I know, such an unoriginal title, but its the truth!
The iPad mini seems to be causing a fair bit of animated discussion as people spend time getting their head around it and where it fits in.
Understandably, it is being compared to the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD. The main points coming out against it are:
- It doesn’t have a retina screen
- It is too big
- It is too expensive
It doesn’t have a retina screen
All the signs currently point to it not being possible at this point in time for Apple to make a retina screen on a tablet this size while still retaining the desired levels of battery performance, weight and profit. Remember, the iPad 4 is still thicker and heavier than the iPad 2. That flies in the face of Apple’s normal strategy of increasing thinness with each generation. The retina screen must be a real beast to implement. If you can show me a 7.9″ tablet which achieves all of the above (remember folks, profit matters), speak up.
Also, since the resolution is the same as that of the iPad 2, but is used on a smaller screen, the PPI (Pixels Per Inch) increases, so the screen actually looks better than the iPad 2 – great news for those who never made the retina upgrade on iPads (like me).
It is too big
I think apps speak volumes here. The app experience on the iPad mini is going to be a world apart from that of Android. I own a Nexus 7 and in my opinion the iOS apps are infinitely better. Their design, polish and usability all exceed the boring and inconsistent app experiences on Android. By sizing the iPad mini at 7.9″, not only does it get to keep the same resolution (so all iPad apps instantly work), but it prevents any ‘enlarged iPhone apps’ from making a prominent experience, like they do on Android. By reducing the width of the side bezels, Apple has managed to get a significantly larger screen onto an tablet that is only marginally wider than the Nexus 7.
For me, I just find the 7″ screen too close to a phone screen, in terms of the uses it lends itself towards. There’s nothing I can do with it that I can’t easily do on my iPhone.
Its too expensive
This is an easy one, and it is a core aspect of Apple’s strategy. They don’t compete on price. Just read that again… Apple. don’t. compete. on. price.
Ok fine, obviously they aren’t plucking numbers out of thin air without a consideration of the competition, but Apple willingly and knowingly sell at a premium price for their premium products, and people are happy to pay. Value is more than how much something costs, it is what that thing does, and how it does it. As one writer asked, if you were offered between a Kindle Fire HD, Nexus 7 and iPad mini for free, which would you choose? Apple compete on quality. If you just want to buy the cheapest tablet out there that does ‘the most stuff’, you aren’t really in Apple’s target demographic. They aim to sell to people who don’t mind spending that extra bit of cash to get a significantly better overall experience. Its a very subtle thing to put a value on and a lot of techies don’t get it – they don’t appreciate design and user experience so they just see it as expensive. I think this misses the point, which is really inexcusable now we’ve seen success after success of iOS devices being sold in this way.
So what do I think of it?
I think it is how I always pictured tablets to be. Wafer thin screens you could pick up and do anything with. The iPad got that right from a UI and software perspective, but was just a bit too large to have brief, portable encounters with. I believe the iPad mini will hit a sweet spot between size and functionality.
I love that it has the same 10 hour battery life of the iPad. I love that it runs iPad apps, and I love that it has the usual Apple-level build quality. Most importantly, I love that I’ll be able to carry it around with me finally, bringing to my lifestyle for the first time, a true post-PC portable device.
As you can tell, I’m fairly optimistic. Mine won’t arrive until “late November”, so it will be some time before I can put it to the test and see if it lives up to my expectations.