The iPad Mini Is The Little Big iPad [Leander’s First Impressions]


The little big iPad: small enough for a pocket; big enough to work on.

I just got an iPad mini a couple of hours ago from the UPS guy. I took it to lunch and we’ve been playing around with it here in the office.

Couple of observations:

The screen is not great: John is absolutely right about the quality of the screen. It is manifestly lower resolution than newer Retina Displays.

I loaded several apps, eBooks and websites on my iPhone 5 and mini to compare. Text looks much clearer and brighter on the iPhone than the mini. Take email: text is a bit fuzzy and indistinct on the mini. It’s as sharp as a razor on the iPhone. In addition, the mini’s screen is markedly murkier. It’s darker than the iPhone’s screen, even with the brightness turned all the way up. Whites aren’t white: they are greyish white. Everything pops on the iPhone’s screen. Although I wouldn’t express my feelings about the screen quite as strongly as John does, his assessment is correct. It’s a pity the screen isn’t better. A Retina Display on the mini would make it near perfect.

The screen is fine: The other thing to note is that I don’t care. I don’t care that it’s not perfect. I don’t care that the mini’s screen is not Retina. I don’t care if text is a bit fuzzy. Yes, I can tell that the two screens are different in quality when I compare them side-by-side. But I’ve already forgotten that the mini is lower resolution. I simply don’t notice. When I’m using the iPad mini, I’m not aware of the screen’s shortcomings. I simply don’t see the fuzziness, the jaggies in text. I know that a lot of people *will* see the difference. And for a lot of people, it *will* ruin the experience. I’m not one of them.

A couple of other observations:

Performance: Performance is perfectly fine. Yes, it’s not as snappy as the new iPad, but it’s perfectly functional. Every app I loaded and played with performed fine. There are no significant performance lags or delays to report (so far).

Size: The form factor is amazing. It’s the little big iPad: significantly bigger than an iPhone but small enough to hold in one hand or stash in a pocket. It easily fits in the pocket of the sleeveless vest I usually wear. It even fits in the inside pocket of a suit jacket, although it makes a bulge from the outside. It’s as light as a feather and beautifully made. Like the iPhone 5, it’s almost too thin and light. Yeah, that’s a ridiculous thing to say, but I’m a bit nervous about it about clumsily knocking it out of my hands. I can see it ruined before the weekend is out.

Typing: The screen is just big enough to work on. You can’t touch-type on it, but I’m not a touch typist anyway. So far, it’s been fine for my two-finger hunt-and-peck typing style. I already do a lot of my work on the iPad. I ditched my MacBook for an iPad 3 several months ago. I’m curious to see if I can ditch the full-size iPad for the mini and use it as a fulltime device. I’ll report back in a few weeks, but so far, it looks like it might be possible.

The iPad mini is small enough to fit in the pocket of a suit.
The mini is big enough to type with both hands — if you’re a two-finger hunt-and-peck typist like me.
Thumb typing is even easier.
  • MWinNYC

    Just played with the iPad Mini at Apple Grand Central, and I was more impressed than I thought I would be. It has a really great feel to it- very light-weight, and fits easily in one hand- a least a man’s hand. I saw several petite women having to use 2 hands, though. And I see the picture above, but I don’t personally own any suit coat or sports coat pockets large enough to carry the Mini. Standard suit coat pockets just aren’t that big.

    Anyways, after using my iPhone 5 over the past few weeks, the slowness of the A5 chip was noticeable, actually quite noticeable! I compared them side-by-side.

    My impression is that this is a far superior device to function as an e-reader than the full-size iPad. But, if you want to do any photo editing or use any of the art/design apps, the full-size iPad is much better. So, as with anything, it all depends on what you want to do with it.

    I won’t even consider paying the price for the 2-year-old (4-generation-old) A5, or lack of Retina for that matter, until it is upgraded. Likewise, I would never purchase a WiFi ONLY device.

