IPad mini 4

IOS 9 helps make the lit­tle iPad big news once again

Mac Format - - RATED -

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.

Im­pos­si­bly thin

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.

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