‘Perfect’ is a strong word, but one that we wouldn’t hesitate to attribute to Apple’s iPad Mini 2. From its richly-rewarding back catalogue of apps to its exceptional screen, it definitely offers good value for money.
The original iPad Mini was undoubtedly a trail-blazing tablet, as it emerged as Apple's first combatant in the smaller tablet wars. However, it was the iPad Mini 2 that changed the game, thanks to its powerful specification and an A7 chipset that elevates performance onto an entirely new and exalted level. Also superb for gaming and blessed with Apple's trademark Retina Display, a refurbished Apple iPad Mini 2 remains a viable player in the market to this day.
At first glance, the iPad Mini 2 looks almost identical to its predecessor, as while it may be a little heavier and thicker it retains Apple's iconic and genuinely beautiful design. Significant upgrades have been made beneath the bonnet of the second generation iPad Mini, however, creating a faster, slicker and more powerful device that also benefits from the type of screen quality usually reserved for Apple's larger tablet range.
The story goes that Apple wanted to install its much-vaunted Retina Display in the original iPad Mini, but the brand was struggling to achieve this on a budget. However, there are no such issues with its second generation tablet, which is considerably more expensive and far more compatible with Apple's display tech.
To this end, the Mini 2's 9.7-inch screen boasts high definition and a much-improved resolution of 1536x2048 pixels, creating authentic colouring and optimal image sharpness in equal measure. This resolution works particularly when browsing the web or accessing one of the 425,000-or so native iOS apps that were accessible through the device at launch, while the additional pixels also lend themselves to a more immersive gaming experience.
The iPad Mini range has always faced issues in terms of its sizing, and we definitely wouldn't recommend attempting to hold the tablet in a single palm for an extended period of time. However, the iPad Mini 2 remains relatively light and comfortable in the hand, while its aluminium-clad frame manages to appear both robust and premium at the same time. Combined with a smooth covering, neatly machined speaker holes and elegantly curved edges, this contributes to a typically sleek design that has become Apple's trademark down the years.
We mentioned the word 'flawless' earlier, and this is the only way to describe a tablet that enables users to multitask so seamlessly across a huge array of tasks. In benchmarking terms, the iPad Mini 2 performs only slightly worse than the much-vaunted iPad Air, with the device scoring an impressive 2,220 on GeekBench 3's real-word testing that focuses on performance and speed during usage. The much improved Apple A7 chipset and 6,470mAh contribute heavily to this, enabling you to make the most of the huge array of apps available through the iPad Mini 2.
At first glance, you'll see that the iPad Mini 2 houses a battery unit that's 50% bigger than its predecessor, but the question that remains is whether this translates into superior performance? It's the larger power pack that has increased the thickness and weight of this tablet (albeit marginally), and the good news is that it can last for a couple of days on a single charge during moderate use.
When combining email reading, TV streaming and a brief period of gaming during testing, the battery only drained by around 20% on average and this should provide peace of mind to users. However, it's fair to say that the smaller iPad Mini battery performs around 3% better on average, and while this difference is negligible it's largely the result of the higher display resolution on the second generation tablet.
Tablets simply aren't designed to take regular pictures, even smaller iterations such as the iPad Mini 2. Despite this, the second generation tablet includes a relatively impressive 5MP rear lens, which has a number of features that should appeal to amateur photographers. The ability to 'lock' autofocus and optimise exposure is certainly useful, particularly in portrait mode when it's incredibly easy to capture stabilised images that do their subject justice. In essence, the camera app here is a stripped-down version of the iPhone 5S app, which also features HDR mode for filtering and optimising your most precious pics.
We must admit that we're huge fans of the iPad Mini 2, which represents a huge upgrade on its predecessor and should be considered as a true warrior in the surprisingly competitive battle of smaller tablets. The integration of Apple's Retina Display is central to the tablet's impressive specification, while the much-improved camera app and superb interface provides outstanding value even at a slightly higher price point.