iPad Mini 2 release, price, specs, reviews and benchmarks: Everything you need to know

News Richard Goodwin 17:45, 3 Dec 2013

We round up all the iPad Mini 2 release, price and specs news into one neat package

Only a year after the release of the first mini tablet offering from Apple, the iPad Mini 2 is now avaliable to buy from the web store.

One aspect of the original iPad Mini which recieved the most praise was the sleek design so Apple has opted to leave that alone and instead concentrated on a bunch of other areas.

This time around the iPad Mini 2 hosts a high-resolution Retina display panel for fantastic visuals and is as strong as it's full-size iPad sibling when it comes to specs, as it contains the same super-fast A7 processor upgrade.

On this page, we provide  you with everything we know about the iPad Mini 2 including specifications, pricing, availability, benchmarks, initial impressions from a handful of publications and much, much more.

We're looking to get the iPad Mini 2 in for a review as soon as possible so keep your eyes peeled for that appearing on the site in the coming weeks. In the meantime though head on down the page for everything you need to know about the iPad Mini 2.

iPad Mini with Retina Display in short supply on Black Friday

Apple faced some high demand on Black Friday this year but did well with plenty of iPhone 5s and iPad Air units for sale. Sadly the same could not be said for the iPad Mini with Retina display.

A survey of retailers in the US on Black Friday found that demand was robust and Apple had ample supply in its own stores. The survey was conducted by Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank and polled over 100 shops including 50 Apple stores and 50 high street retailers, such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target.

iPad Mini with Retina Display has been in short supply since it first went on sale but the survey found the Wi-Fi only model was sold out at 13% of Apple stores. The cellular model was out of stock at 1 in 5 stores Apple stores.

The survey found the iPhone 5s was available in all Apple stores and the 128GB iPad Air was only unavailable in a few.

Apple is expected to improve supplies of the iPad Mini with Retina display during the first quarter of 2014. 

Apple ramping up iPad Mini 2 orders to 4 million in November

Apple is reportedly ramping up production of its iPad Mini 2 with Retina display, having already sourced components for a staggering four million units in November alone.

The word comes via Digitimes, which reports having heard from Taiwanese supply chain sources.

According the report, Apple has now dealt with supply issues regarding the Retina display panels, a problem which had previously meant the iPad Mini 2 was shipping in smaller quantities than its larger cousin, the iPad Air. This meant the waiting time on the iPad Mini 2 was, for many buyers, longer than expected.

But now such hiccups appear to have been fixed, "Currently, Apple's orders for the iPad mini with Retina have already surpassed those for the first-generation iPad mini," said the source. 

iPad Mini 2 4G LTE hit with shipping delays

Apple is reportedly stuggling to get 4G LTE-enabled iPad Mini 2 tablets to customers as carrier networks in the US have still not recieved shipments of the slate.

 According to CNET's Brooke Crothers, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all have their iPad Mini 2 shipments on back-order.

Verizon originally put forward a date of November 25 but with stocks still not arriving is now looking at December 2 and no word on when outlet stores might recieve the device.

T-Mobile has a back-order for up to six to eight weeks, while AT&T's status says 21-28 days until it can ship.

Apple still seems to be able to get non-cellular models out the door, though not via carriers of course, but aside from the initial batch of 4G-capable iPad Mini 2s available in Apple's retail stores the supply appears to have dried up, temporarily.

Oddly, Apple's webstore still shows 5-10 business days for each carrier.

iPad Mini 2’s Retina Display not as colourful as iPad Air’s, claims report

The iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 both use Apple’s much-loved IPS LCD Retina display panels. Both offer excellent visuals and pinpoint colour accuracy, so for the most part you’re not going to notice any discernible between them with everyday use. Both have the same resolution [2048 x 1536 pixels], for instance, but the Air has a slightly lower pixel density than the mini 2 [264ppi vs. 326ppi] on account of its larger screen. 

