For many, the Apple iPad mini has long labored in the shadow of the iPad Air lineup and now the iPad Pro tablets – ia smaller tablet that many people considered and chose only because it was cheaper than those large and pricier devices.
But with the mini 4, Apple has set out to change that. It’s kicked out the chocks to craft a little tablet so powerful and which shares so much with the larger iPad Air 2 that it doesn’t give away very much in terms of features, specifications, and overall desirability. It can definitely hold its own.
Read our review of the Apple iPad mini 4 to find out exactly what we mean!
During the mini 4’s introduction in September 2015, Apple SVP of marketing Phil Schiller said, “We’ve taken the power and performance of iPad Air 2 and built it into an even smaller mini enclosure.”
That in a nutshell is exactly what the mini 4 is all about. The mini 4 incorporates many key features that it either shares with its larger sibling or which bring it to near parity with it.
For one, the mini 4 sports a beautiful, sharp display that, among other things, is fully laminated and has a new anti-reflective coating. Users can now enjoy the same floating-on-glass effect that they do with their iPhones and other high-end smartphones, for the first time in an iPad mini – which easily ramps up the mini 4’s desirability several notches.
In terms of performance, too, the mini 4 approximates that of the Air 2 – but doesn’t quite equal it. Apple’s 64-bit A8 processor is the heart of the mini 4. It’s definitely more powerful than the one in the iPad mini 3 (according to Apple, approximately 30 percent more powerful), and it really shows.
We put our test mini 4 through its paces and we were suitably impressed. For one, we found that apps started up faster than in older test iPad minis. Game performance is considerably improved too; every single game we played experienced zero lag whatsoever. Split-screen multitasking is far more adroit and straightforward than before, although this feature doesn’t impress as much as it does in Apple’s larger tablets.
It’s also quite the achievement that regarding battery life, too, the mini 4 is on top of its game – especially considerable given that the mini 4 rocks a faster processor than any iPad mini, and so on. Apple says it can provide 10 hours of steady use before the battery conks out, a claim which we were able to verify more than once.
And the camera’s also impressive, too – now up to 8MP in the mini 4. We put it through its paces in different situations (indoor, outdoor, in brightly lit and dark scenarios, and so on) and we found photo quality to be basically on par with those taken by the Air 2.
Same old, same old
While the mini 4 embodies some groundbreaking changes to the mini lineup, there’s also quite a bit that hasn’t changed in the transition from mini 3 to mini 4.
For one, the metal and glass premium-level construction and style Apple is known for, and which continues to be one of the major selling points of the mini lineup as a whole, is still a key characteristic of the mini 4 itself. As a matter of fact, the external hardware appears so little changed between the generations that users might be forgiven for confusing one with another.
There is, however, one very slight change external hardware-wise: the mini 4 eschews the orientation lock/mute switch that used to live on the side of the mini. Those features can be accessed via Control Center now.
Other trademark iPad mini design elements – most notably, chamfered edges – still take pride of place in the mini 4, a couple of generations after Apple dropped them from the iPhone lineup.
But those longstanding design elements only underscore how much Apple has changed with the mini 4, and, more importantly, showcase its excellence vis-a-vis the model it replaces.
The bottom line
For the iPad mini’s fourth iteration, Apple was happy to transform the iPad mini into a device that is nearly the iPad Air 2’s technological equivalent, albeit one with a smaller screen and overall footprint.
Consequently, this makes it an excellent tablet for those who crave the power and features of the Air 2 in a smaller package. And even though the Air 2 has been eclipsed at the top by the two iPads Pro, this still takes nothing away from the iPad mini 4’s excellence.
The iPad mini 4 might be just what you need if you’re after a small tablet that packs plenty of heat despite its little footprint, and has the firepower you desire for work and leisure.