First look: iPad mini

I had a few minutes to play around with the new iPad mini after Apple’s event this morning and wanted to give you a few quick thoughts.

Clearly I wasn’t able to really put the device through its paces, but I was wondering if the mini would be too small. Many of the people I’ve talked to leading up to this introduction that wanted a mini commute to work or school and found the original iPad a bit too big.

After listening to those concerns and seeing the iPad mini, I can certainly see how this would alleviate those problems. The iPad mini can easily be held with one hand for reading. Menus and other onscreen items can be reached with that hand if they are close. Of course, you can’t expect to be able to navigate the mini’s screen with one hand, but you can touch and scroll.

With two hands you can actually lay the mini in the palm of one hand while navigating with the other. The app icons are a decent size so there is no worry of accidentally hitting the wrong app.

The mini isn’t a fit-in-your-pocket device, but it’s a tablet not a smartphone. It will comfortably fit in a bag and is light enough that you won’t even know you’re carrying it.

I like what I saw, but now I need to see how it will fit into my lifestyle.

  • DigitalPoss

    Jim, I think there will be a lot of business applications too, where a smartphone is too small to give enough information efficiently, and the iPad was too big.

    The iPad mini should fit nicely into this slot.

  • Crazy as it may sound, I actually enjoy that my Nexus 7 fits in my back pocket. I’ve had several occassions where I needed to free my hand (without a bad around) and it slid right into my pants pocket (dress pants, surprisingly, and several blue jeans).

    Just an observation as I wonder how that may change things for me if I get a Mini.

    • Sasparilla2

      Interesting observation, it might be too wide.

      • Agreed.

      • But do people buy tablets based on whether or not they can fit them in some of their pockets? (That might be a nice niche area for Google to promote the Nexus 7, similar to Amazon promoting being able to read Kindles in sunlight.)

        I believe the ecosystem is more important. Which ever one you put money into is the one you’re most likely to stay with. (This poses a problem for Google if it’s true that most Android customers don’t spend alot of money on apps.)

        • Stefan

          As an SAS guy once said in a documentary about how to lie still in one spot for 3 days: “you do what you can when you can”. The variety of sizes and weights make for the best compromise in various places. An iPad is actually too big for a waitress, but an iPad mini probably ok. Books are fine on an iPad mini but some “glossy” magazines need retina displays. If you have a variety of devices you can take whichever one best suits what you want to do. Take a mini to the cafe, but if you’ll want to use OmniGraffle, take the iPad. So yes totally agree, it is the ecosystem that is the foundation for all this. Then you can pick and choose the device/s that suit your needs and bank balance.

    • rj

      I also have a Nexus 7, and I agree that the form factor is a winner. I’ve always found the full-size iPad to be too close in size to the MacBook Air, which for me is far and away the superior device.

      The mini looks great, but I did find the comparisons to the Nexus 7 a bit lame. To use an Applish phrase, the iPad mini is “65% more expensive” than the Nexus 7 (And that gap probably will further widen after Google’s upcoming Android event).

      With all that talk about relative display sizes, its worth pointing out that the Nexus 7 actually has a higher resolution display than the mini does.

      • steven75

        Of course the Nexus 7 also has roughly 98% less software optimized for it.

        • rj

          The iPad mini has lots of advantages. But I think that comparing it to a product in a different price category was weak. When BMW rolls out a new 3-series, they don’t spend a bunch of time talking about how much better it is than the Honda Accord.

          • Apple still needs to make a profit on the tablet and they do not make much from any of the media stores. Amazon & Google are selling their product at price because they want to sell you other media. Point being, they may look like different prices, but I bet they are actually closer than it looks. Don’t get me wrong, I think the iPad mini probably does cost more to make than the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD, but I bet it isn’t $129 more.

          • Adriano Geletes

            Do you have any proof of “they do not make much from any of the media stores”? You do know, that Amazon and Google have to sell it at this price, not because they are so FRIENDLY, but rather having any chance in the tablet market. 91% of web traffic comes from the iPad (see the keynote). They have paid over 6.5 billion dollars to app developers over last 5 years, that means, Apple made at least 5 billion dollars out of the App Store.

          • Adriano Geletes

            I’ve meant 3 billion dollars 😉

          • Perhaps because it’s not much (any?) better than an Accord.

