“It’s bedroom-cozy,” wrote CNET’s Scott Stein. “Other full-fledged 7-inch tablets feel heavier and bulging by comparison. This is a new standard for little-tablet design.”
Reviewers had no trouble holding the iPad mini in one hand, and even found its screen large enough in landscape orientation to churn out an e-mail or two.
App scaling wasn’t a problem either, reviewers said, with programs from the iPad working quite well on the iPad mini’s screen. Few had screen input misfires when holding the device in one hand — even when using applications that are sensitive to inputs from the edges of the screens. Reviewers didn’t complain about sudden page turns or unplanned turns in racing games because their thumb hit the edge of the screen by accident.
The size, overall, seems to be good for one thing you really can’t do with an iPad — read for long periods of time. That means that the iPad mini has the basic weight and convenience of an e-reader, but with far more capabilities. Several reviewers also revisited Apple’s assertion that the iPad mini’s 8.75-inch display gives it 35 percent more screen than its competitors. In general, they said, that’s a good thing but more than one reviewer noted that it’s just a tad too wide for the some jacket pockets.
“It is just wide enough that I was not able to stash it in one inside sport jacket pocket but was able to slip it into another,” wrote Edward Baig of USA Today. Still, the smaller size makes it very purse- and travel-friendly.
Reviewers said that the battery life was the same or better than the 10 hours users get from the iPad and that sound quality on the device’s single stereo speaker was fairly good.
With this design, Apple’s addressed some core complaints about the iPad’s portability and, in some ways, realized the tablet’s potential as an everywhere” device, reviewers said.
“You could argue that the iPad Mini is what the iPad always wanted to be,” wrote the New York Times’ David Pogue.
But it’s not better in all ways.
For one, the iPad mini has the same display as the iPad 2, meaning that while it’s a fine display it doesn't match up to the latest iPads or even the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. This wasn’t a huge problem, reviewers said, but it was worth comment in every review.
“In my tests, video looked just fine, but not as good as on the regular iPad,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg.
But the difference in quality was noticeable, and reviewers warned that those who expect a very high-quality display for video may want to give the iPad mini a pass.
And then there’s the price. While the build quality and Apple ecosystem seemed to justify the price for many reviewers, they acknowledged that the price difference between this device and its competitors is considerable.