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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

iPad mini - First Impressions

I started my new job this weekend and i picked up an iPad mini as a little present to myself.

This article contains my first impressions after a few hours of use. I’m curious with how it compares to the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5.

Size & Weight

I’m a big fan of the iPad mini’s design. Its simple and elegant, thin and light. In use it feels lighter than the iPhone 5.

The light weight means it’s more comfortable to hold over long periods. Unlike the iPad 3, I can easilly sit holding the iPad mini in one hand.

It works really well for reading in bed!


At launched much was written about the iPad minis lack of a retina screen. And it’s true. The non retina display is kinda jarring.

However after an hour or so I have adapted. I’m sure (like with my 11” Air) I’m going to be keen to upgrade when the retina model lands but this screen works fine.

With my glasses on and the iPad on my lap, I cannot make out any pixels. When reading the web i’m using tap to zoom to bring the font size up then hold it further from my face. This has proved to be comfortable to read.


I vastly prefer the typing experience on the iPad mini. The full iPad is a little to large for me to type on with my thumbs. This mini works much better, I found myself instantly picking up the layout. I have not tested it back to back but right now I feel quicker typing on the mini than the full size iPad

One things which has got me thrown is the ratio of the keyboard to status bar, on the iPad mini the status bar feels really skinny. I have gotten use to it now, but at first it felt really inelegant.


Performance is my biggest disappointed so far. The iPad mini feels slow and clunky compared to an iPhone 5.

Routine operation on the iPad mini has a slight lag, it’s not huge but it is noticeable. This has manifest most in safari mobile. Even on a fast connection the iPad mini shows a noticable rendering delay.

On complex pages I can see tiles being rendered as I scroll and its easy to over scroll and need to wait for the page to catch up. It’s much like scrolling on the iPhone 3G.

This does surprise me, the same CPU in the iPad 3 and iPhone 4S seems capable but here it seems easy to overload. Further to this I frequently see web pages reloading after I swap apps. On my iPhone I have becomes accustomed to being able to leave tabs open. But on the iPad mini tabs seems to be reloaded every time I switch apps.

Value for money

Performance commentary aside, I’m pretty impressed with this little box of tricks.

I brought the base model with a view to a quick upgrade next year. At less than half the cost of my last iPad its a relative bargain. Arguably, it’s a less capable device, but overal i prefer the smaller form factor and lower price.

Obstensively the iPad mini is using “old tech”, however it is very usable. I feel the iPad mini provides good value when you take into account the content and app ecosystem.


So in short. The design is elegant, the screen is workable, the performance acceptable, but it’s price is perfect.

Published: 11 May 2013 | Categories: , Permalink


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