            What I took away from the comparison, aside from surprise that Apple’s doing a direct comparison, was how everyone plays to their strengths. The iPad has more tablet-optimized apps, more physical display area (especially in landscape), and less chrome in the browser. We will see Google promote the lower price of the Nexus and how the 16:9 aspect ratio makes video larger.

            I don’t see why Apple doesn’t promote their more secure upgrade path. Nobody buys a phone or device to run a hypothetical future OS, but at least with an Apple device you can bet heavily that you can upgrade without your carrier’s permission and for free for at least a couple of years. Android? Hell, you’ll be lucky if the device you buy today runs a version that’s less than six months old.

          • Mark

            That wouldn’t be a great line to use against the Nexus 7, since Nexus devices have a much more reliable upgrade path than other Android devices.

          • Time will tell.

          • GeorgeS


            “The iPad mini has lots of advantages. But I think that comparing it to a product in a different price category was weak.”

            Except that is exactly what people will do in retail stores, like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, etc. Most people I know don’t care much about specs. They care about the look, the feel, and the experience, as well as the price. Yes, many Android tablets will be cheaper, but they will LOOK and FEEL cheaper, as well.

            The Android tablets are also not as sturdy. (Check the drop tests of the iPhone 5 vs the Galaxy SIII for a hint. The Galaxy’s screen and back tend to separate, as the polycarbonate case and the glass have very different flexibility.)

            I’ve asked several Galaxy S II and S III owners If, when they chose their phones, they had directly compared them to an iPhone, side-by-side. NONE of them had because the salesperson didn’t offer to show them an iPhone. I’ve had that experience, too–I had to ask to see an iPhone and the salesperson tried to talk me out of even looking at it, including telling me several lies. I would guess that he got more commission for selling a Samsung phone than an iPhone.

        • The majority don’t need to be optimized. Apple, obviously, took the worst of the bunch and showed those but most apps just work, especially games.

          • Steve__S

            Actually I believe Apple’s depiction of the state of Android apps on tablets was fairly accurate. You never think they need to be optimized until you see the iPad version. To your point, some apps are optimized and apps like games don’t matter as much. All the same, Android apps generally don’t stick up well compared to iPad apps. This is true even if it is the developers fault.

          • (traveling, apologies on the long delay in response)

            I wouldn’t say it is fairly accurate for the Nexus 7. They used it but carefully chose apps, which I could do on the iPad too (2X is an option for a reason; scaled up iPhone apps exist there as well, granted not as many), to illustrate their point.

            My point on optimizing is the 7″ form factor doesn’t always require a UI change. At times, it does and I agree on iPad comparisons. I was LIVID when I saw Bank of America on my iPad compared to my other Android tablets. lol.

            Optimization matters drastically on larger tablets but on 7″ it isn’t as major of a need, though still a need in many cases.

          • Steve__S

            John, yes I agree that you can find examples of where an iPad app needs to be optimized. However, I believe my point still stands that Apple wasn’t just hand picking here. The vast majority of commonly used apps between the two platforms looks much better on iOS. 275,000+ optimized tablet apps will do that. As previously discussed, things like games, etc. are exceptions as they have their own user interface. However, the differences still do exist. For example, something like Angry Birds will look the same, but something like SimCity has better controls on the tablet version that it does on the phone version.

            While I do agree that not optimizing for a 7″ display isn’t as bad as not optimizing for a 10″ display, the point still remains the same. More often than not, the iOS tablet applications will still look better than the equivalent Android app. At least that’s been my experience to date.

          • Agreed.

      • They definitely took a shot at the apps but that matters not in a purchase decision because it is the developers who should be ashamed. Android makes it possible, Google pushed it, and developers haven’t stepped up.

        The mini does look great. I doubt I’ll get one though. I’m stacked w/ tablets as-is.

        • What’s the point? No one buys android apps, they expect them to be free. People actually pay for quality iOS apps.

          • That’s an old talking point that is no longer true. Google the stats of paid apps and you will see.

      • Only 32% more expensive. The $199 Galaxy Nexus only has 8GB of storage, the 16GB is $249.

  • This is exactly the thing that I’ve always wanted.

    • “TechCrunch is working on it.”

      • HA! I meant, the iPad mini is what I’ve always wanted. That was my circa-2009 best guess at how it might turn out. Seems dumb now.

  • There will be a market for kids: smaller, lighter, easier to carry, using the same app ecosystem the parents (often) already use and has icons large enough for little fingers to tap.

