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With the cool-to-the-touch aluminium build, rounded edges and machined speaker grilles come the sheer terror of scratching or knocking it against your laptop, coffee cup or stray bony elbows. The Mini was such a phenomenal piece of design – as important to Apple’s future slates as the i Phone 4 was to its smartphones – that not only is it almost identical on the second Mini but the 9.7in i Pad Air is now just an oversized version of the smaller tab too.You honestly won’t notice either of these changes to the dimensions as they’re fairly tiny.
The 7.9in Apple i Pad Mini made a jaw-dropping first impression when it arrived last year and a disappointing, nose-scrunching second one. It’s also smooth enough to slip from the hand if you don’t rest those corners firmly in your palm creases.
Cooing over the slim, light and elegant design we could hardly believe our luck, brain cells frantically bashing into one another to try to make sense of tablet hardware this impeccable. And saw a 1024x768 i OS homescreen of comparatively fuzzy icons and text – the likes of which we thought we’d left behind with the i Phone 3GS. Everything becomes the enemy, your own butter fingers included.
We understood that Apple had to do something to keep costs from spiralling out of control, but we were also a little heartbroken. All year we’ve been commending tablets with the caveat that the Retina Mini should be showing up sooner or later to blow them out of the water. That’s why, criminal as it is, most Mini buyers will probably end up housing the i Pad Mini’s famous form (now in Space Grey and Silver) in a case – at least Apple’s own Smart Case doesn’t add too much bulk.
Cupertino had given us a taste of this smaller, leaner i Slate and as soon as we had it in our hands, we knew exactly what we wanted: an i Pad Mini with a Retina display. So now that our fantasy tab is here - at the not-so dreamy starting price of £320 - can the i Pad Mini 2 possibly live up to our expectations? It’s a touch heavier and a smidgeon thicker than last year’s model – 331g and 7.5mm versus the originals’ vital stats of 312g and 7.2mm.
But compared to the bigger i Pad, this is a much niftier bit of kit.
The Air is now thinner and lighter, but there’s no denying a 9.7in screen still takes up a fair bit of space. It’s not quite as pocketable as the Google Nexus 7 or Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7in (the two main rivals we’ve been comparing it to).
Occasionally you’re going to decide it’s too big to take out and will leave it on the bedside table at home. It’s not quite as light, either - though all three are light enough to hold for much longer periods than a 10in tab.
And both 7in slates are more comfortable to type on with two hands than the Mini, too. Because that extra screen space, especially the big vertical chunk, really does change how you use the i Pad compared to its Android rivals.
This upgrade is all about the screen, and boy, what a screen it is.