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Apple iPad mini review: First impressions

We get hands on with the pocket-friendly 7.9in device, which is essentially a cutdown version of the iPad 2.

It's uber thin and light. That's the first thing which will strike you about the iPad mini. And considering the screen size is still a reasonably large 7.9in, this is an impressive engineering feat.

Apple iPad mini

Weighing in at 308g for the Wi-Fi only edition and at just 7.2mm thick, the device is easy to hold with one hand although the display is wide so finding a grip with which you are comfortable with could take some doing.

Apple iPad mini - Thickness

I was surprised that the majority of the iPad mini managed to squeezed into a normal sized chino pocket with just the tip sticking out. This greatly improves the portability compared to the size of the original sized iPad, which you would have to carry around separately or put in a bag.

Apple iPad mini - Pocket

Other than the size and the weight the device is pretty much identical to the iPad 2. It's got the same 1024 x 768 resolution display as the second generation device, although the pixel density is higher because of the smaller scree (163pp). However, this doesn't provide the clarity that some users may have become accustomed to with the introduction of the Retina Display (264ppi) and so it will feel like a step backwards. Alas, pixels are quite noticeable when you zoom in, but on the plus side it is bright.

Apple hasn't changed the aspect ratio so all the iPad-optimised apps will scale to fit. However, this also means that the dreaded black bars are still be present when you are watching videos which really feels like a waste of space.

Apple iPad mini - Video

When it comes to design, this iteration of the iPad looks and feels well built. The screen is secured tightly against the bezel and the device does feel of premium quality when compared to other recently launched counterparts such as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. However, it retains the fragility of Apple products - so a cover remains a necessity and I'd be afraid to drop it, even from small heights.

We haven't had a chance to put the device through its paces in terms of battery life but we fully expect it to be up there with previous generation devices and will report back on our findings.

So what do we think?

Verdict

First impressions are positive – the mini is ultra portable and feels great to hold – BUT it is £110 more than the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD, which both pack a HD screen.

I'm not entirely convinced that the iPad mini is a must-have purchase if you already have a 9.7in iPad 2 or beyong. It also remains to be seen whether the mini provides better value than its 7in rivals. We’ll be on hand to give you some more detailed thoughts in the full review.

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