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.