2014’s iPad Mini 3 was a perfectly respectable tablet, but unfortunately it just wasn’t the upgrade from the iPad Mini 2 that most people were expecting. Rather than revamping its internals, the only new feature introduced was Apple’s Touch ID sensor and that was your lot. As a result, the Mini 3 seemed pretty poor value by comparison with its older brother.
Fortunately, it looks like Apple’s back on track this year, as the iPad Mini 4 seems to improve on its predecessor in pretty much every way, cramming eerily similar iPad Air 2 specs into a significantly smaller body, looking to bringing an even greater level of parity between the small and large tablets Apple puts out.
There’s one thing that seems to have remained a constant yet again, and that’s Apple’s excellent build quality, with the iPad Mini 4 seemingly retaining its crown as the best-made mini tablet. Its aluminium body, which is available in gold, space grey and silver, looks stunning, but still provides that reassuringly rugged feel that you expect from an Apple tablet. You just don’t get this re-assuredness from plastic tablets, with the iPad Mini 4 blowing them all out of the water.
There are a couple of minor changes here, which I feel are for the better. As was also the case with the Air 2, the iPad Mini 4 no longer has the switch on the side, which could be set to toggle the screen rotation lock or silent mode. However, given that rotation lock is now in the swipe-up Control Centre menu in iOS and you can make the iPad silent by holding the volume down button, the button has now become quite unnecessary; in fact, I didn’t miss it on the iPad Air 2, as is also the case here.
There’s also some newly redesigned volume buttons on the side too, so that rather from jutting out from the surface, they now sit inside a little hollow, which is yet again very similar to the button design on the iPad Air 2
Moving from the iPad Mini 2 and 3, the 4th iteration also has slightly different speaker grills at the bottom (one row of holes at the bottom, rather than stacked rows), and the size is now very slightly different: at 203x134x6.1mm the iPad Mini 4 is slightly taller and thinner than the iPad Mini 3 (200x135x7.5mm). During use, I felt that there’s very little difference between the new model and the older models: it’s actually extremely comfortable to hold and use one-handed, as you’d expect.
In use, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the iPad Mini 2/3’s screen: it was bright and clear. But, put the older iPads next to a tablet with a better display, such as the iPad Air 2 and the differences became much more obvious, with the iPad Mini losing out on colour accuracy and detail in images. The Expert Reviews colour calibration tests sadly reaffirmed this, finding out that the iPad Mini 3 was sadly only capable of displaying 67.1% of the sRGB colour gamut.
This time around, we’ve now got a brand-new IPS panel with the iPad Mini 4 and the results are somewhat spectacular in comparison. I found that the new display was considerably better than the older version, with the colour calibrator registering that the iPad Mini 4 was capable of producing 94.8% of the sRGB colour gamut. What this means in real terms is that there’s more detail in photos and more accurate colours, and I certainly found that the new display was one of the best that I’ve used.
There’s been no alteration with the resolution in this year’s model, with the new screen maintaining the same 2,048×1,536 resolution of the iPad Mini 3. At a high 324ppi, it means that everything looks extremely sharp. I have to say that this improved screen makes a clear difference to the product and it’s good to see that the one slightly weaker area of previous models has been improved substantially.
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