, and the Lightning port.
Prices start at $329 for the 16-GB Wi-Fi version. The Wi-Fi version hits stores November 2. Prices increase to $429 for the 32-GB Wi-Fi version and $529 for the 64-GB Wi-Fi version. Adding LTE adds another $130 to each model; for example, the 16-GB iPad Mini with LTE 4G costs $459. It comes in white and black.
[ What's up with all that silicon in Apple's new Lightning cable? Read Apple Lightning Cable Teardown Reveals Mysterious Circuits. ]
Design -- The iPad Mini is truly smaller than its larger brother. It measures 7.2-mm thick, weighs just 0.68 pounds, and can be held and used in a single hand.
LTE -- The iPad Mini supports the LTE networks of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless (no luck, T-Mobile!). This means it has access to 4G mobile broadband in hundreds of markets around the country.
Apps/Ecosystem -- There are 225,000 iPad apps in the App Store. All of them will work on the iPad Mini without the need for developers to lift a finger. The iPad Mini has the same aspect ratio and resolution as the iPad and iPad 2, so all of those apps will just flow right on over. Beyond apps, the iPad Mini will automatically be able to hook into Apple's vast content ecosystem.
Battery Life -- Even with LTE on board, Apple says the iPad Mini will still get about 10 hours of battery life. That's an incredible amount of uptime when considering the productivity needs of today's mobile professionals.
Slower Processor -- Apple insists that the dual-core A5 processor is more than capable of providing enough power to run the iPad Mini. That may be true, but the iPhone 5 has an A6 chip and the 4th-gen iPad (also announced today) has an A6X chip. An older processor is an older processor, no matter how you slice it.
No Retina Display -- The 1024 x 768 pixel display of the iPad Mini boils down to a resolution of 162 pixels per inch. That's better than the original iPad and iPad 2, but it's no Retina Display.
iOS 6 -- Apple calls iOS 6 the most powerful mobile platform in the world, but the operating system still has plenty of weaknesses that competitors, such as Google, will be able to exploit. For example, consider the lack of support for widgets and other dynamic home-screen content.
Price -- It's no surprise that Apple is charging a price premium for its smaller tablet when compared to other 7-inch models. With an introductory price of $329, it costs a full $80 more than the 16 GB Nexus 7. Of course, the Nexus 7 is thick, heavy, and made of plastic, while the iPad Mini is thin, light, and made of aluminum.