Discussion about
peter

November 8th 2012 1:40 pm

Why I'm not buying an iPad mini

I'm not sure I want to get into the habit of always writing about why I'm not buying something, but since a few people have asked -- and since I wrote something similar about the Nexus 7 (gdgt.com­/discuss­/why­-i­-m­-probably­-not­-buying­-a­-nex...) -- I thought I'd share why I'm not buying an iPad mini.

It boils down to one reason: the screen. At 163 PPI, it's just not good enough.

Now, I may have felt differently if I didn't already own a Retina iPad (PPI = 264), but the screen on the iPad mini seems like a step backwards to me. I'm sure plenty of you feel that the increased portability of a smaller tablet (whether the iPad mini or the Nexus 7 or whatever) more than offsets the lower pixel density -- and I completely respect that preference -- but it's not a trade-off I'm willing to make right now.

Why? Well, you when you compare the iPad mini and the Retina iPad, you can immediately see the difference in how text is rendered. I read a lot on my tablet, and so I care a lot about how crisp text looks. (It's one big reason why I tend to use an e-ink reader for books.)

I am definitely a fan of smaller tablets (I had an original 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab back in the day and liked it despite its flaws), but since my tablet needs are being adequately satisfied by what I already have, I'm comfortable with holding out for something with a higher resolution display. This doesn't seem especially hard to do since I have little doubt we'll see a whole slew of smaller tablets with higher resolutions beginning early next year. Even if we don't see an iPad mini with a Retina display until next October, we'll surely see a bunch of seven-inch Android models with better pixel density. The recently-launched 7-inch Nook HD sports a screen resolution of 900 x 1440 (PPI = 243), and it's hard to imagine it'll take long for someone to get there (or better) with a tablet running full-blown Android.

Is the iPad mini a great device? Absolutely, and it merits the high gdgt score we've given it. But for me personally, it doesn't feel like the right time to buy one. Perhaps if I didn't already own a tablet and an e-ink reader I might be less inclined to wait, but this really feels to me like one of those times when what I want is just over the horizon.

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29 replies
donnyb

Only reason why I didn't buy a iPad Mini was the lack of retina display.
4 like dislike
svenkat24

Yes, this is exactly the same reason why I bought it and then sold it to my friend. The difference between retina display and iPad mini's display is too huge to ignore.

iPad mini with Retina display would have been dope. I was willing to give up my 3rd gen iPad if iPad mini had retina display. I guess I will have to wait.
1 like dislike
alexhoward

I have a retina iPad and played with it a bit in store and thought it was fine. However, I already have a retina iPad and have absolutely no reason to want a smaller one. I've got an iPad and an iPhone. I think most people who already have a tablet of any sort aren't going to be interested in buying a different sized one. I think the iPad Mini will sell to people who probably have an iPhone and don't have a tablet yet and think the iPad is a little outside their price range.
4 like dislike
barkerja

I'm not so sure. In my own (purely anecdotal) experience, I've seen a ton of close friends and family dropping their iPad 2 or 3 for the Mini. It's just a lot more practical for so many things, especially those that travel with theirs frequently.
1 like dislike
alexhoward

I travel quite a bit and don't have any problem carrying an iPad around. I just don't see a non-retina display as that big a hinderance for the folks that I think will be most attracted to it. For someone who has an iPad 1 or maybe a 2, it would certainly not be a problem. For iPad 3 owners, it would probably be a step down but I just don't see those people a big part of the customer target.
0 like dislike
guscost

This makes sense, but the PPI numbers aren't as important for me. I like sound and motion media but I'm not that into graphics, so using the battery to push extra pixels to the screen doesn't seem like a good tradeoff. That said, I only own an iPad 2.
2 like dislike
Jensanity5000

Have you actually used it and noticed it was bad or are you basing off of the specs? I haven't used one except for a few minutes but I thought the screen looked pretty good. I have a retina so interested if you did a side by side comparison and came away negative on the mini.
1 like dislike
peter

I used it and did not like the screen at all.
2 like dislike
hoddy

If you had an iPad 2 in you other hand would you have felt that way? I know this isn't the case but as a frame of reference?
0 like dislike
peter

I think it's a different story when comparing it with the iPad 2.
0 like dislike
hoddy

A negative or positive? There are many people still on the original iPad or the 2, is it a positive move for them to the mini? I think there are more owners of the old iterations than 3 onwards.
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falleninsea

i don't think the screen will be as big an issue when moving from an iPad or an iPad 2 to the mini. Plus with the better camera and Siri and the lower price than going to a 3 it would be more than likely be a positive move.
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daninbusiness

Aside for the fact that I already own a serviceable tablet and don't really need another in the house - what is keeping the iPad mini off my want list is the 512 MB of RAM. That is the same as my iPhone 4.

