Today in Apple history: iPad mini arrives | Cult of Mac

Today in Apple history: iPad mini arrives

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The iPad mini made a big splash for such a tiny device.
The iPad mini made a big splash for such a tiny device.
Photo: Apple

November 2: Today in Apple history: iPad mini launch brings smaller size and price tag November 2, 2012: The first-generation iPad mini goes on sale, shrinking both the size and the price tag of Apple’s groundbreaking tablet computer.

With a reduced screen size of 7.9 inches – instead of the then-standard 9.7 inches – the iPad mini is the fifth iPad to be released by Apple. Critics hail Apple’s most affordable iPad ever, although some people complain about its lack of a Retina display.

iPad mini: Going big by going small

The iPad mini was an immediate huge hit. Apple sold millions of them right after the launch, outselling the full-size iPad introduced at the same time.

The tablet came out when the current iPhone 5 had a 4.0-inch screen and consumers were clamoring for a larger one. Many people decided that a small tablet would meet their need for a big iPhone and bought an iPad mini as a companion for their iOS handset.

Despite its popularity, the mini had some serious limitations. Most notably, the 1,024-by-768-pixel screen resolution gave it a pixel density of just 163 pixels per inch. The iPhone 5, which also came out in autumn 2012 offered 326 ppi, so the tablet screen was of noticeably lower quality. And it was built around an Apple A5 processor with 512MB of RAM, giving it somewhat pokey performance. Plus, it faced tough competition, including the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

The original iPad mini only stayed in Apple’s product lineup for a year. The second-generation model launched in November 2013 with a faster processor.

That second smaller iOS tablet continued to sell well, but probably peaked at the 2014 debut of the iPhone 6 series with its 4.7- or 5.5-inch screens. People no longer needed a small tablet as a companion for their small handset. They could just get a large iPhone.

A mini legacy

Exactly 10 years later to the day, an iPad mini remains in Apple’s product lineup. The iPad mini 6 has an 8.3-inch display but is still as svelte as the original one.

Plus, the original 2012 mini is significant because it showed Apple’s willingness to experiment publicly with different display sizes. It’s interesting to speculate whether, without this device, there even would have been an iPhone 6 Plus or any of the other large (and small) iPhones we’ve seen since.

Did you own the original iPad mini? Leave your comments below.

Luke Dormehl contributed to this article.