CNET reviews Retina iPad mini: A powerhouse, packed-to-the-gills, top-end tablet beast; Editors’ Choice

“It’s amazing to think that, just a year ago, the iPad Mini was positioned as a smaller ‘budget’ iPad without as much power as the 9.7-inch version,” Scott Stein writes for CNET. “Now it’s a powerhouse and a top-end tablet. I said, a year ago, I didn’t know who the iPad Mini was for. But over the last year, the Mini ended up cementing itself as my personal iPad of choice. I accepted its limitations in exchange for its form.”

“Now, there are no limitations,” Stein writes. “The new iPad Mini has a 2,048×1,526-pixel Retina Display that’s exactly the same resolution as the larger iPad, and a far faster 64-bit A7 CPU that parallels what’s in the iPhone 5S and iPad Air, plus that M7 co-processor. In fact, you could easily call the iPad Mini with Retina Display a shrunken-down clone of the new iPad Air: it has exactly the same specs as its larger sibling.”

“That raises the question: with two iPads so similar, which do you choose? Do you want to pay $400 for a midsize tablet — or $500 for its big brother? The new Mini is less expensive, but the Air has the larger screen,” Stein writes. “This isn’t a budget tablet, but it’s clearly not meant to be. It’s a packed-to-the-gills little tablet beast… Only the iPad [models] will deliver iOS, along with the relative advantages and refinements of that app ecosystem — a double advantage for anyone who’s already an iPhone or Mac user… But, if you want a small tablet with no limitations, that can run the best gamut of high-end apps, display productivity-type applications in a larger amount of screen space, and play games amazingly, the iPad Mini with Retina Display is hands-down the way to go.”

“As Apple heads into 2014, there are a lot of future directions I can imagine it heading. The larger iPad, perhaps, could co-evolve with the MacBook Air into the next-step future of computing,” Stein writes. “The Mini, though, is fine where it is. Other than price and inevitable spec bumps (and, maybe, Touch ID), I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Read more in the full review here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Bill” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Associated Press reviews Retina iPad mini: Unmatched by cheaper Android tablets – November 12, 2013
Dalrymple reviews Retina iPad mini: ‘As much as I love the Air, I still find myself reaching for the iPad mini’ – November 12, 2013
Apple starts online sales of iPad mini with Retina display, no in-store pickup available – November 12, 2013


  1. This is how dim witted these tech reviewers are….“The new iPad Mini has a 2,048×1,526-pixel Retina Display that’s exactly the SAME resolution as the larger iPad, and ….”

    Ahhhh, No!! The iPad Mini has more resolution than the iPad Air.

        1. I should explain…..

          Imagine those same pixel spread over a screen the size of a football pitch. The same number of pixels but the resolution is low….as is the pixel density. Now imagine those same pixels on half the football field. The pixel density will go up and so will the resolution. That’s what happens with the mini…..the pixel density goes up, as does its resolution.

      1. Apple states:

        iPad Mini: 2048-by-1536 resolution at 326 pixels per inch (ppi)
        iPad Air: 2048-by-1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)

        So the resolution is the same. All other arguments are just BS, no matter, right or wrong. 😛

    1. @paul

      There was a time in the 80’s when resolution was actually used to mean pixel density, pure and simple. In recent years all tech writers have been using the term resolution to mean the number of horizontal and vertical pixels, not pixel density.

      Personally, I was peeved when that changed and felt for a while that everyone was wrong. 🙂 I’ve since adjusted to what is.

      1. You adjusted? Even if they are wrong?

        Imagine you have 320 pixels in a sq inch. You can “resolve” quite a lot. Now imagine that sq inch has less and less pixels….until you got 1 pixel or even 0 pixels. What can you “resolve”? Nothing.

        1. Paul,

          See what you did there? You reduced the pixel count. If I have an image that is 320 pixels, that could be 16×20 pixels as a resolution. The information is still there regardless of how many inches it’s being displayed at. However if I reduce the pixels down to 8×10, information is lost regardless of how many inches it’s being displayed at.

          Again, that’s not to say PPI isn’t a useful measurement, or even that it’s not one definition of resolution, only to say that pixel count can, in some instances be more important, and is one broadly accepted definition of resolution.

    2. “This is how dim witted these tech reviewers are…

      Paul, the reviewer is correct. Both the iPad mini with Retina and the iPad Air have a resolution of 2,048×1,526.

      The iPad mini Retina has a higher PPI (pixels per inch or density) than the iPad Air (326 for the mini versus 264 for the Air).

      The reviewer specifically gives this information and even explains the density difference.

      The term “resolution” is ambiguous and can be applied to all kinds of things outside of displays (like referring to audio resolution). However, generally speaking when referring to displays the term resolution is the width and height expressed in pixels. Hence, we refer to things like 720p versus 1080p. We’re counting pixels as a means of measuring resolution, with an understanding that the PPI will change based on the size of the display.

