iPad mini with LTE: First impressions (hands-on)

iPad mini with LTE: First impressions (hands-on)

Summary: The iPad mini with 4G have begun appearing for those who ordered one early. Mine arrived earlier than expected and these are my first impressions of the new iPad mini.

TOPICS: iPad, Reviews, Tablets

The iPad mini is the iPad I always wanted. The small form is big enough to include a screen large enough to be useful while maintaining a highly portable form that is very comfortable to use.

Setting up the iPad mini was simple as it shipped with nearly a full charge. I removed it from the box and fired it up. A few configuration questions was all it took to get the iPad mini up and running.

Since this is the cellular version from Verizon, it took a phone call to the carrier to get the iPad mini added to my existing Share Everything plan. This lets me tap into the big data pool I pay for, while only adding $10 per month to my bill. No contract is required for the iPad mini, I can add and remove it from my shared plan at will.

It turned out to be a good thing I activated the LTE right away as detailed in a previous article. The web connection in my home office died in the middle of downloading apps for the iPad mini. Having the LTE connectivity let me finish setting up the tablet without missing a beat.


Once my web connection was restored I was able to actually use the iPad mini. It didn't take long to find the little iPad to be the one I always wanted. It is so light and small that it is the most comfortable tablet I have used to date. That's a big deal as I tend to use tablets for long periods and comfort is always a big factor. The iPad mini is so light it is almost weightless in the hand, making it a joy to use.

It is a full iPad so all of the apps I own work fine on the iPad mini. The 7.9-inch display, while not a Retina Display, is a good size to still present all the information without requiring a lot of pinch zooming. Web sites display nicely and apps are a joy to use on this size screen. While a Retina Display would be better, there's nothing wrong with this one. It looks good and performs well.

Performance in general is typical iPad -- smooth operation and scrolling. The tablet is fast and in typical iPad fashion exhibits no lag during use. It is just as fluid in operation as my iPad 3. I have no complaints about the performance.

Red Smart Cover
Red Smart Cover on iPad mini

I bought a Smart Cover for the iPad mini as I like the one on the bigger tablet. It's not as flexible as the larger model, but I like this one for the iPad mini better. That is due to the hinge that connects the cover to the iPad mini. It is more comfortable to hold the tablet with the Smart Cover flipped behind it. There are no sharp edges like on the bigger Smart Cover.

I will be offering additional insights about the iPad mini as I get more time with it. My initial impression is quite good, I will be using this thing a lot. It's easy to throw in a pocket on any bag I carry and fits in a jacket pocket nicely. It will always be with me because of that portability, and the integrated 4G/LTE means I'll have high-speed mobile broadband all the time.

I have been a fan of smaller tablets since the appearance of the original Samsung Galaxy Tab, which I still own, right up to the Nexus 7. The more portable form of the smaller tablets are a perfect fit for me and the iPad mini brings that form to the iPad line.

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Topics: iPad, Reviews, Tablets

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  • We cant take any of your recommendations seriously

    Considering you've never even tried a Surface RT, you simply aren't in any position to say that anything is a recommended buy.

    Have you considered changing your title from Mobile Professional to "Mobile Dabbler"?
    • This is getting tiresome

      You must be pretty thick, or the success of Apple and Android vs MS must be getting to you (and a few other fan boys here).

      "It is so light and small that it is the most comfortable tablet I have used to date."

      How much does the RT weigh? Oh, more than twice as much did you say? Plus the center of gravity would be much farther away from your single handed grip, meaning it would be virtually impossible to hold the RT in one hand during use. I guess you have not figured out that tablets require one hand for the touch screen, since you probably use your RT sitting at a desk/table, typing one the keyboard.

      "The small form is big enough to include a screen large enough to be useful while maintaining a highly portable form that is very comfortable to use."

      How big is the RT? Oh, it is the about the same size as the iPad you say? I guess it is nowhere near as portable as the Mini then, but you would not notice, because you use your RT sitting as a desk/table, typing on the keyboard.

      I do not think the term "idiot" is too strong in this case.
      • I have a quick question for you

        "meaning it would be virtually impossible to hold the RT in one hand during use"

        You determined this from your hours of holding a Surface RT in one hand during use? No? You've never even seen a Surface RT in person?


        I have used the Surface RT in one hand during use. I've also used the iPad 2 in one hand during use. The Surface RT was no worse (or better) than the iPad 2 in this regard. But if you are too weak to be able to handle the extra 0.06lbs of the Surface then maybe you should pick up something other than the TV remote and the potato chips?

        But then again, you really don't know what you are talking about, never having even seen a Surface RT.
        • Obscess much?

          He was reviewing the Mini, and you brought up the RT, which is hardly relevant in the context of weight and portability.

          If he were reviewing the iPad, you might have had a point, since they are very similar in that regard.

          Try taking off your MS fan boy glasses. You brain might function better.
          • Thanks for answering the question

            "You determined this from your hours of holding a Surface RT in one hand during use? No? You've never even seen a Surface RT in person?"

