New Apple iPad Mini: Its size is its strength

Mala Bhargava | Updated on April 17, 2019 Published on April 17, 2019

It’s the best little tablet you can buy but still expensive with its accessories — and it should have been more modernised

There’s something nice and personal about Apple’s iPad Mini. At 7.9 inches, it somehow sits in a place between a phone and a full-sized tablet in a way that makes one love it, much as one does Amazon’s Kindle. With worthy Android competitors in that size just about non-existent, the recently refreshed Mini is your best bet if you’re looking for a little tab that isn’t too cumbersome to hold for long sessions and is something much more than a phone or an e-reader.

The iPad Mini is really all about its size. It’s small enough to carry in a handbag or even a big jacket pocket, yet large enough to flip through photographs or watch a movie by yourself on. It isn’t as much a family tablet as the regular iPad can be, but much more a one-person companion. It feels quite Kindle-like for reading a book, being almost paperback-sized, except that the Kindle is much lighter and uses e-ink. The screen being crisp and sharp and vividly coloured makes browsing websites and using apps very nice as well.

Not much has changed about the iPad Mini since it was launched seven years ago. It’s still nice to hold, easy to carry and enjoyable to use. But one would have thought modernising the little tablet would have been in order after all these years. The bezels are the thick variety and there’s still a physical home button. There’s no facial recognition — you have to enter a passcode if you want security.

On the other hand, the iPad Mini’s internals have been upgraded. It now uses the chip apple calls A12 Bionic. That means faster graphics, quicker multi-tasking (if you want to multi-task on that little device), speedier performance in general and no lag between drawing with the Pencil and the appearance of the result on-screen. It can also handle augmented reality apps, of which there’s a growing number on the App Store. The quality of the apps you get in the Apple ecosystem is in fact one of the biggest reasons to adopt it, even though it may mean a higher cost of ownership eventually. More than one million of these apps are meant just for the iPad and they are not matched by anything available on Android yet.

Pencil it in

The Mini now supports the use of the Apple Pencil, which means that you can draw when the fancy gets you or jot down notes or do whatever it is you generally like to do with paper and pen or pencil. Or canvas and brush. Sadly though, the Mini only works with the first gen Apple Pencil, which is a bit bigger, has a cover on the end, and charges by being extremely awkwardly plugged into the device’s lightning port from where it sticks out in a way that is most unseemly. Unlike with the second gen Pencil, it doesn’t work with magnetic connectors on the device to charge or stay put. You’ll have to keep track of it carefully and of the back cover. The Pencil also comes at an additional cost of ₹8,500, which means you’d better be sure you’ll use it if you spend that much.

There isn’t a specific Apple keyboard for the Mini and nor does it have hardware connectors to which one can click in — that’s reserved for the yet more powerful iPads. The Mini is not the ideal tablet for typing and work but you can use an external Bluetooth keyboard, get a case with a stand, and use it anyway. If you really want to travel light, why not? A Smart Cover does magnetically snap on to the Mini and turns it off when shut, but this is not bundled with the tablet. It’ll cost an additional ₹3,500. You can’t do without a case altogether, so whether you buy one from a third party or from Apple, it must be factored in.

Price: ₹34,900 - WiFi, ₹45,900 WiFi + cellular

Pros: Easy to hold, portable, more powerful than before, has Pencil support, improved camera, growing unparalleled app ecosystem

Cons: Some design aspects dated, supports only first gen Pencil, higher models plus accessories are expensive

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Published on April 17, 2019
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