Most people won’t spot any difference, however, but that’s most people… AnandTech are NOT most people. And in their new report they’ve dug deep into the display tech aboard both slates and found out some interesting things about Apple’s new line of iPad. Specifically: the iPad Air has better colour representation than its Mini counterpart.

“The iPad mini with Retina Display has the same color gamut as the standard iPad mini," explains AnanTech, "which is narrower than the iPad Air and less than the sRGB coverage we normally look for. The biggest issue here is that there are other smaller tablets in this price range that do offer sRGB coverage (e.g. Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX 8.9).” 

On the subject of why this was the case the reports said, “I suspect the justification here is Apple likely views the bigger iPad as being a better fit for photographers/those who care about color reproduction, but it’s a shame that this is a tradeoff that exists between the two iPads especially given how good Apple is about sRGB coverage in nearly all of its other displays.”

Check out the full report here

iPad Mini 2 reviews round-up

iPad Mini 2

If you thought the iPad Air was the best tablet ever made, think again. Don't just take our word for it; the reviews are in for the iPad Mini 2 with retina display - and they're overwhelmingly positive.

As the Huffington Post's Michael Rundle explains, this tablet might even be better than its bigger brother, the Air. "Earlier this month we said that Apple's new iPad Air was the best tablet they, or anyone, had ever made”, he writes. “After using the new iPad Mini with Retina Display, we think that *might* still be true. It's just that while you might still prefer the Air, that's now purely a matter of personal preference."

Rundle isn't the only one who's impressed. Mashable's Lance Ulanoff is also a big fan of the mini - particularly its potential to entertain. “I can listen to music on iTunes radio without buying a thing, stream movies and TV shows on Netflix instantly (there’s even an Amazon app), play near console-level games such as Air Supremacy, Asphalt 8, Infinity Blade III and Epoch 2, and access iBooks and Newsstand. Compared to the Kindle Fire HDX, the mini's larger screen makes the tablet experience that much more pleasurable."

Tech Crunch, meanwhile, are head-over-heels in love with the tablet. Seriously, book some time in your schedule for summer 2014 because we think there might be an August wedding. According to reviewer Darrel Etherington "Apple has added that screen without introducing trade-offs in terms of battery life, size (substantial ones anyway) and portability, too. This is the iPad mini everyone wanted to begin with, and now it’s here, and it’s the best tablet money can buy." It is, he writes, simply the best tablet on the market.

Gizmag are also big fans of the iPad update (it’s possible they might show up to the church, ready to fight Tech Crunch at the altar this summer). According to Will Shanklin it isn't just the best mini tablet ever made. It's also "quite possibly the best tablet ever made".

He goes on: "If a tablet is a big part of your life, you don't need a huge screen, and you can afford it, then the Retina iPad mini might be the best tablet you can buy today."

Over at TechRadar, Gareth Beavis says the iPad Mini 2 is "almost flawless". But he's not as giddy about the new device as fellow reviewers, saying that the iPad Mini 2 has one big drawback - it's price. "You can buy a Google Nexus 7 for 25-30% less than the comparable 16GB / 32GB option from Apple – and that increase in price to improve the amount of storage on board has no justification".

Trusted Reviews agree, writing that as both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 7 are £199 cheaper than the iPad Mini 2 it makes no financial sense to buy the tablet if you only intend to use it as an "e-reader, casual web browser and video player".

But Gizmodo have disagree. In a borderline-Foucaultian analysis of the current mini tablet market, they argue that while it is tempting to lump in the iPad mini with a Nexus 7 or a Kindle Fire "you shouldn’t, any more than you would lump a small bear in with a small pufferfish. They are different animals, with different arsenals."

Over at Expert Reviews, while they note the tablet is pricey they still believe it’s the best mini device out there, writing: "Given the faster processor and the high-resolution screen, it's certainly looking as though the iPad Mini with Retina is going to be the small tablet to buy and a worthy upgrade to the existing model." And you never know – you might end up using it for more than you think.

iPad Mini 2 versus Nexus 7

With the release - and gushingly favourable reviews - of the iPad Mini 2 there's always one factor to consider; price. Especially before Christmas. So check out our comparison of the new mini tablet and the Nexus 7 (2013).

