Ergonomics

We’ve always thought the iPad was on the heavier side for prolonged use, particularly for one handed use. This was something more true for the 1st/3rd/4th gen iPads than for the comparatively svelte iPad 2, but at 1.33-1.5lbs, they were all too heavy for truly ultramobile use . The mini changes that in a big way, introducing a chassis that has 60% of the footprint and 47% of the weight of the latest 4th gen iPad in a 25% thinner frame, but even versus the iPad 2, the mini is a featherweight. It’s thinner than both the 4th generation iPod touch and iPhone 5, though not as ridiculous as the 6.1mm frame of the latest iPod touch. At 7.2mm thick and 0.68lbs, the mini has the size and weight part absolutely nailed.


From top to bottom: iPod Touch (5th gen), iPad mini, iPad 2, iPad 4

Part of this is due to the smaller screen, but the bezel around the display has also been whittled down significantly, particularly on the sides, so it’s actually possible to grip in portrait mode with one hand if you don’t have particularly small hands. I wouldn’t necessarily call it comfortable to do, certainly not as natural as on a 7” 16:10 widescreen Android tablet. It’s definitely possible, but about 10mm too wide to do it properly.

The best way that I found, actually, was to hold it like a paperback book - pinky underneath for vertical support, thumb on the side for horizontal support, and the rest of the hand spread across the back. The mini is actually light enough that this is a perfectly natural way to do it no matter which hand you prefer holding the tablet in.

It’s just an absolute joy to carry, the weight and thickness really make a big difference in the ergonomics as well as the portability. The footprint, too, has opened up some more mobile use-cases. You can easily use the iPad mini when walking around, something I found exceedingly difficult to do with the 9.7” iPad or any other 9-10” tablet without looking out of place and feeling like I was going to drop it every time I tried to walk at a normal, semi-rushed urban pace. The mini fits more readily in car gloveboxes and center console bins too, and it generally is a much more handy device.


iPad mini (left) vs Nexus 7 (right)

It’s about a centimeter too wide to fit into the back pockets of my jeans and about 5mm too much for the inside pocket of my jacket, but with baggier clothes it's a non-issue. The N7 does fit into my jeans, though not comfortably (is there any situation in which a pocketed tablet does?). The mini will fit really easily in most purses, and fits in most suit jacket inner pockets, so it’s about as portable as you can get. I already have CES plans that involve stashing a mini in my suit and relying on that and my phone for web publishing from the show floor.

If you’re familiar with 7” Android tablets or, my previous favorite portable tablet form factor, the 7.7” devices from Samsung and Toshiba, this really isn’t news. The smaller tablets, particularly the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Tab 7.7/7.0+, have excelled at bringing a content consumption experience that is as good or better their larger 10.1” counterparts in a cheaper, more portable package. This is new to iOS though. Previously, there was a pretty gaping hole between the pocket-friendly iPod touch/iPhone and the notepad-sized iPad, and I think the mini does a great job of filling that hole. It’s smaller than the iPad by enough to make it worth considering for the size alone, but not enough to take away from the user experience, and that makes it all the more tempting.

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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    That's not exactly true, the iPad mini was launched nearly a month ago, our review of it is very late. In the interim I have published articles on Intel's SSD DC S3700, Microsoft's Surface, the Titan Supercomputer at ORNL and Samsung's Cortex A15 based Chromebook.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Alucard291 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    No offence but you could have just said - "same soc as ipad 2. Same display as ipad 2 except smaller so pixels are slightly denser Its lighter than ipad 2 and has the same form factor but smaller."

    There I wrote the review for you.

    Instead you guys put out this monster - showing tests? Of the same soc? Again?

    Well one more review site feels the need to get some apple advertisement revenue.

    And I approve how you compared it to mini cooper. Yeah great comparison especially since mini cooper is a car for people who can't afford a decent one but really want to seem cool...

    So yeah. What makes this product great is the apple logo on the back. As usual.
    Reply
  • Jakers Ugly Brother - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    It would be so nice to read one single tech thread without running into a paranoid "Oh noes another site has sold out to Apple" screed like yours.

    But no, you haters have to spread your sick, sad bile across everything you see.

    Thanks for lowering the signal to noise ratio of yet another comment section.
    Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Anandtech's Microsoft Surface review was up 3 days before the device was on sale and their Windows RT review was up the day before it shipped. The iPad Mini review comes 18 days after the tablet went on sale and they aren't or haven't yet done an iPad 4 (18+ days) or 5th gen iPod Touch (36+ days) review. From this you conclude that Apple reviews get done right away and Microsoft reviews take forever?

    Ryan already explained why they aren't doing a massive review for Windows 8 and are doing more focused articles instead, which doesn't seem unreasonable.
    Reply
  • blacksamurai30 - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    I don't see the reasoning behind your dissapointment. I've been reading for years (despite my only just making an account haha); they are easily the most informative on the internet. The crew here does stellar indepth reviews for pretty much everything. Don't use your own personal misgivings against Apple in an attempt to discredit the hard work that goes into reviewing these products, or the invaluable service it does for the internet and consumer knowledge.

    Keep up the good work Anandtech!
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Wow, honest mistake, let me reshoot that real quick. I shot that before I left for SC12 and didn't catch it in my final assembly of the article today.

    If anything, the photo I posted is contrary to the point I make in the text above. Things are bigger on the iPad compared to the Nexus 7.

    Give me a few and I'll get a better photo up.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Kepe - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    The same thing happened in two pictures. On pages 4 and 11, although that's the same image file.

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Fixed in both places. Thank you! Reply
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    and now you have to update the tags..

    for example. the last page, ipad mini is actually on the right. i am sure no one would mistaken those two, but still.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    Fixed. The black mini wasn't mine so I no longer had that for comparison, had to use the white model for this shot - but I hope this better shows the difference. I also exported the full size shots at 2800px wide if you want to get a better, up-close look between the N7 and iPad mini.

    I included two shots on the display page, but here's a link to all 4 I just took:

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...
    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...
    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...
    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/tablets/apple/...

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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