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

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.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

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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