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Apple iPad mini 2

A few years ago, Apple finally released an iPad Mini that had a Retina Display, and it was marketed as the “iPad mini with Retina display.” It was later rebranded as the iPad mini 2 after the iPad mini 3 was announced. It was originally $399 for the 16 GB model, but like many Apple products, the price goes down after a newer model is announced, and then it's eventually dropped. It’s $269 now, and is currently offered as the cheaper more price-competitive alternative to the iPad mini 4, which is $399. You can also buy cellular service for it for more, but I didn’t have a cellular plan, nor could I afford one.



Color Selection


When buying it, other than engraving a message on the back of it, you have only two choices on its appearance: Space Gray, a darker appearance, or Silver, which is lighter colored. I thought Silver looked too plasticky and white, so I picked Space Gray. I really wish there were more choices, preferably something that's not grayscale. The best you can really customize it with is with a cover that you have to buy separate.



Using it


Using it is great. The device itself is quite small, and it’s very light. I can easily grip both the left and right sides when held in a portrait orientation with just one hand. It’s one of the most comfortable devices I’ve ever used. While it’s not the latest iPad mini, it is very capable without any noticeable slowdowns. Web browsing on it is excellent, too, especially thanks to gestures which is standard on most touch devices now. Note that the back can noticeably heat up if you play games, though it’s never been enough for it to be even close to being uncomfortable.


One of my favorite features of iOS is push notifications. They are app-based, and exist for things like chat mentions, private messages, etc. These notifications appear at the top of the screen when they occur, or on the lock screen for later. I find this feature very useful, and I use it a lot for apps like Steam and Discord.





There is a large variety of useful apps available for the iPad. Some of them are meant for productivity, like iWork and Office 365. There are also apps for chatting, like Steam. VoIP utilities like Discord and Skype are also available with all of their features for free and also support push notifications. TeamSpeak is available, but you have to buy it for $4.99. There are also games and other types of software. Basically, it's the stuff you'd expect to be available for mobile platforms. If it didn't have apps, then the whole thing would be pointless.


As strong of a quality control you want to think that Apple has, I have run across some buggy apps, or apps that just don’t do what they’re advertised to do. The reviewing system is pretty useful, though I’ve also come across some apps that were given 1 star reviews for no reason.



Retina display


Being originally marketed as the “iPad mini with Retina display” rather than the iPad mini 2, it has a beautiful Retina display at a resolution of 2048 x 1536 (or 1536 x 2048 depending on how the screen is orientated). At such a high pixel density, it’s very hard to see any of the individual pixels even close-up. This makes text clear, as they are being rendered at a high resolution, making web browsing much better. It also allows one to watch 1080p HD videos without scaling down as the dimensions are greater than 1920 x 1080. Honestly, it’s hard to describe the experience with a Retina display using a combination of English words, but it's a pretty good experience. High DPI screens are something to consider.





The small size and weight of the iPad makes it pretty good for taking photos, but it’s not a substitute for a dedicated camera. The rear facing camera is only good if the lighting is good. If it’s even somewhat dim, it’s noticeably grainy, making things a little hard to make out. One thing that really bothered me about the camera was the lack of an option for left-handed controls. You can lock the orientation of the iPad and just flip it, but the controls are up-side-down (the final picture isn’t, but that isn’t the point). At first, this may not seem that disappointing to the people who are not the 10%. However, left-handed controls may also be helpful for right-handed people as well in certain situations. For instance, if you are trying to take a picture of yourself holding a right-handed mouse, you can’t just hold both the iPad and the object in one hand.


The built-in microphone is fine for non-professional work, but even for someone who is not an audiophile, I think it’s a little foggy. There is an additional microphone, which is meant for noise cancellation and is supposed to improve the quality of Siri as well as voice chatting.


Also, unlike some of the latest iOS devices, the camera is still limited to 1080p at 30FPS. The iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone SE, and 9.7-inch iPad Pro (not the 12.9-inch which has a lower-resolution camera) are capable of recording in 3840 x 2160 @ 30 FPS, 1080p @ 60 FPS or 120 FPS (Slo-mo), and 720p @ 240 FPS (Slo-mo). The iPad mini 2 also lacks a timer or burst mode which is present in later iterations of the iPad. 



Storage options


For storage space, you can also choose between 16 GB or 32 GB. You should choose the one based on your needs, as the extra space costs $50. However, be careful with your choice, as you cannot officially upgrade the storage space afterwards. To make it easier to choose, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:


Do I…

  • …not really care about storing pictures, music, movies, or videos?
  • …not mind my remaining storage space measured in single digit gigabytes no matter what?


