The rest of us will have to wait until Friday, but a few lucky reviewers have already gotten their hands on the iPad mini to give it a test run. Here's what journalists and tech bloggers have to say about the svelte mini:
I was wrong. I have wondered publicly whether or not a smaller tablet would fit into my workflow and even suggested the larger iPad would be better. I was wrong...
I went to a local big box retailer and used every tablet they had in the store, including Microsoft's new Surface. The difference was immediately clear. The quality of these other tablets is so inferior to what Apple manufactures that they felt like plastic toys in your hands...
I am a firm believer in "you get what you pay for." The iPad mini is a perfect example of that. If you want to save $50 and buy a cheap-ass tablet, go ahead. If you want quality the iPad mini will be waiting for you when you come to your senses.
This isn't just an Apple tablet made to a budget. This isn't just a shrunken-down iPad. This is, in many ways, Apple's best tablet yet, an incredibly thin, remarkably light, obviously well-constructed device that offers phenomenal battery life. No, the performance doesn't match Apple's latest and yes, that display is a little lacking in resolution, but nothing else here will leave you wanting. At $329, this has a lot to offer over even Apple's more expensive tablets.
The iPad mini is an excellent tablet - but it's not a very cheap one. Whether that's by design, or due to market forces beyond Apple's control, I can't say for sure. I can't think of another company that cares as much about how its products are designed and built - or one that knows how to maximize a supply chain as skillfully - so something tells me it's no accident that this tablet isn't selling for $200. It doesn't feel like Apple is racing to some lowest-price bottom - rather it seems to be trying to raise the floor.
...And it does raise the floor here. There's no tablet in this size range that's as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who's been living with (and loving) Google's Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don't say that lightly.
Over all, the mini gives you all the iPad goodness in a more manageable size, and it's awesome. You could argue that the iPad mini is what the iPad always wanted to be.MG Siegler of TechCrunch:
The iPad mini isn't perfect - for one reason [the lack of a Retina screen] in particular - but it's damn close to my ideal device. In my review of the Nexus 7 (which I really liked, to the shock of many), I kept coming back to one thing: the form-factor. Mix this with iOS and Apple's app ecosystem and the intangibles I spoke about earlier and the iPad mini is an explosion of handheld joy
...But how will a $329 tablet fare in a world of $199 tablets? It's hard to know for sure, but my guess would be in the range of "quite well" to "spectacular."Walt Mossberg for The Wall Street Journal/All Things D:
In shrinking the iconic iPad, Apple has pulled off an impressive feat. It has managed to create a tablet that's notably thinner and lighter than the leading small competitors with 7-inch screens, while squeezing in a significantly roomier 7.9-inch display. And it has shunned the plastic construction used in its smaller rivals to retain the iPad's sturdier aluminum and glass body.
...I've been testing the iPad mini for several days and found it does exactly what it promises: It brings the iPad experience to a smaller device. Every app that ran on my larger iPad ran perfectly on the mini. I was able to use it one-handed and hold it for long periods of time without tiring. My only complaints were that it's a tad too wide to fit in most of my pockets, and the screen resolution is a big step backwards from the Retina display on the current large iPad.
If the Mini had a Retina display, I'd switch from the iPad 3 in a heartbeat. As it stands, I'm going to switch anyway. Going non-Retina is a particularly bitter pill for me, but I like the iPad mini's size and weight so much that I'm going to swallow it.
My guess is that this is going to play out much like the iPod and iPod mini back in 2004: the full-size model will continue to sell strongly, but the mini is going to become the bestselling model.
Scott Stein of CNET:
The smaller form changes the way you approach the tablet. I've never hesitated to travel with the bigger iPad. It's terrific for reading, watching movies and playing games on an airplane - but given a choice, before a road trip I would now more likely grab the little guy. It's the right size for immersing yourself in a novel. Held sideways, it's simple to bang out an email with your fingers. ... Despite a few quibbles and strong competitors in the space, the Mini is a splendid choice for folks who held off buying an iPad because it was too large or too expensive.
If the iPad Mini had a Retina display, a newer A6 processor, and a slightly lower price, it would be the must-have Apple gadget of the year. Even without that, it's still incredibly appealing.
...I'm not sure who the iPad mini is for. The budget-minded, perhaps, or kids, or those who want a second iPad. Businesses that want a more portable onsite iPad. People who want to mount an iPad in their vehicles. Actually, I guess I know exactly who the iPad mini is for. With iOS having such reach, this is another use case, another form. It's as simple as that. The iPad mini probably isn't for everyone, and that's exactly the point. Like the iPod and Nano, it's another style for another crowd. I will say this: when you see it, you'll desire it. Just remind yourself you may not need it.Harry McCracken of TIME:
Aesthetically, the 7-inchers are all nice considering their price. The mini is nice, period. It's glass on the front and aluminum on the back, and at least as deluxe-feeling as any other iPad Apple has ever made. But the company didn't quite stick an iPad in a photocopier and press the Reduce button.
...If your budget's got more wiggle room, the iPad mini is the best compact-sized tablet on the market. Apple didn't build yet another bargain-basement special; it squeezed all of the big iPad's industrial-design panache, software polish and third-party apps, and most of its technology, into a smaller thinner, lighter, lower-priced model. The result may be a product in a category of one - but I have a hunch it's going to be an awfully popular category.
It's just a runty iPad, but the new iPad mini somehow manages to establish its very own identity. ... With stellar hardware and hundreds of thousands of apps, the iPad is the Kleenex of facial tissue. The Tivo of DVRs. It has all the perks of using an iOS device: AppStore, iMessages, FaceTime, etc.Bloomberg's Rich Jaroslovsky:
Apple's most important products created their own markets: People didn't know they wanted or needed an iPhone until Steve Jobs & Co. showed it to them. The iPad mini, by contrast, is an attempt to follow competitors rather than find a new audience. Amazon.com's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7, to name two, have shown that users want something smaller than the 9.7-inch screen that's been on every iPad until now.
Which isn't to say Apple has compromised the iPad experience. For the most part, it has simply shrunk it....Which raises the question: How much is Apple's superiority in software and content worth to you? How about $130?... I can tell you the iPad mini is the best small tablet you can buy. The question you'll have to answer for yourself is whether it's that much better.
... The iPad mini is a product that's resolutely "Apple": it distills the essentials of the 9.7-inch iPad – iOS app compatibility, multimedia functionality, premium build quality, and comprehensive connectivity – without diluting them to unnecessarily meet a budget price point the company has no real interest in achieving. ...... What it also means is that the iPad mini isn't the iPad you buy simply because you can't necessarily afford the larger iPad with Retina display. There are legitimate arguments for the smaller model, not undermined by flimsy construction or compromised capabilities.... In the end, it's about an overall package, an experience which Apple is offering. Not the fastest tablet, nor the cheapest, nor the one that prioritizes the most pixel-dense display, but the one with the lion's share of tablet applications, the integration with the iOS/iTunes ecosystem, the familiarity of usability and, yes, the brand cachet. That's a compelling metric by which to judge a new product, and it's a set of abilities that single the iPad mini out in the marketplace. If the iPad with Retina display is the flagship of Apple's tablet range, then the iPad mini is the everyman model, and it's one that will deservedly sell very well.