At just 7.4mm it is a truly slim device. Combine that with the 135mm width, and this is a tablet that you can support between the fingers and thumb of one hand.
At 307g in weight it has wafer-like lightness. This puts it in excellent stead as an eBook reader, since it weighs less than most paperbacks. It's about the same size as an A5 sheet of paper.
iPad mini: Build and finish
Build quality is outstanding. It feels absolutely rigid – the all-aluminium backplate and frame melds into the front glass to make an unyielding featherlight slice.
The back presents as smooth satin aluminium, Apple logo centred, and with a few essential buttons on one rounded edge, two for volume and a power key on top. These are positive and assured to the touch.
There’s a headset jack on top, and a new tiny Lightning port at the bottom. Either side are perforations for two stereo speakers.
iPad mini: specs and screen
The iPad mini uses the same Apple A5 processor as last year’s iPad 2, with the same 1024 x 768-pixels condensed into a smaller space than the 9.7 inches of the iPad 2. So where both the original iPad and iPad 2 had a resolution of 132 pixels per inch, the iPad mini raises its pixel density to 163 pixels per inch. Sure enough the display is not as sharp as the swelling catalogue of hardware that Apple now sells with a Retina specification.
On-screen text at small font sizes can be a little furry.
The display is still IPS, with all the rich colours and spectacularly wide viewing angles we’ve come to expect from the screen technology, once the preserve of high-end graphic design monitors.
iPad mini: connectivity
The iPad mini has dual-band Wi-Fi, allowing it to roam across the less-crowded 5GHz radio band. Apple also lists channel bonding in its spec, where two adjacent 20MHz channels are combined to make a 40Hz channel for potentially greater throughput.
The cellular option for the iPad mini should allow it to use ‘4G’ services.
iPad mini: verdict
This is a supremely well-built mini tablet that will almost certainly be a runaway hit with consumers. The smaller, dare we say cuter, size makes it nearly ideal as an eBook reader, as well as a device for all the other manifold tasks that are now possible from a collosal number of useful apps ready to install.