  • That_Dan_Person

    Thanks for the first impressions. The screen was my biggest concern. But after playing with one I’ve decided to bite the bullet and sell my 3rd gen iPad for the mini. In terms of portability the mini wins hands down. It’s a good size for when out and about. IMO it just seems more useful as a portable device then what the iPad is. I can live with a 7.8″ screen. If I need a bigger screen I can airplay it to my 42″ TV.

  • egoattack

    The display just like an iPad 2. Overall iPad Mini spec and design is almost perfect form just lack of Retina Display. I will buy iPad Mini when got Retina Display.

  • deachy

    Haha, M&S Jacket. Do they have M&S in the states?

  • Drshemming

    Day 2 with the Mini and I still cannot get over the difference in size when just looking at it on the table and carrying it, and when actually using it, there is definatley a bit of the Tardis effect going on.

    I totally agree that the screen isn’t as bright or crystal clear sharp as the retina displayed models, but the form factor is so outstanding that you get over it very quickly.

    I actually prefer typing on the Mini’s keyboard to the full size IPad as for me the keys are just the right size and spacing for easy 2/3 finger typing in landscape mode and easy 2 finger typing when in portrait mode.

    I can confirm that it’s small size means it fits into thenpocket of a Barbour quilted jacket (my go to autumn winter jacket).

    Yesterday I was scoring it at 8 out of 10, but I have revised it up half a point for just how useable the keyboard really is. (Typed this on my Mini).

  • FranklinMcMahon

    I agree..the screen is not retina but pretty good, after the reviews I found it much better and sharper than I thought it would be. After you have one, after an hour you don’t even notice it. What you will notice is that it’s amazingly light and very portable. Now after a day I am debating if I will even go back to using a full size iPad. I think its the best iPad ever.

  • raist3001

    If everyone was truly honest with themselves and others they would be forced to admit that apple screwed the public by not releasing the ipad mini with a retina screen on its first release. And it’s attitudes like those found here as to the reason why apple does this. The apple sheep will continue to buy anything apple makes regardless of how inferior it is to other products. And yes again if the apple sheep were honest with them selves and others they would be forced to admit that the kindle hd and nexusn7 are better products than the mini. Apple knows that they can get away with releasing an inferior product because the sheep will buy the next generation retina equipped model. It’s a s simple as that. I love my apple products but I refuse to play apples game. I refuse to buy the ipad 4 a short 4 months with my ipad 3. I refuse to buy the inferior mini with no retina display. Apple knows the sheep will which is why they can get away with this. Instead of standing up and saying no to apple for releasing the inferior mini, the sheep will follow and buy it. Mini can not compare to my ipad 3 or my nexus 7. Period.

  • MacHead84

    Astonishing how many people still obsessed over the apple created term “retina display”. For one, it really only matters on a phone because they are held at around 3 inches from the users faces. An iPad mini is going to be held at a distance 5 times further away than where a phone is held. Your eye balls are amazing things, and the techies seem to forget about that amazing technology sitting right inside your own face. Our eyes have the ability to adjust to what ever we are looking at. So with the distance of viewing accompanied with our eyes ability to adjust, no honest human will notice much of any difference in screen resolution. This argument was done years ago already with 720p and 1080p. At a distance of 10+ feet on 50 inch screens the human eye isnt capable of distinguishing a difference the two.

  • Timothy Williamson

    Don’t forget you can split the keyboard on the Mini to make it easier to thumb-type.

  • theobserving


  • dcdevito

    Waste of money – proof that Apple can sell anything at any price and people will buy it.

    It’s 1997 all over again – apple has flooded their product lines. The iPod Touch, iPad 2 and iPad Mini are all overlapping in price – this will do nothing but confuse people.

  • SantaRamsey

    Love my job, since I’ve been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I’m making it online(Click on menu Home)

  • Wirehedd

    Personally, I think the best part of this article is that we see that Leander wears a ring that’s actually a bottle opener. Works for me.:)