The iPad Mini Is Not For You

Yesterday Apple introduced the iPad mini. As always I had two different types of people in my Twitter timeline. Those who tried to order it before the keynote was finished and those who explained why the iPad mini is a big disappointment. I believe it is great, just not for "us".

With "us" I mean me and likely everyone who is reading this blog. There are some exceptions, of course. Those who want a small eBook reader without sacrifycing the features of an iPad will be happy with the iPad mini. Everyone else will stick to the iPad as we know it.

iPad mini As eBook Reader

I recently started using my iPad to read a book. First I was not sure if I like a display in front of me or if it will be comfortable enough. I've been reading books for some years now and I am just used to those paper things. It works. Always. They are never low on battery, never required a charger, are instantly on, I do not have to update them and can always read them, not only in areas where books are "allowed". But I thought I should give eBooks a fair chance.

Three days later I am convinced that I will stick to it. It is easier to handle, I do not have to find a light source (I read in my bed most of the time) and, even if it is a lot of fun, I do not have to visit a book store if I do not want to. I also trust Apple to not pull an Amazon on me.

But since I am not one of the biggest book lovers on earth I talked to my spouse. She basically owns more books than every library I know and still believes it is not enough. Books are her shoes. She explained to me that the iPad is nice but a bit too big for her liking to effectively replace a book. So the iPad mini would be ideal for her to replace books - only talking about size and weight, not the fact that some part of her is a little book snob and likely will never joining the digital gang.

No Retina Display

I do not see the lack of a retina display as bad. I still use my iPad first generation to read books. Of course a retina display is nice. But as long as you do not directly compare both displays to each other, the first generation iPad is still fairly good for reading.

Now the iPad mini has the same resolution on a smaller display. PPI are nearer to the retina display, even if still not there. We have to wait till someone actually uses the device to know if it is "near enough".

Features, Specs and Quality

I had a short tweet-exchange with Jeff Croft. He is not really a big fan of the specs. There is no point in arguing, he is right.

This little piece of tech is not bleeding edge. It does not have a retina display. It is not the fastest tablet the world has ever seen. It is small. It is a full featured iOS device. It is cheap compared to its "big brothers". It is a device you buy if you want iOS and not pay half a monthly income.

But the big difference to other tablets or eBook readers is iOS. I cannot stress this enough. Full featured iOS device for ~$300. If you really only want to read eBooks you have to decide if you want Amazon DRM or Apple. Hard decision when you can go for Apple and get both services and some more iOS magic.

What is not questionable is the iPad mini vs all other Android devices around $200-$300. I want quality. Not plastic. It is that easy. Most cheap tablets I hold in my hands so far were… cheap. You notice it when you hold them, when you touch them and when you type on them.

Target Group

Even if the specs are not premium the overall quality still is. And this is another big selling point. You get Apple quality and software for a low entry price.

Most people I have seen being disappointed by the iPad mini are tech-savvy. They know what a CPU is, they know what a retina display is and they do more than just reading a mail and a book or sometimes visiting a homepage to see if their favorite sports team won.

You can consider the iPad mini an gateway drug. You want iOS and Apple quality but you are still not sold on it. Now you do not discuss if you can spare > $500. You think about $300. It makes a big difference.

If you take away all the tech stuff we all love (and just look at use cases and money you have to spend to get a device which is capable of fulfilling your needs) the iPad mini magically appears to make sense.

I Am Not Disappointed

But I still will not buy it. I do not have to optimize applications for another display resolution, I am comfortable with a bigger screen and I want retina. It is easy. The big one.

My parents on the other hand just read some mails, sometimes visit a sports site, look at a power point presentation or FaceTime with me. Do they need all those fancy features, specs and power? No.

Maybe Kenneth Reitz is right, at least it could be possible and I see a chance that this will happen.

Let us be honest. Most people do not need a computer. They need an email client and a browser on a device they cannot break or mess up. Overall quality and usability are more important than specs.


The iPad mini is great for people who do not care about specs, want a tool for a limited range of certain tasks and are not willing to pay a lot of money to get a device for trivial things which has features they do not care about. Everyone else will stick to its bigger brothers.

>> posted on Oct. 24, 2012, midnight in apple, review