    • Sasparilla2

      True all the parents who could afford iPads and want to get one for their kids…its here.

      • And parents who’ve purchased children’s Apps, Videos or Books on their iPad won’t have to re-purchase them on an iPad Mini.

  • Aaron

    How did you feel about the resolution? Did text seem okay, even having spent much of your time now looking at text on the Retina display of an iPhone?

    • Text looked great in the short time I used it.

    • GeorgeS


      The resolution (pixels per inch) is the same as the iPhone 3GS & 3rd generation iPod touch. It’s more dense than the iPad 2.

  • Sasparilla2

    I thought the iPad Mini looked really good, Apple executed well (assuming no issues). Frankly all the updates they did today just blew me away, they really hit it out of the park.

  • I still can’t figure out why I’d use an iPad mini vs. an iPhone 5. I have a 3rd-gen iPad that sits at home because it’s too big to bring with me when walking around. When I do walk around, the iPhone 5 works well. I don’t have much of a commute where I’m not the one driving, so what is the use case of an iPad mini? Is it simply for those with a passive commute (like a subway) and those who don’t want to spend money on the bigger iPad?

    • Xofis

      The niche here is reading. Better than a Kindle, small and light enough to read with one hand.

      • Barney

        6-7″-ish is indeed considered the sweetspot for readers. This being said, it’s hard to compete with E Ink and a dedicated reader at its own game. After all, that’s what a reader does best.

        There is some overlap between readers and 7″ tablets, but I suspect that people who love what each does best will own both and use them accordingly.

        So yes, there’s a niche for 7″ tablets, just not limited to reading only. I think it’s like the third bowl of porridge, just right: for the people for whom the 10″ iPad is too big and the 4″ smartphone too small (or who don’t use a smartphone). You get more elbow room than a smartphone and all the capabilities of larger tablets, without the weight and size.

    • GeorgeS


      Don’t be too blinded by your own situation. 100 million iPads have been sold, already. That’s 100 million different situations.

      Here’s a use that may have been overlooked, so far, for example. Physicians and nurses will find it easier to carry around the iPad mini than the full-sized iPad. So will kids and teens.

      One thing to remember is that a lot of iPads–or all kinds–will be sold in person, including (in the US) at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and at Verizon, ATT and, now, Sprint stores. These are places that also sell other tablets, especially the Samsung Galaxy series. (Wal-Mart and Target have both dropped the Kindle Fire.) People will be able to directly compare them, side by side. If the iPad mini looks, up close, as it appears, it will stand out from the others in fit and finish and apparent sturdiness. It will probably look and feel better. It does cost more, but not a lot more.

  • RandyCunningham

    $300 for the ipod touch $329 for the ipad mini $399 for the old ipad

    Muddy price points.

  • Gat Al

    The comparison with the android device was not to compare the physical size (only about 30+% bigger). In portrait mode, the iPad mini was 50+% more content on screen and in portrait mode, it was 60+% more content on screen. the comparison (super duper wuper!) exercise was all about the experience, not the size. will I be getting an iPad mini? You bet!

    If you have the time, please visit for the full video presentation. cya!

  • Thought I’d drop in that I did like the comparison of reading on a 16:9 device vs. the iPad’s 4:3. I prefer the 4:3 form since when I read I want as much shown as possible and for it to feel comfortable. The 16:9 format just feel cramped to me. As for video, I don’t mind “black bars” and with properly encoded video you really don’t see a difference in HD until you get about a 32″ screen. (I think. I have to recheck my research on that from when I was buying a television.)

    I was hoping they would come in at under $300 — either $269 or $299 — but I think $329 is fine. I was considering a tablet for a Christmas gift for my S.O., and the iPad Mini is definitely in the running. (The Kindle Fire is out since it won’t work in her country, and we’ve got several until well into next year before the visa work is finished for her to be here in the States permanently.)

    • Great point about the countries.

      On the 16:9 reading you get more on screen in portrait than 4:3, if they are the same size device.

  • Adriano Geletes

    Apple did a very good job to keep up the price and not to follow their competitor (to me, Amazon and Google aren’t competitors at all, because to make no money out of devices is not a sign of being competitive, it’s the only way to survive on the tablet market. And by the way, what do the engineers think about these prices? Is it a good sign to sell their hard work at the lowest possible price?).

