It might look the same as the original, but the second-generation iPad mini has some serious upgrades. The screen is the most obvious: the high resolution brings all the sharpness and clarity we’ve come to expect from Retina-equipped iPads. See also: iPad mini vs iPad mini 2 comparison review
Second, the internals have been overhauled and brought bang up to date. Essentially, this is an iPad Air, reviewed, with an 8-inch screen. It’s everything the original iPad mini should have been.
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iPad mini 2 review: Screen
We can’t overstate how much of a difference the new screen makes. Having four times more pixels means photos and videos look crisp, as does text when you’re reading a book or web page.
Holding old and new iPad minis side by side, the difference in clarity is easy to appreciate. Characters and lines are no longer fuzzy and, since the display is smaller than the iPad Air’s, everything looks even sharper. In short, it’s the best iPad screen we’ve seen to date.
iPad mini 2 review: Design
Not much has changed in terms of dimensions or design. Why mess with a winning formula?
The iPad mini is slightly thicker than the original, but it isn’t noticeable. There are weight gains, too. The Wi-Fi model is 23g heavier and the cellular model 29g.
However, holding the new iPad mini in one hand for long periods really isn’t that difficult. Do bear in mind that it’s a lot wider than a Nexus 7, though, so clamping it between your thumb and forefinger is the best way: iOS 7 is intelligent enough to work out when you’re doing this and ignores your thumb pressing against the screen.
iPad mini 2 review: Performance and specifications
Where the original iPad mini was underpowered, the new model is a powerhouse. Plus, the 64-bit processor makes it more future-proof.
In our benchmarks, we saw great results throughout. It means the new mini is as good for playing the latest games as for browsing the web or editing video in iMovie.
There's good news if you like to keep vast libraries of music, videos and photos on your iPad as capacities range from 16 to 128GB. As ever, this isn't expandable.
iPad mini 2 review: Software
The iPad mini 2 comes with iOS 7. And you’re entitled to download Apple’s apps for free, including iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand and Pages.
Unfortunately, you don’t get the iPhone 5s’s slo-mo video mode nor the burst photo mode in the camera app.
iPad mini 2 review: Cameras
There's no major change in the camera department, with a 5Mp iSight snapper on the rear and an improved webcam on the front.
In our tests, we found precious little difference between shots taken on the original mini and the new version. It’s the same story with the front camera, except in low light where there was less noise.
Videos shot on the new iPad mini were noticeably sharper when viewed on an HD TV. And - thanks to the new rear-mounted microphone – audio quality was also much improved.
iPad mini 2 review: Verdict:
The new iPad mini is a fabulous tablet. The screen is excellent and makes the minimal weight gain more than worth it. Performance is also excellent, and the 64-bit processor makes this much more future-proof than the original iPad mini, just in case you’re having trouble choosing between the two. The old mini is cheaper, but the new version is still great value, especially when you compare it to the iPad Air.