I'm sure that amount of RAM is sufficient for the near-term future.

But I have my doubts about how well this generation of the device will perform with future OS upgrades...it's pretty much the same guts as the iPhone 4S (and the iPad 2), and if Apple stays consistent with its treatment of older devices on iOS upgrades, then the features supported on iOS 7 by the 4S will probably be limited (not unlike how the iPhone 4 supports a subset of iOS 6 features now).

I'd feel that it is a bit more future-proof if it had a gig of RAM.

Despite Apple's best wishes, I don't really want to upgrade my tablet every 2 years...I think with proper care & love one should get 3-4 years of serviceable use at least (especially given overall build quality & price).
1 like dislike
jaganm

I agree, though the mini has yet to be launched here, the reason I'm not that interested is the CPU and ram. I'm sure next year will see them launching it with 1Gig and an A5 derived CPU. I already got burnt once with the 1st gen iPad and will not fall into that trap again.

Id buy a nexus 7 but it just got launched here for the equivalent of 380$
1 like dislike
doctran

I went to an Apple Store to play with the mini. I was really impressed with the weight and size. If retina displays never existed, I would buy a mini in a heartbeat.
1 like dislike
angela

I own an iPhone 5, iPad 3, and now an iPad mini. Going between the three devices doesn't cause a problem at all. I plan on keeping the iPad mini since I really like 7-inch tablets. The resolution on the mini is definitely not as good at the iPhone 5 or iPad 3/4, but the size and weight of the tablet more than make up for it in my eyes.
1 like dislike
slewis69au

There already is a higher resolution display, on like about 20 different Android tablets.
1 like dislike
hoddy

You hit the mail on the head you own a Retina iPad. My fiancé desperately wants an iPad mini and the resolution is not an issue as we currently only have an iPad 2 in the house. They have not released a retina iPad mini to make sure they have scope for an iteration next year if the R&D does not come up with anything new in the mean time.
0 like dislike
hoddy

The iPad mini is trying to hit first time buyers in a new demographic. So as a first time buy the screen is good, then they can upgrade to a retina iPad or next year buy the retina display mini when it is released.
1 like dislike
jogdial

I totally agree. I tried out the iPad mini in the Apple Store today and as a user of three other devices with Retina displays (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), I found the iPad mini display to be uncomfortably pixelated. This may be something you could get used to, if used exclusively, but if you switch between Retina and non-Retina devices, it will always be a jarring difference. Although all other aspects of the iPad mini seemed great, I wouldn't consider buying one until it has a Retina display.
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Paulypies

Is anyone with a Retina iPad buying a Mini to have as well?!? Not to be negative but this post is kind of stating the obvious. it Isn't really a conversation anyone is having. The trade off you make is the ecosystem vs display, with some build quality niceness thrown in there for good measure when comparing to other 7(ish) inchers. Nor is anyone breaking their back carrying or holding the 3rd gen iPad to be pulled away from that display.
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martymankins

This is exactly my hesitation to get an iPad mini. Over the last 7 months, I've gotten used to the retina display on my 3rd gen iPad. Having recently played around with a mini, I could tell right away that the pixel density was different enough. I will be waiting to see what a 2nd gen iPad mini brings.
0 like dislike
Paulypies

Yeah. As much as I've been loving the size, the display would break your heart a little every time you look at it going from a 3rd gen. A great (side?) upgrade for any iPad 2 owners but I really don't think anyone with a retina iPad would be happy they made the change.
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THExREALxTACO

I am personally excited by the premise of an iPad Mini, but I am going to hold out and get a Retina display Mini that is inevitably coming to market. I also expect it will have an A6 variant, which will be even more better.
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Mdgurrrrrrl

I'm not buying one because there's no difference between the big one and the small one but the size SPOLIER ALERT ITS JUST A WASTE OF MONEY
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Jensanity5000

I do not agree at all. Size can be enough of a factor alone. For instance, I travel alot would prefer a smaller iPad. I already have an 11 inch air, so a 10 inch tablet just added heft. This will be perfect. That is why all OEMs are making multiple sizes. Is nexus 7 the same as a nexus 10?
1 like dislike
gomer43

I thought I would feel the same way, but forced myself to live with it for a week. After the week is up (today), I've decided to live with it, even though I read a ton on my tablet.

But, if they come out with a retina iPad mini in two months, I'm all over it.
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cmfryer

I feel the same way. I can't get over how nice it is to hold in my hand. The holdability factor overcomes the lack of retina for now. But once there is a retina, I'm all over it too.
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radikal

i already own a nexus 7 and find it to be a better device over all, all around
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