Direct Spec comparison

Device Nexus 7 2 (2014 Edition) Apple iPad Mini 2
Dimensions 200x114x8.7mm, 290g 200x134.7x7.5mm,331g
Display 7-inch IPS LCD, 1920x1200 pixels,323ppi 7.9-inch IPS LCD Retina, 2048x1536 pixels,324ppi
Camera 5-megapixel,1080p video 5-megapixel iSight
Storage 16GB/32GB 16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB
Processor, RAM, Graphics Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5GHz,2GB RAM,Adreno320 GPU Apple A7 dual-core 64-bit, M7 Motion,1GB RAM
Operating System Android 4.3 Jelly Bean iOS 7
UI N/A N/A
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0,Wi-Fi,GPS,NFC,microUSB,Optional 4G/3G Bluetooth 4.0,Wi-Fi,GPS, Lightning,Optional 4G/3G
Battery 3,950mAh 4,440mAh

In terms of build and design, the iPad Mini 2 has not changed tremendously from the existing iPad Mini model. It is still made from aluminium and uses the same proportions, making it a bit wider than the Nexus 7 2 but otherwise more or less the same size.

The iPad Mini 2 is thinner than the Nexus 7 2's 8.7mm, measuring 7.5mm, but it is slightly heavier. The Nexus 7 2 differs from the iPad's build by using Google's favourite soft-touch polycarbonate material. 

Apple has incorporated the rumoured 2048x1536 pixel Retina display which puts the iPad Mini 2 on a par with the Nexus 7 2 in terms of display clarity – both have pixel densities in the region of 323-326 pixels-per-inch (ppi) and both use IPS LCD technology.

The iPad Mini 2 ships in four storage flavours: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. There's no SD-support, however, but that was always going to be the case. With the Nexus 7 you 16GB and 32GB to choose between and, no, Google didn't include SD-support this time around either. 

The iPad Mini 2 has the same sized battery pack as the older model, though optimisation tweaks will improve overall battery life - it's a 4,440mAh unit and it is bigger than the Nexus 7 2's 3,950mAh cell, though not by much.

Both devices have 5-megapixel camera setups, which are fairly standard for tablet devices.

In terms of processing power, this is the main reason there's quite a divide between the two slates when it comes to price. Apple has included its new A7 dual-core 64-bit processor in the iPad Mini 2 which should be noticeably quicker than the Nexus 7 2's now-aging Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core chip

The iPad Mini 2 costs the same as its predecessor – £319. The Nexus 7 is a lot cheaper with prices starting from £199.

Apple iPad Mini 2 clocks up five-fold performance boost in benchmark tests

Apple's iPad Mini 2 has been put through Geekbench 3 and the results show that the upgraded A7 processor offers five times faster performance than the original iPad Mini.

The tests show that the A7 chip is clocked at 1.3GHz, so is a similar setup to the iPhone 5S, 100MHz slower than the iPad Air.

 Geekbench tests both single core and multi-core performance. In single core tests, the iPad Mini 2 scored 1390 compared to the iPhone 5S's 1399, the iPad Air's 1466 and the original iPad Mini's 261. In multi-core, the iPad Mini 2 scored 2512 against the iPhone 5S's 2523, the iPad Ai's 2856 and the original iPad Mini's 493.

Apple iPad Mini 2 now available in Apple's online store

After much anticipation, Apple's iPad Mini 2 has finally arrived. The iPad Mini 2, also known as the iPad Mini with Retina display (that's 324ppi), is now officially available in Apple's online store across the globe.

According to GSMArena, the 16GB and 32GB Wi-Fi only models will ship in between 1-3 business days, while the 3G/4G-enabled variants and 64GB and 128GB storage models will take 5-10 business days.

The pricing structure remains as we detailed previously (see below).

