In October 2018, Apple unveiled the new iPad Pro. It was the most radical overhaul of the iPad, Apple’s tablet that has dominated this category almost since its arrival in 2010. Smartphone displays have got bigger over the last few years and have almost pushed tabs to extinction. Not the iPad though. Apple’s complex iPad portfolio includes the basic iPad, a refreshed iPad Air, the new iPad Pro that’s positioned as a powerful laptop alternative and the iPad Mini. The 2019 iteration of the Mini is it’s fifth since 2012. Is this diminutive tab still relevant at a time when our large smartphone displays have become the dominant screens in our lives?
The 2018 iPad Pro ditched those bezels and the home key with an immersive display and Face ID, just like the iPhone XS. The 2019 Mini might have arrived almost six months later but makes no such changes. This one is impossible to tell from the iPad Mini 4 which was impossible to tell from its predecessor. The thick bezels stay and so does the home key that many iPhone die-hards still miss. And yet there’s still a lot to like about the new iPad Mini that opts for the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ design philosophy. It’s just 6mm thick – that’s thinner than the iPhone XS, and weighs 300 gms. It’s perfect to hold up for long periods of time as you flip through pages of a graphic novel or an e-book.
The 7.9-inch (1536 x 2048 pixels / 324 PPI) display packs vibrant colours and we’re fans of the True Tone display that adjusts its colour temperature based on ambient light. The 4:3 aspect ratio of the display is ideal for books while the stereo speakers add to its appeal as a device for video consumption. If you don’t mind snapping images with a tablet, the iPad Mini allows you to capture decent images in optimal lighting with its 8MP rear shooter. The Selfie cam gets a major bump up from the 1.2MP camera in the fourth gen Mini; this one’s a 7MP front cam.
If you’d like some extra screen real estate for gaming and find the larger iPads slightly unwieldy, Apple’s latest A12 bionic processor gives the Mini some serious firepower. It blazed through our multitasking tests and totally aced Asphalt 9. The new processor is one of the major upgrades in this device and teams up with 3GB of RAM. You can choose from 64GB and 256GB storage options.
My favourite feature in the new iPad Mini has to be Apple Pencil support. You can take notes or doodle at a meeting with the new Mini as long as you have the first generation Apple Pencil (sold separately). Yes, the same Apple Pencil where you need to cling to the cap of the pencil each time you charge it. Agreed, it’s not as easy to carry around as the latest Apple Pencil that sticks to the iPad Pro but it just feels so much more natural using a Pencil on a smaller iPad. You almost wonder why Apple didn’t add Apple Pencil support to the Mini earlier.
Every time I review a larger iPad or use one, I always end up unsure about its capabilities as a productivity device or a device that allows you to craft Content. The Mini has always been easier to evaluate. This is a Content consumption device and is for you if you need a device that’s easy to cart around – you can even stuff it into some of your trousers with deep pockets. It’s perfect for media consumption and to flip through your work emails. The on-screen keyboard (try ‘split’ mode for even greater speed) works really well to type long emails or short word documents. You do have the option of adding a Bluetooth keyboard but the cramped size isn’t ideal for extended typing. If this is all you need your tab for, don’t look beyond the iPad Mini. Of course, there are not too many options even if you choose to. That’s probably the iPad Mini’s biggest draw – it’s the best small-screen tablet out there and gets an extra boost with a new processor and Apple Pencil support.
The 64GB version of the iPad Mini costs Rs 34,900 (wi-fi) / Rs 48,900 (Wi-fi + cellular) while the 256GB variant is priced at Rs 45,900 (Wi-fi) / Rs 59,900 (Wi-fi + cellular). The Apple Pencil costs Rs 8,500/-