Apple Announces the new iPad Mini

Posted on October 23, 2012

It’s been a while coming, and here it is, the new iPad mini. It’s an 8inch tablet, smaller than its 10inch big brother but larger than the 4 inch iPhone. Here are a few initial thoughts on the device:

Size

It’s so much smaller and handier than the standard iPad. I certainly think it will be great for a whole lot of uses, especially reading books where the iPad still seems large and the iPhone is small. The smaller size makes it much more portable too, which will lead to a lot of new business applications.

Networking

Yes, the new iPad Mini has LTE – this is big for businesses that like the portability of the iPad mini, but need an always on network connection for it to function. Expect to see many more out in the wild, especially with accessories such as a square reader for taking payments.

Bezel

The Bezel on the sides of the iPad Mini has been made smaller compared with that of the top and bottom. It’s almost as if Apple wanted to remove it to make the device smaller. I do worry that not having the bezel will make the iPad Mini a big difficult to hold, and lead to un-intended interactions with the screen.

Screen Size and Applications

Apple announced that the iPad mini would have the same screen resolution as a first and second generation iPad with a smaller size. This means that touch-targets will become physically smaller. That may not be an issue for most software, but I think some applications will need reworking to be optimum for the iPad mini. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that developers of major applications will take the time to create specific iPad mini versions. Moreover, new applications may be designed for the mini and then scaled up to the iPad standard.

Which iPad will be the most popular, the standard or the iPad mini?

In a few years, which iPad can we expect to be the most popular on the market? I totally expect that the answer to this will be the iPad Mini. At a lower price-point, more people will choose to buy it, and I think it will be a very effective device for those upgrading to better hardware from a full-sized iPad. Hence starting to design now with the iPad mini in mind as the main device on the market would be worthwhile.

Build Quality

Apple tends to spread innovation from one device into others. Here, some of the technics that were developed for the iPhone 5 appear to have been incorporated into the iPad mini. Indeed, Phil Schiller during the Apple event was at pains to go over how much the iPad was a high quality device, especially when compared to the competition. This is an important segue to…

Price of the iPad Mini

At $329, the price of the iPad mini is considerably more expensive than some people had hoped, especially with competing 7 inch devices retailing for around the $200 mark. In reality, the device most people should go for is the 32GB Wifi version, and that will retail for $429. Add to that a smartcover at $49 and you’re in for nearly $500. That’s quite a sum of money and a big gap with the Kindle Fire HD, for example. Here’s the thing though, for businesses, that’s probably less of a big deal as there are a lot of ancillary costs to devices, through support, reliability and performance. That gap can easily be caught up.

On the consumer side, if you already have Apple products, you’ll pay because you’re in the ecosystem. For new customers, they may see it as a cheaper iPad rather than an expensive 7inch tablet.

As Steve Jobs would say: Apple wouldn’t know how to build a $199 tablet….

Speaking of Steve Jobs

U-turn if you want to…. Steve said a few years ago that a 7inch tablet would be too small and that they’d be dead on arrival. They have been, except for the Kindle Fire, arguably. But no mention today of the fact that Steve suggested thinner finger were necessary for smaller tablets. I’m surprised that wasn’t addressed! Hey, 8inches is not 7inches. As Phil Schiller said, there is 35% more screen real estate on an iPad mini when compared with an Android Tablet.

The Android Phone Advantage

Android phones have been seen one of their major selling points of having a larger screen than the iPhone. Yet, in the tablet market, the iPad’s advantage, and one reason you should shell out an extra $100, is that it has a larger screen….

Summary of the iPad Mini

It is great that Apple has a device of this form factor and it will please a great many people and companies as they find an increasing amount of new uses for it over and above the standard iPad.