Apple iPad Mini Review: Our New Favorite Size, But...That Price?

Apple's A5 SoC: Familiar CPU And Graphics Performance

The A5 SoC inside Apple's iPad mini isn’t new to us. We discussed it in quite a bit of depth last year in Apple's iPad 2 Review: Tom's Goes Down The Tablet Rabbit Hole. In short, though, this is still a 1 GHz dual-core Cortex-A9-based chip complemented by a dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU. Memory capacity is no different; the CPU and GPU share 512 MB of LPDDR2-800.

Almost two years have passed since Apple started using the A5, though. It was originally manufactured at 45 nm, but emerged as a 32 nm SoC earlier this year. You can call it a second-generation A5, but nothing changes performance-wise. As you can see in the benchmarks below, pre-2012 iPad 2 performs comparably to the iPad mini. Even graphics performance looks the same, since both tablets employ the same 1024x768 resolution.

45 nm A5 vs 32 nm A5 (Source: Chipworks)45 nm A5 vs 32 nm A5 (Source: Chipworks)

In addition to the revised iPad 2 and iPad Mini, Apple's die-shrunk A5 is also found in the fifth-gen iPod Touch and third-gen Apple TV.

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  • Hellbound
    The iPad mini is overpriced.
  • azathoth
    While the device is certainly nice, I don't like the fact that it has no support for MicroSD, and I would be unable to tinker around with it as I can for an Android based device.

    ...And the price. I'm not going to give a second thought when I see a $200 tablet with removable storage versus $330 for 16GB of internal storage and no expansion options.

    If the device was closer to say $260 for the 32GB version, or just included an option for removable storage... Then I would certainly see the iPad mini as being a viable option even for someone used to Android.

    The main factors (in my opinion) for a great device are,
    1: A good quality screen, it needs to have vibrant, accurate colours.
    2: Even if during benchmarks the device is slow, if it FEELS snappy and quick, that's all that counts.
    3: Removable storage for god sake, I know by practice apple enjoys their closed system, but COME ON!
    4: It doesn't need to have some amazing 15 hour battery life, but I certainly don't want it to die on a full charge after a movie and a few youtube videos.
  • hardcore_gamer
    I'm waiting for a 7 inch version of surface. It is the only productive tablet out there.
  • _Pez_
    Those devices are a JOKE !
  • mikenygmail
    iPricey
  • Darkerson
    Overpriced, but thats not really a surprise, since its an apple product. Sadly, people are eating them up regardless.
  • shikamaru31789
    It's definitely overpriced, but I've come to expect that with Apple, you're mostly paying for a name and some unique styling with them. It has some features going for it, but I wouldn't buy one, not when there are several cheaper options in the mini tablet lineup. That's not stopping the legions of Apple sheep from buying it though.
  • Tomtompiper
    This is a blatant rip off of the Samsung Tab, I hope Samsung sue their ass off :kaola:
  • Jigo
    AzathothWhile the device is certainly nice, I don't like the fact that it has no support for MicroSD, and I would be unable to tinker around with it as I can for an Android based device....And the price. I'm not going to give a second thought when I see a $200 tablet with removable storage versus $330 for 16GB of internal storage and no expansion options.If the device was closer to say $260 for the 32GB version, or just included an option for removable storage... Then I would certainly see the iPad mini as being a viable option even for someone used to Android.The main factors (in my opinion) for a great device are, 1: A good quality screen, it needs to have vibrant, accurate colours.2: Even if during benchmarks the device is slow, if it FEELS snappy and quick, that's all that counts.3: Removable storage for god sake, I know by practice apple enjoys their closed system, but COME ON!4: It doesn't need to have some amazing 15 hour battery life, but I certainly don't want it to die on a full charge after a movie and a few youtube videos.


    you're right
    I'm glad that i bought the Nexus7. 16GB is enough, and rootet i can plug in external device. And as for all my techy stuff, i doubt i've to send it in before the 2y warranty expires
  • godnodog
    The screen in tablets are too big, i want something with 1 or 2"!!!
  • house70
    TomtompiperThis is a blatant rip off of the Samsung Tab, I hope Samsung sue their ass off

    You mean, the Galaxy Tab 7.7. But yes, they should sue Apple fir design infringement.
  • Star72
    I'm sure it is a nice piece of tech, but it is more than I would want to pay for a small tablet from any maker.
  • I think that the price of the iPad Mini is justified with how amazingly it runs! The iPad Mini is a great option with an incredible processor speed, as my coworker at DISH likes to tell me about, and it deserves the price it has. With how great it works, it is also very light and smaller and makes it incredibly easy to watch TV streamed to the DISH Remote Access app with the Sling Adapter hooked up to my receiver. I really don’t mind the price, especially for these great features!
  • Augray37
    i believe you mean "micro-usb" in the sentence "...but we have to admit preferring mini-USB for its ubiquity across the other tablets we use." sorry, i work at radioshack :)
  • cirdecus
    I think the attractive thing about the iPad is the form factor. The dimensions, large screen and weight are absolutely perfect compared to the Nexus 7 and Kindle. Other clever software features, like being able to notice when your palm is holding the side of the screen, vs actually trying to use touch input is the perfect thing for a tablet of this size to keep the screen real estate large.

