What is the iPad Mini?

A Look at Apple's 7.9-inch Line of Tablets


The iPad Mini refers to a line of smaller, more affordable tablets released by Apple.  The original iPad Mini was announced on October 23rd, 2012.  Designed to be operated with one hand, the iPad Mini offers many of the same features as the full-sized and pro-sized iPads.  

The iPad Mini features a 7.9-inch display, which is slightly bigger than most 7-inch tablets.  The original iPad Mini had the same 1024x768 resolution as earlier iPads, but beginning with the second-generation Mini, the smaller tablet has the same "Retina Display" graphics as its bigger brother.  The Mini is about 7 millimeters thick and weighs around .68 pounds. 

There are currently two iPad Mini tablets in production: The iPad Mini 2 and the iPad Mini 4.  The original iPad Mini is no longer offered for sale by Apple.

The iPad Mini 4

Apple announced the original iPad Mini 4 with little fanfare alongside the announcements for the iPhone 6S and the newly redesigned Apple TV.  And there's a good reason why Apple didn't take much time listing the features of the iPad Mini 4: it's basically an iPad Air 2 with a smaller size.  

This makes the iPad Mini 4 tied for the second most powerful Apple tablet behind the iPad Pro.  The Mini 4 is usually priced around $100 cheaper than the Air 2, which makes it a great deal for those who want the latest and greatest Apple tablet but don't want to spend too much on it.  

The iPad Mini 2

The second iPad Mini was a major improvement over the original.  While the first Mini shared the same processor and graphics capability as the iPad 2, its direct successor was essentially a smaller iPad Air.  This makes it over four times more powerful than the tablet it replaced.

The iPad Mini 2 may be the perfect iPad for those who want to step into the world of tablets but don't have a lot to spend.  It's a fast tablet and one of the most affordable Apple has produced. Read the Review of the iPad Mini 2

Should I Buy the Original iPad Mini?

While Apple no longer offers the original Mini for sale, it is still possible to find them on eBay and Craigslist.  You can also find refurbished units for sale in some stores.  However, it is generally worth spending a little extra on an iPad Mini 2.   There is a big jump in technology between the first and second generation, and while the iPad Mini may huff and puff to keep up with the latest apps and operating system, the Mini 2 will perform well for years to come. 

Should I Buy an iPad Air Instead of an iPad Mini?

Except for size, the iPad Mini 2 and iPad Mini 4 now mimic the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 in features.  But does bigger mean better?  The size of the iPad Mini is actually very comfortable.  The difference between a 7-inch display and a 7.9-inch display sounds small, but it actually amounts to around 33% more real estate on the screen.   This allows the Mini to look great and still be operated with one hand.

But there's a reason why we generally want our screens to get bigger and bigger while everything else around us is getting smaller and smaller.  More screen real estate means it is easier to read and manipulate text and other objects on the screen.  This makes the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 a good tablet for productivity and playing higher end games.

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