The iPad Mini is here. It's a sleek, thin and light 7.85-inch tablet made of anodised aluminium and glass that follows the format reduction pioneered by Google and Amazon. Its specs and design are pretty much what we expected.
Here are all its specs and how it compares to the Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD.
The iPad Mini has a larger surface than the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HD: 7.85 inches vs 7 inches. Remember that this size is diagonal, so the difference is quite substantial. The area of the iPad Mini is smaller than the regular iPad, but it's significantly larger than the panoramic Android 7-inch tablets. Here's a comparison:
In fact, the iPad mini's screen has 35 per cent more real estate than the Nexus 7. According to Apple, that gives you a 50 per cent larger surface to browse the web in landscape mode and 67 per cent larger in landscape mode.
It's yet to be seen if the the size difference will affect consumers decision. My guess is yes, if consumers think the price is competitive enough. Are all the features and the thinner, lighter and prettier design worth the price differential with the Kindle Fire HD? £110 is a lot of money.
The pixel resolution is 1024 x 769 pixels. It's not as dense as the iPad 3 and 4, but at that size it will be much sharper than the previous generations.
The iPad mini is an all anodised aluminium design, like the iPhone 5. The Google Nexus 7 is made of plastic, while the Kindle Fire HD has a rubberised back that is quite nice to grab. Like the iPhone too, it comes in black and white.
It's quite light and thin. As pad of paper: just 308g and 7.2 millimetres thin. That's 53 per cent lighter than the fourth-generation iPad. It compares very favourably to the Nexus 7 (340g and 10.4 millimetres).
Some models come with LTE connectivity, but they're much more expensive. The comparable regular Fire HD and the Nexus 7 only have Wi-Fi.
It naturally comes with 802.11a/b/g/m Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (like Amazon and Google's models).
Like all the latest iOS products, it uses a Lightning port too.
Basically, this is a reduced iPad 2. It uses the same dual-core A5 processor, and it most probably comes with the same RAM as the old iPad: 512MB. Apple say it's basically the same (or better) guts but in a reduced package (an exception is the cameras and the Lightning port). Both the Fire HD and the Nexus 7 come with 1GB of RAM. We will have to wait to see how much RAM it really has, though. Perhaps it's also been upgraded.
Like all the iPads, it comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB flavours.
Apple claims a 10 hour battery life surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music, using its 16.3-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery.
The Nexus 7 is rated by Google at 8 hours.
It has a FaceTime HD camera, which is better than the one in iPad 2. It's comparable to the Nexus 7, which is 1.2 megapixels too. The iPad has a backside illuminated sensor and, like its older sibling, it supports Face detection.
Like the bigger iPad, it comes with a 5 megapixel camera on the back. This is something that neither the Nexus 7 nor the Kindle Fire HD have.
Price and availability
If you were hoping for a £200 starting point, brace yourself for disappointment. It starts at £269 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only version, with 32GB setting you back £349 and 64GB for £429, while the LTE variant will set you back £369 for 16GB, 32GB for £369 and 64GB for £449.
The Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7 don't have LTE support at any price point. On the Wi-Fi front, however, both Android tablets have a much better price, specially the Fire HD, which is £160 for the 16GB model. The £160 Nexus 7 will only get you 8GB.
You can start pre-order this Friday and receive the Wi-Fi version on Friday next week. The cellular versions will arrive in a couple of weeks.
The iPad 2 remains, by the way—the iPad 3 is gone, replaced by the 4th generation model at £399.