You know I'm not taking any of those questions seriously, because I think it’s silly that Apple is still continuing to offer 16 GB models as the base model for their iOS devices in the year 2016. While it's forgivable for a $270 tablet, devices as expensive as their $749 iPhone 6S are only 16 GB by default. Sure it’s enough if you’re only just using apps and the web browser. However, you can do most of that on your phone, and you must have a reason for getting the (slightly) bigger tablet, right? Also, if you need those precious gigabytes, you will be displeased to know that the usable space is very much less than the maximum space. According to the Settings app, my iPad’s actual maximum capacity is only 12 GB, which means that 25% of the 16 GB is completely unusable.


Also, you cannot expand upon that storage with memory cards. Like all of Apple’s iOS devices, there is no card slot available for use. While there is an SD card adapter, it can only be used for importing pictures and videos recorded by another device, which would be totally useful if your tablet could actually hold as much data as the SD card. Many tablets support microSD cards, and have supported these cards for years, so the only logical reason I can think of for this is so Apple can get you to pay extra. Are they going to take out all of the USB ports from the Macbook next? Oh.


You do get 5 GB for free with iCloud, but it requires an Internet connection, which means you can't run apps directly off of it. You're a lot more limited with iCloud storage than you are with local storage. However, you can access the files on your iCloud storage on your PC.





Basically, for $269, you get a small, portable, and useful computer. Compared to other tablets for the same price, what you get out of it is exceptional. You also don't make very many compromises that you wouldn’t get for buying the newer iPad mini 4, as well, meaning the iPad mini 2 is probably the best price-to-performance iPad that you can buy new from Apple. Like all of Apple’s iOS devices, you are only officially limited to the apps from the App Store, and the same thing can be said about many Android devices, as well. Unfortunately, after all of these years, Apple has still never added any support for expandable local storage, which is something you should expect from pretty much every portable device, even the Nintendo 3DS. Otherwise, it’s a pretty good tablet, and I’ve enjoyed using mine for the past couple of years.



  • Very lightweight and comfortable to hold
  • Very good battery life
  • Beautiful 324 ppi 2048 x 1536 Retina display, around the same pixel density as the iPhone 6S (326 ppi)
  • Good price for performance
  • Full device encryption turned on by default



  • Cannot use memory cards to expand storage
  • The base model only holds 16 GB (12 GB usable) of space, costing $50 more for 32 GB.
  • No left-handed controls for the camera
  • Only two choices for colors, and they're not even colors



  • Apple iPad mini 4 – For $399, you get the same “Apple experience” on something a couple years newer. It comes with a fingerprint sensor, better cameras, and a newer A9X processor. However, the base model is still limited to 16 GB, and it’s also much more expensive to get better storage. I’m not really enthusiastic about that.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A – For $299.99, you get a price-competitive Android tablet that has the same storage size as the iPad mini 2, but it also has a microSD card slot. It just doesn’t have a Retina display. For $100 more, though, you can get the Galaxy Tab S2 which has the same screen resolution as the iPad mini 2 and 4, a fingerprint sensor, and 32 GB of storage, rivaling the iPad mini 4.
  • Microsoft Surface 3 – I usually only list alternatives with similar price and performance, but this device and its bigger brother, the Surface Pro 4, have some features largely unheard of in the iOS and Android ecosystems. For $499, the Surface 3 has the full Windows 10 desktop experience, 64 GB of storage space, and a quad-core Intel Atom x7 processor to boot. The non-Pro version doesn't have a high pixels-per-inch display, but you get a microSD card slot and a Type-A USB 3.0 port. You’re also not limited to the apps from the store, too. How cool is that?

There are a large number of other good tablets to look for at a similar price, but this is a review, not a catalog.

Tucker933 and WaeV like this

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Good writeup!


For reference, DPI values as follows:


iPad Mini = 163

Galaxy Tab = 169

Surface Pro 3 = 216

iPad Mini Retina = 324


Source: http://dpi.lv/


The newer Surface Pro 4 has an even higher pixel density at 267 ppi. It's not as high as the iPad mini 2 (formerly the iPad mini with Retina display) display, but it's a bigger display with more pixels, and it matches the iPad Pro's 264 ppi. It costs over $600 more, but you'd expect it to if it comes with a 6th-generation Intel Core processor and a 128+ GB SSD.

WaeV likes this

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