New iPad mini: I pass

New iPad mini: I pass

Summary: The new iPad mini is an upgrade that has some significant improvements over the first generation model. Even so, it's not good enough to get me to upgrade.

TOPICS: Mobility, iPad, Tablets
iPad mini KB
Original iPad mini, ZAGGkeys Cover keyboard (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

I'm a tablet guy. I own four of them and use them all heavily. One of them is the iPad mini, and I use it a lot for both work and play. The new model that Apple unveiled recently has some significant hardware upgrades, and while the new iPad mini looks good on the surface it's not enough of an improvement to get me to trade in my original model.

Two areas of improvement in the new iPad mini are the better processor and the Retina Display. The former should make the refreshed mini run faster than the original model and the latter should leverage the small display of the new iPad mini to maximum advantage. These two features combined should make the new iPad mini a great tablet.

So why don't I want one? It's simple: my original iPad mini works just fine. Sure, it would be nice if it was faster and had a crystal clear display but to tell the truth it doesn't need it.

I use the iPad mini for all of the typical tablet activities, using it to do online stuff and read ebooks. I also use it to write articles on occasion, using a ZAGGkeys Cover keyboard. It works surprisingly well and I'll bet I've written 30,000+ words this way.

That's why I see no need to spend big bucks to upgrade to the new iPad mini. I don't find the original model to be slow in any way, so the processor bump in the new one would be nice but not life changing. 

I admit a Retina Display upgrade would be nice, but I have to confess something. I have a MacBook Pro and an iPad 4 with Retina Displays and when I move to the MacBook Air and iPad mini without the special displays I don't miss them at all. Yes, the systems with Retina Displays look really crisp and sharp, but I don't find moving to the iPad or MacBook Air to be that big a deal. I suspect I'd like the better screen on the new iPad mini but it wouldn't rock my world enough to make a huge difference.

My original iPad mini is fully loaded, 64GB of storage and Verizon LTE. I paid a pretty penny for it and I'd need at least the same configuration on a new one should I upgrade. That would cost a whopping $729. I found the original iPad mini to be worth the investment, but not again. I already have a good iPad mini and I'll stick with that; no upgrade for me. Now the iPad Air may be another story.

Note: This article was written using the original iPad mini and the ZAGG keyboard shown in the image above. I doubt a new iPad mini would improve this experience in a significant way.

See related: 

iPad Air: No Apple keyboard needed

2 keyboards for iPad Air: ZAGGkeys Folio and ZAGGkeys Cover

Two keyboard cases for iPad mini from ZAGG change the game

9 best iPad keyboards (hands on): March 2013

Definitive guide to keyboards for iPad and iPad mini

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Hmm. I understand your choice but disagree with your reasons

    You stated you don't mind returning to a device using a lower res display or that the iPad mini doesn't require a crystal clear HiDPI screen nor a significant improvement in system performance or speed.

    I believe it would have been more accurate to state that for short periods of time, you can tolerate the use of your iPad mini instead of insisting that you don't miss those hardware enhancements belonging to a superior device.

    If I may use an example from a device that you are familiar with to clarify my points, I would like to draw upon my observations using my two Surface tablets. (I understand you had the RT but not the Pro tablet. For the purposes of my example, not being familiar with the Pro version won't matter)

    After upgrading to Win 8.1 on both machines, I can summarize the consensus view that using the original Surface RT is a very nice experience (see Simon's recent ZDNet blog)

    However, to say I don't miss the higher resolution display or significantly superior system performance of the Surface Pro would be dishonest. I do miss the advantages of the Pro over the RT tablet.

    My eyes notice a difference when viewing content for an extended period of time on the Surface RT. They become fatigue. Oh, not red eye, itchy viscine needing type fatigue to be sure but it is noticeable.

    I tolerate (or have become to accept) the slower system speed response times of the Surface RT VS the pro model and, again to be honest, the Surface RT experience is a pleasurable one while I am using it.

    But I do miss using my Surface Pro during those times that I am using my Surface RT. (Perhaps much in the same way you miss the advantages of your iPad 4 while using the iPad mini.)

    So I understand your reasons for bypassing the next iPad mini generation. I myself bypassed the iPad 4 and made the choice to keep my iPad 3 but it would have been nice to have the system speed improvements if I had upgraded.
    • I swear 48 percent of your posts serve no purpose other than... hear yourself (see yourself) speak. That was a long TLDR of a way to basically accuse James of being disingenuous in his reasons for not upgrading. A little bit of "to each his own" might apply here. I find you one of the more interesting regulars on here, but occasionally I find that I read through your entire post and end up with nothing but filler by the end.

      That said, mark it a RED LETTER DAY when James Kendrick is passing up on a digital toy because it's not a wise financial decision for once. And, ironically, of all the things NOT to buy, it just happens to be quite possibly the most anticipated Apple product of the past year.

      Despite all the crap I give you, James, it was your recommendation that put me over the edge on the ZAGGKeys Cover keyboard which I'm typing on right now myself. And I will tell you that without question if the retina mini fits in this keyboard, the old one will be gone. There is a tiny fraction of a difference between the two, so I'm not sure if it will fit. If it doesn't, I'll pass, I enjoy this keyboard as much as I do the entire tablet. It really transforms the entire way it can be used in a tiny package.
      • It fits

        According to ZAGG the cover fits the new mini.
        • That's great!

          I'm in the camp who does find, even on the mini, that the retina display would enrich the experience. Not only that, the 64 bit architecture will have added benefits over time.

          In fairness, I got my Sprint mini 16gb as an open box for 329.00 or something so im not quite as heavily invested, but this will just go to a family member.

