iPad mini reviews are upon us. Apple’s embargo recently lifted and handpicked publications have exposed their early reviews for all to see. Apple has already sold out of initial pre-order stock, and the company’s smallest tablet will be available in limited supply at retail stores this weekend. The mini is expected to rock Apple’s bottom line this holiday season, and reviewers are gushing about how the bar has been set higher for the rest of the tablet market (again).
We’ve scoured the internet to find early reviews of the iPad mini, and they have been collected below for your viewing pleasure. Cult of Mac’s official review will be published soon.
The Verge has high praise to give:
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.
Engadget loves it:
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, this has a lot to offer over even Apple’s more expensive tablets.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball offers cogent analysis:
Both the 11-inch Air and full-size iPad 3/4 make more sense to me as devices for people who only want to carry one portable computer. But if I’m going to carry both, I think it makes more sense to get a bigger MacBook and the smaller iPad Mini.
If the Mini had a retina display, I’d switch from the iPad 3 in a heartbeat. As it stands, I’m going to switch anyway. Going non-retina is a particularly bitter pill for me, but I like the iPad Mini’s size and weight so much that I’m going to swallow it.
My guess is that this is going to play out much like the iPod and iPod Mini back in 2004: the full-size model will continue to sell strongly, but the Mini is going to become the bestselling model.
Jim Dalrymple of The Loop is impressed with how the iPad mini fits into his workflow:
I was really surprised with how much I used the iPad mini in my daily routine — more than the 10-inch iPad. There are a couple of things you have to remember with the iPad mini. First, it isn’t just a smaller iPad, but rather it feels like its own device.
Anything that is simply shrunk down or scaled up feels amateurish. The iPad mini feels like an iPad, it’s something you can have fun with and accomplish tasks on.
Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal has a couple complaints, but is still impressed:
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.
TechCrunch speculates about how the iPad mini’s price will affect consumer perception:
But how will a $329 tablet fare in a world of $199 tablets? It’s hard to know for sure, but my guess would be in the range of “quite well” to “spectacular”. Apple has done a good job of making the case that the iPad mini is not just another 7-inch tablet — in fact, it’s not a 7-inch tablet at all. It’s a 7.9-inch tablet — a subtle, but important difference. As a result, it can utilize every iOS app already in existence. And it can access the entire iTunes ecosystem. And it will be sold in Apple Stores.
Apple isn’t looking at this as $329 versus $199. They’re looking at this as an impossibly small iPad 2 sold at the most affordable price for an iPad yet. In other words, they’re not looking at the tablet competition. This isn’t a tablet. It’s an iPad. People love these things.
Fox News admires Apple’s craftsmanship:
Despite the cheaper price, the iPad mini doesn’t feel cheap. Quite the opposite. When I picked it up, I was reminded of the first time I held a first-generation iPhone. It feels sturdy. Hand-crafted. Expertly made.
CNET believes that the smallness of the iPad mini makes it unique:
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.
TIME thinks Apple has taken over a new niche in the tablet market:
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.
The Telegraph says the smaller, non-Retina screen is balanced out by the added portability:
The sacrifice in screen size from a 10-inch tablet is balanced out by the more convenient size. You can hold it in one hand, slip it into a jacket pocket or a handbag and still have all the power of an iPad at your fingertips. In practice the smaller screen size is not much of a problem and it is because of that 0.9-inches, which gives 35 per cent more screen area than the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD.
The Guardian believes Apple has another hit on its hands:
Apple is going to sell a lot of these – quite possibly more than the “large” iPad – in this quarter. The only way Apple could improve on this product would be (as some people are already agitating) to give it a retina screen and somehow make it lighter. That might happen at some point. You can wait if you like; other people, in the meantime, will be buying this one.
SlashGear concludes that the iPad mini is Apple’s “everyman” tablet:
In the end, it’s about an overall package, an experience which Apple is offering. Not the fastest tablet, nor the cheapest, nor the one that prioritizes the most pixel-dense display, but the one with the lion’s share of tablet applications, the integration with the iOS/iTunes ecosystem, the familiarity of usability and, yes, the brand cachet. That’s a compelling metric by which to judge a new product, and it’s a set of abilities that single the iPad mini out in the marketplace. If the iPad with Retina display is the flagship of Apple’s tablet range, then the iPad mini is the everyman model, and it’s one that will deservedly sell very well.
Businessweek calls it “crazy light:”
The most striking thing about the mini is in how thin and light it is. It is really thin and light. Crazy thin and crazy light, even.
Several publications have also published standalone reviews for the fourth-gen iPad, an incremental update to the 10-inch iPad with Retina display. Some of the best can be found at The Verge, Engadget, CNET and SlashGear.
The iPad mini goes on sale in stores this Friday, November 2nd. Pricing starts at $329.