Apple has finally lifted the lid on the iPad mini? Should you buy it and when will it be available in Australia?
The iPad mini aims to fill the market between an iPhone and a full-sized iPad. Apple previously believed that no such market existed, but after the moderate success of products like the Google Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire (in the US), it has decided to jump on board too.
Apple claims the iPad mini is thinner than a pencil and that the key point of the product is the fact you can hold and use it with one hand. At just 7.2mm thick, the mini is about 23 per cent thinner than the new fourth generation iPad. It weighs a very light 312g and features a similar anodized aluminum finish to the iPhone 5.
Despite the reduction in size, Apple has stressed that the iPad mini "isn't just a shrunken down iPad". One major difference is the bezel surrounding the display, which is far thinner than the one on the full-sized iPad. This thinner bezel was necessary to make the iPad mini ideal for single-handed use. The mini's 7.9in screen is larger than most 7in Android tablets on the market, too, but it has the same 1024x768 resolution as the iPad 2.
Critically, the iPad mini's smaller screen doesn't come at a cost of usability. The device will run existing iPad apps normally with no modification required. Apple compared the iPad mini directly to the Nexus 7 at the media launch saying many Android apps are simply blown up smartphone apps stretched to fill the larger screen.
Apple may say the iPad mini isn't just a shrunken down iPad, but that's exactly what it looks like. Yes, the bezel is slimmer and the finish is similar to the iPhone 5, but the core design aspect remains the same.
If you already own an iPad, then, we doubt there is any sane reason to go out and purchase an iPad mini. Your current iPad will do everything the mini can do, only on a larger scale. It's not that much larger, either. In fact, the regular iPad's screen is less than two inches larger in diameter than the iPad mini.
The iPad mini's 1024x768 resolution doesn't compare favourably with the rest of the market, either. Google's Nexus 7 has a 1280x720 resolution which gives it a pixels per inch rating of 216ppi, higher than the iPad mini's 161ppi. With Apple pushing their excellent retina displays on the larger iPad's and the MacBook Pro notebooks, the lack of a retina screen on the iPad mini is a downside.
Finally, the iPad mini is a little expensive when compared to the competition. Yes, it has a slightly larger screen than the Nexus 7. Yes, it features a vast library of quality tablet apps that are in most instances more polished than the fragmented Android tablet ecosystem. At almost $400 for the entry level model, however, there isn't anything small about the price of the iPad mini.
The iPad mini includes 4G connectivity and it will work in Australia on the 1800MHz LTE networks used by Telstra and Optus. The iPad mini will also be compatible with the Virgin Mobile 4G network as it is an Optus MVNO.
The iPad mini marks the first time an LTE capable Apple tablet has worked on Australian 4G networks. Apple's third generation iPad, unveiled back in February, was marketed as a 4G device but didn't support the 1800MHz 4G network band used in Australia.
Apple is launching a total of six new iPad mini models — three with Wi-Fi and another three with Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity. The Wi-Fi+4G iPads use a nano-SIM card (a smaller version of the micro SIM card found in most smartphones) to access a telco's network, in much the same way a smartphone accesses the Internet.
Both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+4G models of the iPad mini will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions.
The iPad mini will officially go on sale in Australia on Friday 2 November, the same as the US launch date. In good news for Australian consumers, Australia is once again a tier one country by Apple meaning none of the delays we've seen with previous Apple products. In the past, Australian's have had to wait a number of weeks after the US to buy new Apple devices like the iPad and iPhone.
Along with Australia and the US, the UK, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland will also get the iPad mini from 2 November.
Aussie consumers will be able to pre-order the iPad online from Friday 26 October.
The Apple iPad mini is priced as follows in Australia:
iPad mini 16GB Wi-Fi — $369
iPad mini 32GB Wi-Fi — $479
iPad mini 64GB Wi-Fi — $589
iPad mini 16GB Wi-Fi + 4G — $509
iPad mini 32GB Wi-Fi + 4G — $619
iPad mini 64GB Wi-Fi + 4G — $729