    The apps are phenomenal and far more abundant than any competitor as well.

    But as I've said, the problems are:

    1) Price is way to high
    2) Screen quality (Would NOT be an issue if the price wasn't stupidly high. If we're paying $130 more for a tablet, we atl east want retinta.)
    3) No storage expansion. I understand that storage is being used to "tier" these things like consoles are doing, but its pretty silly not to all for a simple SD expansion.

    Unlike a lot of younger techies, I don't feel that the closed environment or the lack of "customization" is really a flaw. Most individuals don't want to spend a lot of time tinkering around with their tablet. They just want to use it or accomplish a task with it. To most adults, its more of a tool to get a job done that a toy to be tinkered with constantly. I'm ok with leaving the device alone and simply reading, listening to music or watching movies on a plane.
  • bustapr
    no love for the nook hd :(

    its got almost the same specs as the kindle, an sd card slot, and a better screen(1440x900). similar price too.
  • calcappone
    The one thing everyone has to realize is that, yeah it is overpriced but not compared to the iPad. Android is my OS of choice but Android lacks the support that Apple products has. iDevices have better apps and better games. I love Android but until it get the support level iDevices have then it will always play "second fiddle"
  • engrcat
    I think the target market for this flavor of iPad are women, who can still have a fashionable Apple device that fits in their purses (yes they all have more than one). Also the Apple accessory market is very strong with fashion labels supplying attractive and functional cases for them. I did a one sample study in my household to obtain that information and I am $429 poorer because of it lol. Good thing she got a chinese case from newegg.
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer
    Pssht everyone knows the Archos GamePad is where it's at. :p
  • traumadisaster
    Just purchased our first tablet for my wife (i have a galaxy note phablet). Ipad 1 for $200 on ebay and the screen is fine for me, im surprised from reviews the screen didnt look like sd tv. especially my wife would never know hd. I found it to be heavy and unweildly. I think you just have to say thats what they cost and get over it, im not fighting android os anymore. And im not asking my wife to learn a new os to save $130. Granted she doesnt need extra storage or want to root. Me on the other hand i will get a note3 next year that way i wont need a tablet too.
  • house70
    CirdecusI think the attractive thing about the iPad is the form factor. The dimensions, large screen and weight are absolutely perfect compared to the Nexus 7 and Kindle. Other clever software features, like being able to notice when your palm is holding the side of the screen, vs actually trying to use touch input is the perfect thing for a tablet of this size to keep the screen real estate large.The apps are phenomenal and far more abundant than any competitor as well.But as I've said, the problems are:1) Price is way to high2) Screen quality (Would NOT be an issue if the price wasn't stupidly high. If we're paying $130 more for a tablet, we atl east want retinta.)3) No storage expansion. I understand that storage is being used to "tier" these things like consoles are doing, but its pretty silly not to all for a simple SD expansion.Unlike a lot of younger techies, I don't feel that the closed environment or the lack of "customization" is really a flaw. Most individuals don't want to spend a lot of time tinkering around with their tablet. They just want to use it or accomplish a task with it. To most adults, its more of a tool to get a job done that a toy to be tinkered with constantly. I'm ok with leaving the device alone and simply reading, listening to music or watching movies on a plane.

    You described a Nexus 10. It is cheaper than the full size iPad, had a better screen and is perfectly usable with/without customization, as you prefer. I still have to encounter an app that would not run on it, and Google Play is as vast as AppStore with regards of sheer number of apps.

    OTOH, if you're already heavily invested in iOS apps, makes no sense to switch, even it did save you money. To each his/her own.
  • pacomac
    Why is a new article like this not comparing to the latest iPad 4 instead of the 3rd generation?
  • twelve25
    If you already have a collection of apps and a large itunes library, $130 can be a small price to pay to not have to start over. I think it will appeal to the large Apple iOS base, but not to people coming from android or buying their first tablet.
  • chumly
    Do your eyes agree with your benchmarks? The colors do NOT look deeper on the top pictures. They look OVERSATURATED. Note on both the purple and the blue, you cannot see the distinguishing features of the flower pedals. It's like an over exposed picture from a camera. Color bleeding is not acceptable.