          I love my Zagg keys cover and wouldn't trade its productivity for the world. This will make it even better.
      • Good point. I have been accused of being overly verbose on occasion

        But I disagree with your statement that I was being disingenuous towards James. James stated his reasons for his decision. I had issues with those reasons but not with his decision for bypassing an opportunity to upgrade a first generation device. I hope you understand that distinction.

        I trust this comment is a bit more succinct for you. Very Big Brin. BTW, no offense was taken with your honest opinions.
        • No offense intended..

          ... After all, I *DO* read your posts :)
    • You, not me

      I believe your stated experience but it's not mine as carefully described in the article. I can and did honestly state my case. And I would add that the iPads are nothing like the Surfaces.
    • The difference

      is that Windows uses the extra resolution to display more information. Generally the iPad just improves the sharpness of the text.

      I have to say, having used a Retina and non-Retina iPad next to each other, I had to look twice to notice any difference. I think this comes down to the individual, I find the fonts on my iMac and my old iPhone slightly blurry and even with the retina display that bluriness remains.

      On a Windows tablet the fonts are sharper and I can see a difference with a higher DPI with larger font sizes. I can also immediately see when the display is set to the wrong resolution, because everything is blurred.

      For me, the Apple Retina display just means that the text is slightly less blurred = still uncomfortable to read.

      This all comes down to the way that Apple and Microsoft chose to display fonts. The Apple method causes a nervous tick in the corner of my left eye (weaker eye), whilst I find the sharpness of the Microsoft method suits my eyes and I can work for long periods of time on the display without any adverse affects.

      I am sure you can find just as many people who will argue the counter point, that the MS method leads to a spider scrawl that is aesthetically unappealing and they much prefer the Apple method, which is more true to the way the fonts would be rendered on paper.

      At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference and some people just don't see as big an effect with Retina as others. For thems the Retina is a "nice to have", but not necessary feature.
  • fair enough

    This is precisely the reason why I still use my iPad3 and iPad 2 -- they offer great value for what they are. While the new models offer significant improvements, and some features I lust after, there is nothing I particularly need that they solve.

    The iPad Air is another story...
  • I understand the logic completely

    Whils't I personally don't use Apple product, I tend to look at upgrades purely in terms of hardware.
    I still use the Galaxy S2. Why? It's rooted and running JB4.3.1, so better than almost any phone you could buy. Likewise the Ipad Mini has iOS7, so no software advantages
    So just with hardware changes to consider, you tend to have a hard time justifying an upgrade for a slightly finer screen, and a better processor that probably wouldn't make much difference at all in day to day use.
  • Kudos James, iOS devices are such a waste of money.

    Window 8 is now mature enough, the one and only device anybody need and at the fraction of the price of an iOS device.

    Apple greed will lead to its demise... with no expandable memory on any apple device and charging rip-off prices for devices with more memory will only work for fools.

    Also say no to privacy invasion devices aka Google software and devices.
    • Simple Economics

      This is no different than what occured with Apple years ago. They will resolve to their niche status in the next year or two.

      There is simply not enough Apple fanboys to keep the company at their current level profitable. In such a hyper competive vertical like mobile they are losing the low end market and they are not innovative enough on the high end. So unless Apple is going to reduce the margin they like to enjoy and go after market share, they will like others deal with the scraps and have 5-10% of the market. Enough for a solid business but all these retail stores won't be needed.
    • Windows 8 is not a subject of this article

      And JK already has one.
    • Life could not be tougher at the moment

      And I desperately needed something to cheer me.

      "Windows 8 is mature" gave me the laugh that I needed. All day, every time I felt sad, I just thought of those words. Truly, it is an idiotic statement!
      • Actually...

        He said "Windows 8 is now mature..." I guess it wasn't before.
  • Personally...

    I won't jump on board because it is over priced! Was going to upgrade but, it doesn't offer anything that competitors aren't offering for nearly half the price.
    • Precisely

      That's why I bought a Kindle Fire HDX 32GB so that I have something that cost a lot less and has as good of performance and picture quality. I believe Apple now has some real competition...
      • iPad vs Kindle vs Nexus

        I own both a iPad 4 and a Nexus 7. Have tried Kindle Fire. I'm sticking with my iPad and either gifting the Nexus or selling it. The scrolling on the Nexus drives me crazy. Compared to my iPad, it's jerky and the screen is not nearly as responsive. I barely tap my iPad to turn pages in the Kindle app, for instance, but often have to tap twice to get the Nexus to respond. So each to his own I suppose.
        Steven Williams
  • Your last paragraph/note says it all.

    "I doubt a new iPad mini would improve this experience in a significant way"

    It doesn't make sense to upgrade if the need doesn't exist.

    If I was doing a display someplace where I was showing images on a iPad mini, the better display would be a good investment and likely worth the money to buy a new iPad.

    If I used it primarily to check email and similar things, better to keep the cash in my pocket as the "standard" non-retina tablet displays are more then adequate for those tasks.
  • 1st gen mini was already great.

    The latest just makes it even greater. I was waiting for Apple to release the second gen mini before jumping onboard but truthfully after playing around with the first gen mini, I would be just as happy buying it over the latest. Just the fact that you now have a choice of getting the best or the second best mini is a plus. With them now leaving the older gen models in the market for sale at a reduced price. Something I wanted them to do since the iPod 'classic' (and nano) days.

    "Note: This article was written using the original iPad mini and the ZAGG keyboard shown in the image above. I doubt a new iPad mini would improve this experience in a significant way."

    You need to stop showing that you can do #realwork on your tablets. As we already know, only Windows Surface tabletPC running Microsoft Office are able to do #realWORK.