            If you'd had a better answer, you would have used it.

            You've never used a Surface and as such, are completely incapable of making statements about how difficult it is to hold with 1 hand. An honest person would, at this point, retract their statement. Let's see what you are.
          • You are even worse than I thought

            OK, here is the answer, which is probably wasted on your moronic brain.

            It is basic physics; weight and moment arm. More than twice the weight with a c.g. (that is center of gravity for you) about 1.5 inches farther away from your grip.

            I DO NOT need to hold an RT. It obeys the laws of physics.

            When in a hole, stop digging.
          • You are digging multiple holes

            You didn't claim it would be more difficult to hold the Surface than the iPad Mini in 1 hand. Had you claimed that, I would have agreed. No, you stated (and it is on the record for all to see):
            "it would be virtually impossible to hold the RT in one hand during use"

            Stop digging dtlong. Admit you were wrong and let's move on.
          • Todd is right you can hold the Surface for like ever

            Todd and I invite all of you to march right over to your nearest shopping mall, find one of those swanky Micorosft pop-up kiosks that sit in the middle, near where overeager girls step in your path to spray cologne on you and hostesses try to entice you in to the Olive Garden after a long sit in the Sharper Image recliners. Todd and I say you can just pick up a Surface, dial up an issue of Electronic Gamer Monthly, and read the issue from front to back holding the Surface in portrait mode. Why don't you just go try it and see how right we are. Right Todd? Come on Todd, our work here is done. Put your hand in my back pocket and stay close.
          • wow

            Dt you rage much? What you are saying is absolute BS, like whenever I make a purchase, I always wonder about the physics of holding a tablet. Are you for real man? Go to a gym if you're that feeble. Some people's kids. .. can't do a thing for themselves and they get lazy and weak, this is a perfect example of this world is getting dumber.
          • If you'd had a better answer, you would have used it.

            Like I mentioned in another thread Toddy, one doesn't have to waste their though debunking your absurd claims.

            See, it's trivial for anyone here to find an Surface RT to use and have "opinion".
            If I was you, I wouldn't want my opponents to actually try an Surface RT, because most probably they will be so disappointed that they will eb much more motivated to ague with you.
        • Direct his attention to iPad2

          Clearly the right comparison. We don't care if the article is about iPad Mini! We want to compare Microsoft Surface With Windows RT Trademark to the iPad from two generations back. We'll set the tone here!!
    • Your recommendations suck!

      We don't care if you actually have used the device, in real-world situations, and in context of having hands-on experience with similar devices. We don't care if you're a journalist working for an independent blog/website. We don't care that your review is in sync with every single iPad Mini review out there!! We'll be here to spam any article you write!!
    • I kind of agree.

      Not that the article is horrible or Jim's super bias is bleeding through, it really isn't in this one... However, there's really not a ton of original substance that we haven't seen or heard before.

      I have an iPad mini, it is almost exactly like a shrunk down iPad 2 and, it isn't the most usable device out there. Sadly, the one thing Apple always prided themselves on was the screen! They are always about the visuals and this tablet will go down as their worst thus far.
      • To MS fanboi's

        The normal posts from "use all", I hope the surface comes with vibrate, It will be a necessary app for these fanboi's.
    • I don't understand your comment

      This was a review based on his experience with the iPad Mini LTE. The closest comparison would be a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7" for $599. You are asking him to a 10" tablet with productivity for MS office applications against a smaller portable media consumption device with mobile broadband capabilities. His implied recommendation is for those looking for a portable small tablet with mobile broadband capabilities.

      If he were to compare this tablet to a Surface, or even an iPad Retina Display, it would be like reading a Porsche recommendation over getting a Honda Minivan. -
  • Troll

    I did not recommend this to anyone, read the article before making comments like this, please. I always cover what I use and why so others can take from that what they will. I never recommend any purchase for anyone as everyone's needs are different.
    • James, your blogs speak louder than your protests

      When you proclaimed the Apple tablet + keyboard to be the best blogging tool ever invented while the MS tablet + keyboard, without ever using one, must be a tweener device, good at neither being a tablet nor at being a laptop simply because it can be used with a keyboard, you lost all credibility here.

      I know you are also deathly afraid of gorilla arms which is why, for some reason, reaching over the iPad keyboard to touch the screen is such a fantastic experience. Wait, what? Regardless, while you are straining your arms and shoulders, trying for the 5th time to tap on the screen to select the 1 letter you want to change in a misspelled word, I'm using the trackpad on the TouchCover to select that letter on my very first attempt with no arm or shoulder strain. But you would know this if you had ever even tried a Surface. That might be too much to expect from a "Mobile Dabbler" like you though.
      • When to hold 'em and when to fold 'em

        Time to fold
        • I just realized why you are so upset

          Sorry to hear that the AAPL you bought at $700 has lost more than 20% of its value.

          I'd be mad too. Don't take it out on others though, this is entirely your fault.
          • Bought at $49.50

            Laughing all the way to the bank.