    I still don’t get, why people want everything for free or as cheap as possible? If I want to have a high quality product, I have to pay for it, if I want to have access to a huge App Store, I have to pay for it and if I want to have the best apps, I have to pay for it, because people are working really hard to get you all of it for a actually really low low low price. I remember buying my first Compaq PC back in the 90’s and it cost me equalling to todays price in Euros 2500€ for low-end PC. And because of these idiots from Amazon and Google, everyone expects these low-level prices. If I want an Audi oder BMW, I have to pay for it. If everything should be for free or as cheap as possible, who will benefit from that?

    I am willing to pay the 329$/€ for an iPad mini, but keep waiting for the Retina display, because once you have used it, you never go back.

    The only thing I’m curious about is the competition within Apple: iPad mini vs. iPad. Is the iPad mini going to cannibalise market share of the iPad?

    The black version of the iPad mini looks awesome. I have to get my hands on this device.

  • Is this really targeted at education? Might something akin to this thing become some kind of Magic Slate-type device and replace the 16-pound backpack that schoolkids carry over one shoulder? It can become the universal textbook, it can graph complex mathematical functions, it messages, and it’s a great dessert topping.

  • SV650

    I wonder if the WiFi + Cellular model might replace my aging iPhone 3GS. As I mostly use it for data, rather than phone calls, it coupled with a VOIP service and / or Pay n Talk phones, could be a cheap solution for travel in either Canada or the USA.

  • The iPad mini is perfect for me, it will replace my iPad 2, because I usually don’t carry the big thing with me. But I’ll certainly carry the mini everywhere!

  • stefn

    Love the commenters who know more than Apple does about its business. Obviously they mistake Apple for Amazon, Google, or Microsoft, none of whom know how to make dollar number 1 off of hardware in this arena. (Unless you believe they choose to lose money.) Please, they could really use the free advice. Apple does not do panic pricing. What the Mini price does quite nicely is cap what Amazon can raise it prices to. And since Amazon makes almost nothing off its hardware, that’s not good news for Jeff Bezos or Fire fans. Amazon’s business model (price low, take market share, and make it up on ebooks later on) leaves no money or motive for investing in anything but cheap hardware or software. Cheap in both senses of the word.Google leaves it up to the manufacturers to come up with quality. Bad idea. Of the 4,000 distinct Android models produced in just four years, I’m guessing there’s a 90 percent failure rate. If so, that’s more than 2 per day.If the Mini price isn’t what I wished nor are the spex, it means more features and technology were too expensive (retina display, for sure) even for Apple’s pricing profile. I can live with that. I’m guessing the price will drop in six months once the “me got it first” tax is pulled. And I really don’t want Apple dumpster diving for market share.

  • lkalliance

    I’ll be interested in seeing and holding one. I’ve played with iPads at the Apple Store but never really been enthused to get one. Oddly enough the Mini has stirred my interest more. I’ve been pondering this, and why the Mini should and the full iPad shouldn’t. I think this is the psychology, as it applies to me:

    I look at the Mini and I do not expect it to replace my desktop. I am more ready to accept it as an additional device.

    I don’t currently have a laptop, and I’ve looked at the iPad as a potential desktop replacement. Sell the desktop, just go with an iPad. I could almost get away with it, except for all the photo editing I do, and all the attached storage. And when I’m out-and-about I’ve got my iPhone, which handles so much already.

    Occasionally I wish I had a device with a larger screen. And at $170 less…smaller and lighter…maybe…

  • aramari

    It’s worth noting that the iPad Mini is actually slightly less wide than the Kindle Fire ( 134mm to 137mm), thanks to the thin side bezel on the iPad Mini. So if you can fit the Fire into your pocket, you definitely can do the same with the iPad Mini!

    It’s also much lighter – 308g to 395g and much thinner: 7.2mm to 10.3mm

    Yet it has so much more screen size?

    Sounds pretty good to me!

  • Michael

    I think it´s good that apple changed their way they approached the design of their new products. They started listening to consumer expectations although they free to sell whatever they like, because they lead all the time without listening. People want the new iPad Mini especially the smaller size and the new look. They wanted to be able to work while standing up waiting for the bus or walking down the street. In my opinion the iPad Mini will be a great success and for sure a greater success than the old iPads because of the above mentioned “open ear for the costumers”.

  • james bond

    The iPad mini has the specs of the iphone 4s & iPad 2. Although its not too big like the ipad and not too small like the iphone. its just right.