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

Battery Life

Despite its third-place finish in our Web browsing battery life test (at maximum brightness), we're a little underwhelmed. Yes, the iPad mini edges out larger tablets with bigger batteries and more power-hungry displays, but just barely. It only gives you nine more minutes of run time than the iPad 2, well within a margin of error. More important is that Apple's 7.9" tablet trails the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD by more than an hour.

In absolute terms, the iPad mini performs better in our movie playback test, delivering close to eight hours of battery life. That's almost two hours more than the Kindle Fire HD. Google's Nexus 7 still reigns supreme in this test, though, delivering nearly ten hours of run time. It's a little counter-intuitive that the iPad 2 offers better battery life than the mini, but the delta between them is significant.

Normalized Brightness Benchmarks (Background Info)

With all of our tablets calibrated to 200 nits, the iPad mini doesn't do as poorly compared to Google's Nexus 7 in the Web browsing test, though it suddenly finds itself behind the iPad 2 and third-gen iPad, neither of which are losing battery life as quickly to a display operating at maximum brightness. Amazon's Kindle Fire HD takes first place in this one, though.

Google's Nexus 7 remains very close to the iPad mini, just as it was in the previous chart. But the Kindle Fire HD gets bested by more than an hour in our video playback metric. It was blown out at maximum brightness, too.

Epic's Citadel is one of the more popular titles for iOS because it's based on the same code used in Infinity Blade. Much like 3DMark, Citadel loops a sequence through the app's landscape. But even as it serves up a modest graphics workload, Citadel is a tech demo, so we have to take its outcome in context.

Riptide is perhaps more appropriate for benchmarking battery life in a 3D environment because it's a real-world game. The title enters into demo mode whenever it sits idle on the home screen. According to Vector, Riptide's developer, textures are dynamically rendered during the demo, resulting in a continuous workload.

It's a little surprising to see the iPad mini match the iPad 2's battery life since the latter enjoys a larger power source. More impressively, the iPad mini trounces its competition in this test; the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD show up at the opposite end of the chart.

  • Hellbound
    The iPad mini is overpriced.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • hardcore_gamer
    I'm waiting for a 7 inch version of surface. It is the only productive tablet out there.
    Reply
  • _Pez_
    Those devices are a JOKE !
    Reply
  • mikenygmail
    iPricey
    Reply
  • Darkerson
    Overpriced, but thats not really a surprise, since its an apple product. Sadly, people are eating them up regardless.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Tomtompiper
    This is a blatant rip off of the Samsung Tab, I hope Samsung sue their ass off :kaola:
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • godnodog
    The screen in tablets are too big, i want something with 1 or 2"!!!
    Reply