      1. That is not resolution. That is merely a meaningless pixel count.

        I am amazed that people would let idiotic wordsmiths loose on scientific meanings and accept the mangled results it as if it was actually true.

        What’s next? A bigass Sandung battery is the same power concentration (also known as power density) as a half sized Apple battery?

        1. Paul,

          Nobody is making a technological or scientific argument here. Clearly, as I wrote before, the CNET reviewer understands the difference between pixel count and pixels per inch, and even goes so far as to explain this and offer opinion based on the increased ppi.

          The argument you are making is based on the English language and the definition of “resolution”.

          Here’s the thing… you have a preconceived notion of what “resolution” means, and that’s fine. As I mentioned before, the term is ambiguous. If you made a statement based on resolution in terms of ppi, I wouldn’t correct you. But, being an ambiguous term, I also wouldn’t correct someone using the term to describe a pixel count.

          If you don’t believe me on the definition of resolution, look it up. I was going to post a bunch of links to definitions supporting either the ambiguous definition or the pixel count definition, but really, take a look at any source from Wikipedia to pretty much any encyclopedia or dictionary.

          Words in the English language mean what people accept them to mean, and as such, “resolution” is being used broadly as one definition to mean pixel count (as well as other definitions).

          While there is no official definition, no legal book stating official definitions of words recognized by law, there are government organizations that define standards that are legally adopted by the U.S. and other countries. One such body is the ISO. Another is the NTSC, established by the FCC in 1940. Both have defined standards based on resolution that disregard density.

          Look up NTSC, and you’ll clearly understand why resolution is often given with disregard to density. That’s not to say that density isn’t a very important point of measurement, but rather density is often unknown or unspecified in any given standard or protocol.

          In the case of the television broadcast standard of NTSC, a video signal is given using a specific standard that disregards the size of the monitor it’s going to be displayed on. The resolution remains constant, but the size of the monitor affects the density. When this was developed, the broadcasters didn’t care what the density was going to be, they only concerned themselves with resolution based on line (pixel) count so that all the equipment could work together.

          PeteLP is somewhat correct in his statement above, but only in the sense of what he was working with in terms of resolution. I’m guessing that in the 80s, he was printing and scanning and not so much broadcasting video.

          In the print and scan world, DPI is pretty much everything. What quality do you want that photo to be scanned at? Well, the resolution setting is in DPI for the exact opposite reason for why broadcast signal use the other definition, that is to say that when scanning an image the DPI matters, while the actual count of pixels in the scanned image will vary with the image size. If you’re scanning a bunch of different sized images and you want them to be the same quality, then density is a much more practical definition use of resolution.

          TL;DR: If you’re the only person demanding a specific definition and everyone else in the world (wikipedia, pretty much all dictionaries and encyclopedias, ISO, NTSC, etc..) is accepting another definition, you might want to reconsider your position or what the definition of definition is.

    3. Resolution is a bit of an ambiguous term, and it’s changed over time, but I think this usage is correct.

      The term resolution comes from resolving power, which is the ability to resolve detail, or distinguish two points from one another. The number of pixels present in the display is what determines the amount of detail that can be displayed, in other words, resolving power or resolution. How far apart those pixels are, how big the screen is, determines how it appears at different distances but the level of detail–resolution–is determined by the number of pixels.

      So… I believe that this reviewer’s usage, which mirrors the entire tech industry, including Apple, is correct.

    1. Exact same situation here – Gold 5s for me, new Retina iPad mini for her (incl. the Project Red case)! Hopefully they’ll let us use their new “baby” once in a while. 😉

  2. Just picked up a Sky Gray 64 GB Cellular mini at the Apple Store for my son. Mailing it to him in the morning. Really lucky to have one available for in store pick-up. I just hope Apple can make enough of these things for the holidays. I love my Air, though, as I prefer the larger display.

  3. “In fact, you could easily call the iPad Mini with Retina Display a shrunken-down clone of the new iPad Air: it has exactly the same specs as its larger sibling.”

    ^ Is not exactly true – the mini and the iPhone 5s have the same processor at 1.3 GHz, slightly slower than the Air at 1.4 GHz. The A7s in the iPads drive the same number of pixels, so the iPad mini will be slower at screen/graphics tasks. The iPhone 5s has fewer pixels to push than the iPads, so it’ll be faster at that than the mini.

  4. Got a courtesy call from AT&T business about lines on my account that were eligible for upgrades. We have 9 lines: 1 iPhone 5S, 5 iPhone 5s, 1 iPhone 4, 1 iPhone 3G, and a 3rd gen. iPad.

    She said we have 4 lines eligible for upgrade and recommended we take advantage of their current promotion: a Samsung Galaxy S4 with a free Galaxy tab. I said, “No thanks. We’re pretty much Apple folks here.” She said, “I can see that.” Then she offered the Samsung promo again.

    Free Galaxy tablet with purchase of the phone?!? Smh.

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