Apple and Google's Android platform have been wrestling for control of the small-form tablet market for over a year now. This started in 2012 when Apple released the original iPad Mini just months after Google's first ever own-brand tablet, the Nexus 7.
Carrying a high price tag and woefully under specified, the first iPad Mini failed to wow many critics. One year on however, Apple's rethought its strategy and has unveiled a radically upgraded iPad Mini 2.
The iPad Mini 2 is fractionally bigger than its predecessor, measuring 200x135x7.5mm and weighing 331g when compared with the original iPad Mini at 200x135x7.2mm and 308g.
Despite the increased weight, the Mini 2 is visually very similar to other Apple products, featuring a metallic back and Gorilla Glass front. This is no bad thing as the Mini 2 looks great and is still light and small enough to remain travel friendly.
One of the iPad Mini 2's biggest upgrades is its 7.9in, 2048x1536, 326ppi Retina Display. The original iPad Mini's screen was the same size but had a disappointing 1024x768 resolution that made the tablet difficult to use in certain situations, like reading small text or editing documents.
Given how good Apple Retina displays have been in the past, the new iPad Mini 2's display could prove a key selling point and we are keen to see how it will compare to that of the new Nexus 7, which was the first tablet with a display that broke the 300ppi density threshold, featuring a 7in 1920x1200 1080p HD screen.
The Apple iPad Mini 2 runs iOS 7 and comes loaded with a host of free productivity apps including Pages and iWork. However, we expect it will be the security features of iOS 7 that will be its key selling point.
Introduced on Apple's current flagship iPhone 5S smartphone, iOS 7 features 41 security updates. These address a number of the operating system's key services and code, including its certificate trust policy, data protection systems and Safari web browser. Considering the sea of Trojan apps targeting the Android ecosystem and Apple's ongoing ability to keep iOS and the software on the App Store malware-free the combination of productivity services and greater security could be a key differentiator, boosting the iPad Mini 2's business appeal.
Apple has equipped the iPad Mini 2 with the same A7 chipset as the iPad Air and iPhone 5S. The firm claims the chipset delivers four times faster CPU performance and eight times in the case of graphics. If true, the iPad Mini 2 may well be the snappiest small-form tablet available this year.
The iPad Mini 2 features an 5MP iSight rear and HD Facetime front camera. We haven't had a chance to test the camera, but considering how poor the original Mini's rear camera was, even with the addition of iOS 7's upgraded camera software we don't have high hopes.
Storage and LTE
The new iPad Mini is set to ship in November and will be available in a variety of storage and connectivity options. The basic 16GB WiFi-only model will cost £320. The 16GB LTE model will cost a more premium £420. This means the iPad Mini 2 will remain more expensive than the Google Nexus 7, the 16GB model of which costs a far more reasonable £200.
In conclusion, our early impressions of the Apple iPad Mini 2 are very positive. The new iOS 7 tablet features a radically more powerful processor and significantly crisper Retina display than its predecessor. However, it costs over £100 more than its key rival, the Google Nexus 7, which itself has some pretty impressive technology. The question will be whether its enhancements are going to be enough to entice buyers on to shell out the extra cash.
Check back with V3 later for a full review of the Apple iPad Mini 2.
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