Yesterday afternoon, Apple laid one of the hottest rumors of late to rest once and for all. CEO Tim Cook, along with several colleagues, took the stage in San Jose and made the new 13.3-inch Retina MacBook Pro, a new iMac, a new Mac Mini and a fourth-generation iPad official. Apple also announced the mythical, miniature iPad, the iPad mini.
Just like the dozens of rumors over the last two months suggested, the iPad mini features a 7.9-inch display, looks very similar to what we expected and has very little bezel along the sides. It comes in 16, 32 or 64GB for $329, $429 and $529, respectively, in either white or black. LTE models for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon will also be available for $120 more than the non-LTE models: $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32GB and $659 for 64GB.
Inside, the iPad mini hosts a dual-core A5 processor, a battery that will last for 10 hours and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. At 7.9-inches, the display has a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels and it features a 5-megapixel iSight camera around back as well as a FaceTime HD camera on the front. And on the bottom is a port for Apple's new Lightning plug.
Yesterday, Evan asked if anyone was buying an iPad mini. If someone asked me if I wanted one six months ago, the answer would be straightforward: No. In fact, in April, I said exactly that. I wrote, Would you be interested in a smaller iPad? In that piece, I noted that pricing may be an issue. But more importantly, I argued that tablets on the smaller end of the spectrum are awkward to use and hold.
Clearly, my opinion has drastically changed in the past few months.
I acquired a Nexus 7 not long after Google's I/O developers conference in June. After some time with the 7-inch Google tablet, I wrote a review and discovered that the device works particularly well for entertainment. I paired a Sixaxis controller from my PS3 and loaded it up with games.I found myself using the Nexus 7 over every other device I owned for consuming media.
And I still use the Nexus 7 today. There were a few months where it stayed in a drawer and collected dust. But at the beginning of September, it found itself back amongst my arsenal of daily drivers. I now use it for everything from email and text messaging to browsing the Web, watching Netflix and listening to Google Music or Spotify. I'm fact, I am sitting on a plane to JFK for a Samsung event tonight and I'm using the Nexus 7 to type this article with my thumbs.
Now with the iPad mini announcement behind us, though, I stand by my initial statement.
Some have called the iPad mini overpriced. Some commended Apple for its entry in the mid-sized tablet market and can't wait to add the new iDevice to their list of gadgets.
I, however, don't think it's terribly overpriced. I would have preferred to see it priced at $299, or even $249. But $329 for the smallest model isn't astronomically high or overstating the caliber of device it will be. But it simply isn't a device I feel I need. And, strangely enough, I have no desire to own one. It boils down to two main reasons: size and display.
Breaking from the norm, Apple compared the iPad mini to one key competitor, the Nexus 7, claiming its 7.9-inch tablet is 35 percent larger than Google's budget tablet, among other things.
As far as size goes, a 7.9-inch device isn't terribly large. It's small in comparison to the full-sized iPad. Yet it's noticeably larger than the typical 7-inch tablet like the Nexus 7. For what it is, the Nexus 7 is borderline too big -- it barely fits in the back pocket of my jeans and it fits snugly in all my coat pockets. It's something I can take with me nearly everywhere without needing to carry a bag, especially in coat weather. Unfortunately, I'm almost certain the iPad mini will not fit in the back pocket of my jeans or in coat pockets.
Then there is the question of display size vs quality. At 7-inches, the Nexus 7 display has a resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels (WXGA). The 7.9-inch display of the iPad mini has a resolution 1,024 by 768 pixels. Doing the math, that's approximately 216 pixels per in on the Nexus 7 and 162 pixels per inch on the iPad mini.
The display on the Nexus 7 is decently clear. Only under close inspection can you see any sort of grain or pixelation. The iPad mini has a larger display with a considerably lower resolution and, respectively, fewer pixels per inch. The kicker, though, is that the Nexus 7 is only $199 for an 8GB model or $249 for the 16GB variant. And a 32GB model for $249 (presumably dropping the other two models' pricing) is expected to be announced this coming Monday. The iPad mini is a significantly more expensive device with a noticeably worse display.
As I've stated in the past, display quality is second to camera quality in importance when choosing a new phone. I don't care about cameras on tablets, though, so display quality comes first. Not to mention my investment in Google Apps.
The iPad mini may be a nice device. But it isn't for me. I'll keep my Nexus 7, and I may upgrade to a 32GB model with 3G/HSPA+ connectivity when available. Where do you stand, ladies and gents? Do you want an iPad mini? Or do you like another small tablet more? Better yet, do you think small tablets are pointless?
Image via The Verge