Apple has finally revealed the iPad mini that I am willing to surrender a wad of cold hard cash for. Chock full of hardware improvements and features, the Apple iPad Mini 2 (yes, I’m still refusing to call it the Apple iPad mini with Retina Display, it’s quite a mouthful) puts its predecessor to shame easily.
Mini tablet, major disappointment
When the iPad Mini was unveiled a year ago, its reduced 7.9in display was expected. The thing that got me reeling in shock however was two generations old hardware.
It was at that moment, I recognised the iPad Mini for what it really was - a downsized iPad 2.
It lacked Apple’s famed Retina Display that was capable of throwing your eyes into a visual feeding frenzy. Instead, what it offered was a measly 1024 x 768 resolution at 163 pixels per inch (ppi). Want to duke it out on Infinity Blade II? That slow-mo of an A5 dual-core processor just couldn't make the cut. One couldn't help feel that Apple was trying to feel out consumer reactions towards the compact tablet by giving us the short end of the stick.
Priced at $329 (RM1,045) then (the iPad Mini has since been adjusted to a $299 (RM950) price tag for its 16GB Wi-Fi version), it was significantly more expensive than the first Google Nexus 7. Now bear in mind that the Asus-made tablet was powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and had a higher screen resolution of 1280 x 800. With all that superior hardware, the 16GB Wi-Fi Android tablet was only priced at a mere US$199 (RM630), putting the iPad Mini to shame.
Picking up the slack
Those who knew the futility of being an early adopter held back on the iPad Mini purchase. The Apple faithful had faith in their fruity tech God, believing that it'll come to its senses and unveil a follow-up that was truly worthy of their attention. Apple really had to up its ante and you know what? It did.
As the recent unveil has shown, Apple did not disappoint. The iPad Mini 2 has received an extreme power-up, in the form of the incredibly speedy and future-proof 64-bit A7 processor and M7 motion co-processor that was found in the recently launched iPhone 5s.
Considering the paltry hardware that the first iPad Mini came with, Apple's claim that the iPad Mini 2 delivers 4x faster performance and 8x faster graphics than its predecessor is certainly believable.
A power boost isn't the only thing that the iPad Mini 2 brought to the table. There's also improved connectivity features, including a 300Mbps Wi-Fi download speeds through MIMO that taps into the full potential of your home fibre connection and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.
Sounds pretty sweet right but the question is, despite all those improvements, are there any potential deal-breakers? There is one. All that juicy boost in hardware does come at a price, and it's a pretty sizable one. The 16GB Wi-Fi only version costs $399 (RM1,270) and that's a hefty $100 (RM320) bump-up from the iPad Mini’s original launch price.
That said, although you might have to dig deeper into your pockets for the new iPad Mini, compared to its predecessor, it's light years ahead. The iPad Mini 2 is THE mini tablet you and I (and a good bunch of Apple fans) have waited patiently for. As for its closest competitor, the Google's Nexus 7? Well let's say that it really ought to watch its back now...