IPad mini 4
IOS 9 helps make the little iPad big news once again
We slated the iPad mini 3 last year for being a weak upgrade to the Retina iPad mini 2. Its addition of Touch ID only wouldn’t have been such a blow if it wasn’t for the iPad Air 2 getting an all-round upgrade. The original Air and iPad mini 2 were identical apart from form factor, so the mini 3 felt like a backwards step while the Air 2 leapt forward. Apple has corrected the line-up now, giving us the mini we wanted last year, but actually at a time that’s more suitable now.
Why? It’s all to do with iOS 9. Having the iPad Air 2 as the only iOS device capable of using the new system’s
Split View and Picture in Picture modes (it’ll be joined by the iPad Pro in November) just didn’t make sense. The mini is very popular and those new iOS 9 features are big updates that iPad users will really want to use. The new mini has similar guts to the iPad Air 2 (and some cosmetic changes we discuss later on) and it shows off iOS 9 in all its glory. This is one very fast iPad, and even though the tech is a year old, it took serious engineering to rework it to fit in this diminutive housing.
In minor generational upgrades Apple doesn’t like to mess with dimensions too much, apart from making devices thinner. But here the 18% reduction in depth (now just 6.1mm) has had the effect of adding 3mm to the height due to rearranged internals. So old cases are generally a no-go if you wanted to upgrade from a mini 2 or 3. You really don’t notice that extra length, but you do notice the thinness, it’s as ridiculously thin and light as Apple claims in its advertising slogans. Not that the old minis were generally a portability problem, but this is the chuck-in-a-bag iPad you’ve always wanted. Super-thin, but it feels less delicate than previous models. That’s partly due to the air gap reduction in the screen – something the Air 2 rectified from the first Air.
Elsewhere, the external changes are minor but there’s no Mute/Lock switch; they are now virtual options in Control Centre.
Mini but mighty
The mini 4’s new internals include the A8 and M8 processors found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The Air 2 had the A8X of course, so this mini is not exactly on par with its bigger sibling, which was evident in our tests. Using the GeekBench app, we clocked the mini 4 at an average of 3046 on the multi-core test, narrowly beating the iPhone 6 but still a bit behind the iPad Air 2’s A8X. The inclusion of 2GB of RAM helps elevate the mini 4 beyond what the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are capable of – but we’re talking tiny performance gains in real life here. Essentially, this is just as powerful as the iPad Air 2 in real world use, and with iOS 9 it has superb all-round performance for managing documents, editing photos, and videos and games.
It’s new features in iOS 9 which are exclusive to the top-end iPads that are the new mini’s biggest draw. Split View is a wonderful new way to use your iPad, enabling you to have two apps open at once and usable at the same time. We still found it a nice addition indeed, but the screen size is much reduced on an iPad mini, making it awkward at times to be truly productive with two apps. It’s better suited to Mail and Calendar than Safari and Photos.
Previous minis have lacked the
You really don’t notice the body’s extra length, but you do notice its thinness – it’s ridiculously thin and light
colour accuracy of the iPad Air 2 and recent iPhones. This is no longer the case; there’s a clear gamut change here, offering much more vibrant colours. The mini 4 also has the same anti-reflective screen as the iPad Air 2, which helps in bright light situations. As for battery life, it easily matched Apple’s quote of 10 hours of surfing the web or playing music or video. Christian Hall
The new mini supports Picture in Picture mode with the Videos app and iOS 9’s Safari.
The Mute/Lock switch found on previous iPad minis has been replaced by virtual controls.