iPad mini 4 review: An almost hidden gem from Apple Featured

iPad mini 4 review: An almost hidden gem from Apple

The launch of the iPad mini 4 was low-key by Apple's standards. The iPad Pro was hugging all the limelight, which was a shame as there's something really impressive with this smaller model.

Design

The design is as you'd expect with a tablet from Apple: it's got a metal case, curved at the edged, with an almost ceramic in the hand. The buttons - are now limited to just power and volume, with the silencing rocker switch now placed on screen in the Control Centre.

The overall design is similar to the iPad Pro. It's small enough to hold in one hand (with stretched fingers) and slips into a jacket pocket. The 2048 x 1536 screen is big enough to show most content nicely, and while it's hard not to prefer the larger sized Apple tablets, the mini 4 packs a real punch.

It's got great colour reproduction, for checking your pictures and watching movies. The contrast ratio is great and the screen packs very low reflectance, so even checking out some darker scenes on the tube is a pleasant experience.

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ipad Mini-4-graphics

Features

It features aren't outstanding, it's just an all round very capable high quality Apple product. The 298.8g weight means you feel like you're just holding an oversized iPhone, but the larger 4:3 ratio of the screen means you can see more content in once place.

The more impressive thing, perhaps, is that the mini 4 is using the A8 chip - not even the powerful A8X created for the iPad Air 2. It's essentially got as much grunt as an iPhone 6, but with more RAM and runs very well too.

The iPad range thrives because of the App Store, and Apple has imbued the mini 4 with enough smarts to be able to handle nearly any title from the library. This means high-powered games and larger files work on the screen, although big apps might feel a little limited on a small screen.


Apple iPad Mini 4 32GB Wi-Fi - £379 at Amazon UK

Performance

It's hard to find fault with the performance of the iPad mini 4, as it works just as you'd expect it to. The extra RAM boost is a boon, as it means firing all those extra pixels is a little easier, but overall there's nothing to criticise.

The battery life is identical to that of the iPad Air 2 - not bad considering it's using an older CPU. That's probably the disappointment of the mini 4, as it's using a chipset that's a year older then the iPad Air 2.

In a couple of years that's going to be an issue when it can't handle iOS 11 quite so smoothly. Perhaps for the price you won't mind upgrading, but it's curious that we haven't at least got the tablet-friendly chip in the 'new' iPad mini.

The battery life of 10 hours seems about right - without the use of external accessories, so it's kinder on the power management. The camera is an 8MP iSight sensor which is reasonable for a tablet and should be more than good enough for general use.

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ipad mini4

Usability

iOS 9 is a solid and reliable operating system for the simplicity of the tablet - a glorified iPhone OS perhaps, but that misses the point that it's allowing the iPad range to just be more targeted, using apps as and when you want them and not mimicking the desktop experience from a PC or Mac.

The split screen mode has been added here - which seems like overkill on such a small screen to really make proper use of it. But it's there if you want it.

Verdict

The A8 chip will start to show its age a few years down the line, when it might start slowing down when apps becoming more powerful.

The design - thinner than before, and much better to hold - is brilliant for having a really portable tablet, and having the same screen resolution of 2048 x 1536 is impressive given the more compact size.

It's great to use, and for the price it's a good entry point into the Apple iPad world.


Apple iPad Mini 4 32GB Wi-Fi - £379 at Amazon UK

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