The New iPad Mini Is (Finally) A Great Gaming Device [Opinion]

iPad mini with Retina

The iPad mini, announced today, is suddenly a fantastic gaming device. While the original iPad mini introduced a fantastic iPad form factor at 7.9 inches, the iPad 2-equivalent display and CPU just doesn’t quite cut it for higher-end gaming apps.

Of course, all of Apple’s iOS devices have been great for gaming ever since the App Store launched back in 2008. Games make up a huge portion of the 1,000,000 apps out there to date, and it’s not surprising anymore to see console-level gaming experiences show up on both iPad and iPhone.

The introduction of the iPhone 5s, with its 64-bit A7 chip and M7 motion co-processor, was a watershed moment for gamers and game developers, as it brings up to 4x the CPU speed and up to 8x the graphics performance as the previous generation of iPhone 5. These are the same numbers you might hear about when console makers like Sony and Microsoft talk about their next generation machines, both due in time for the holidays.

It was an exciting surprise, then, at the iPad mini announcement today. The new 7.9-inch iPad mini upgrade will also have the A7 and M7 chips inside, bringing that faster processor, graphics, and gyroscopic co-processing experience to a device that now also boasts a 2048-by-1536 pixel resolution, which gives the new device 3.1 million pixels for game developers to work with.

Other handheld gaming platforms can’t compare. Consider the Nintendo 3DS, with its 800×240 upper screen resolution. Or the somewhat better PlayStation Vita, with a resolution of 960×544. Both of these dedicated handheld devices have a dedicated library of games, but–issues of quality and brand aside–nowhere near as many games as iOS. Both cost quite a bit less, though, so don’t count them out, just yet. The point here isn’t that the new iPad mini will crush its gaming competitors, just that its a worthwhile contender.

The new display on the iPad mini is of higher resolution than most people’s current HDTVs, which top out at 1080p. With a newer, high-definition Apple TV, you’ll be slamming the new iPad mini display right up to the big screen in no time, making this a true contender for the new micro-console generation, like Ouya and Gamestick, especially with Apple’s new iOS 7 controller specifications that allow any developer to add universal controller code to their game.

The revolution here isn’t only resolution, but screen size as well. While I love gaming on my iPhone, I much prefer gaming on the larger screen of the iPad mini. It’s a fantastic mid-size alternative between the full sized iPad (now known as iPad Air) and the iPhone 5s. the iPad mini is now the perfect size to play games on: a portable gaming device with the power and screen size to back it up.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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