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Apple iPad mini 2 with Retina display review

Verdict

Apple upgrades its iPad mini with a top-notch Retina display and a super-charged new processor – the result is a superb, if pricey, compact tablet

Review Date: 17 Jan 2014

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £266 (£319 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £259
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

After the fanfare that heralded the new iPad Air, Apple was rather less effusive about the new, upgraded edition of its compact tablet – the iPad mini with Retina display. Yet, while it shares the same body as last year’s model (which remains on sale at the lower price of £249), there’s plenty to get excited about. See also the 11 best tablets of 2014

Apple hasn’t only upgraded it to a crisp Retina display, it’s also swapped in the new 64-bit Apple A7 processor found in the Air, and ushered in a wave of more subtle all-round upgrades.

The design

Apple iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display

From a distance, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish the new model from the old. The silver model retains the classic light-grey rear and white screen surround, while the black model has been supplanted with a lighter – but not dramatically different – Space Grey version. Whichever you choose, every curve and button remain intact, and in exactly the same place as before.

As ever, the iPad mini is beautifully put together. The metal casing is super-stiff, and remains taut and flex-free even when subjected to the most vicious attempts to twist it out of shape. Compared to the plasticky body of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX 7in, or even the more compact, matte plastic finish of Google’s Nexus 7, the iPad mini remains a cut above.

Place the two generations of iPad mini side by side, however, and it’s possible to note that the new model is just a hair thicker – 7.5mm to the previous model’s 7.2mm. It’s put on a few grams, too, with the Wi-Fi model weighing 331g, and the 4G model, 341g; last year’s Wi-Fi-equipped iPad Mini weighed 308g, and the 3G model was 312g.

The display

Apple iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display

It’s all change beneath the iPad mini’s familiar brushed-metal body. Apple has replaced the 768 x 1,024 display of the previous model for a 1,536 x 2,048 panel, and it’s a very welcome sight. You can wave goodbye to the slightly rough, pixellated look of the original iPad mini. Cramming such a high resolution into a 7.9in panel makes for a crystal-clear pixel density of 326ppi. For reference, that’s just a smidgen higher than the 323ppi, 1,920 x 1,200 display of the Nexus 7.
Brightness and contrast isn’t quite up with the best tablets we’ve seen, but the maximum brightness of 396cd/m2 and contrast ratio of 792:1 are perfectly respectable results. More crucially, though, Apple has done more than simply pack in four times the pixels; the panel is now more colour-accurate, too.

Indeed, where previous generations of the iPad – both big and small – have tended to crush dark greys into black (to achieve a more punchy, high-contrast image), the iPad mini’s Retina display now dredges up both the lightest and darkest of tones, with no compression at either end of the scale. The colour temperature is now just short of a perfect 6,500K, where the previous model measured a slightly warmer, ruddier 6,176K. As a result, images look noticeably more natural; skin tones are reproduced in a more realistic fashion; and black-and-white images are completely tint-free. The only issue is that colour reproduction isn’t as rich and punchy as on the iPad Air.

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User comments

Awards?

So the 'finest compact tablet out there' neither makes the A-List nor receives a Recommended Award?

Gosh, I hope you've bought your tin hat today!

By sprainedmind on 20 Jan 2014

How can you give the new mini 7 a recommended award when its over £100 more expensive than the Nexus 7 and significantly more than that for the Kindle and other 7" tablets and as for longer lasting, really, 12 months and it'll be replaced, two years and it won't work with the latest and greatest IOS version. I think for £80 extra I would go for a full size Air.

By Jonchill on 20 Jan 2014

iPad 2 still working well after nearly 3 years

Well I have an iPad 2 bought nearly 3 years ago. It runs the latest OS and works as well as when it was new. Longevity is probably the main advantage with iPads. Of course many Android tablets are otherwise potentially better value.

By AdamD6 on 20 Jan 2014

Breaking news

Apple device good but expensive....

By colin52 on 20 Jan 2014

Still, it's only Apple.

No HDMI ? No flash? No external memory ?

By Kriskret on 23 Jan 2014

@Kriskret

HDMI? Flash? External storage? You don't need any of those technical wassamagigums. Cos Jobs said so.

By TheHonestTruth on 23 Jan 2014

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