"The response to iPad Air has been incredible, and we’re excited for customers to experience the new iPad mini with Retina display," said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

"We think customers will love both of these thin, light, powerful new iPads, and we’re working hard to get as many as we can in the hands of our customers."

Release Date, Availability & Pricing

Price

The iPad Mini with Retina Display will be available Space Grey and Silver with prices starting from £319 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. Apple has also added in a 128GB version – although that model will set you back £559. 

Apple also confirmed that it would be keeping the original iPad Mini in circulation and that it is now available from £249 for the 16GB model. 

iPad Mini 2 [Wi-Fi-only]

• 16GB – £319
• 32GB – £399
• 64GB – £479
• 128GB – £599

iPad Mini 2 with Wi-Fi and Mobile Data
• 16GB – £419
• 32GB – £499
• 64GB – £579
• 128GB – £659

Networks?

Three, Vodafone and EE have all confirmed that they will be carrying the iPad Mini 2. EE has said that it will offer both tablets on its 4G LTE network, as well as on its 3G-only networks Orange and T-Mobile.

Colours

The iPad Mini 2 is available in the following colour schemes: silver and space grey.

What is different about the new iPad mini?

• Apple’s 64-bit A7 chipset and accompanying M7 coprocessor.
• A Retina Display – it’s now a 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 pixels setup.
• New colour schemes: Silver and Space Grey.
• Wider LTE support.
• Improved connectivity.

So... how does the iPad Mini 2 shape up?

iPad Mini with Retina Display

The one update everyone was hoping for – a 2048x1536 resolution Retina Display – made the cut, and the inclusion of Apple’s 64-bit A7 chipset is also pretty significant, too. It also has the new HD FaceTime camera and a brand new 5-megapixel iSight camera on the rear. 1080p HD video recording is also supported.

MIMO

Both new iPads feature two antennas to support Multiple-In-Multiple-Out (MIMO) technology, bringing twice the Wi-Fi performance to iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display at a blazingly fast data rate up to 300 Mbps.

More LTE support

Apple has packed 14 LTE bands into the new iPad Mini 2 – that’s one up on than the iPhone 5C and 5S, which "only" run 13 bands.

As Gigaom note, that means they’ll work across all major North American and European carriers – plus they’ll link to networks in Asia and the Middle East. T Mobile is the biggest winner out of all the carriers – their 4G network is now supported.

Apple themselves are being cautious warning about the bands, saying "iPad models are unlocked and may support LTE networks outside the country of purchase when using a valid SIM from a supported carrier”.

But as Phones Arena say, in practice, this probably means you can pop a local SIM card into your device when abroad and enjoy.

The A7 Chipset

"The A7 chip in iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display offers 64-bit desktop-class architecture, advanced graphics and improved image signal processing from previous generations," said Apple in a statement to the media. 

It added: "With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance on iPad Air, and up to four times the CPU and eight times the graphics performance on iPad mini with Retina display, almost everything you do is faster and better than ever."

Reports are now suggesting Apple's iPad Mini 2 and iPad Air are equipped with 1GB of RAM, rather than having been upgraded to the now-common 2GB found in Android rivals.

Apple iPad Mini 2 1GB of RAM confirmed by support chat

According to CtechCN, a video chat with Apple customer service reps has allegedly confirmed the 1GB RAM figure.

That's about as close as we're likely to get to official confirmation from Apple, which rarely comments on these kind of specifics.

As with previous Apple launches, we will likely have to wait until tech sites such as AnandTech and Ars Technica, who have no qualms about tearing devices open and rummaging around inside, publish their findings on the iPad Mini 2 and iPad Air.

What’s the difference between 32-bit & 64-bit chips?

Put simply: 64-bit chipsets handle memory addresses described with 64-bit numbers instead of 32-bit ones, which means –– as CNET notes –– “that a computer can accommodate more than 4GB of memory and that chips can do math with integers that are a lot bigger. The 64-bit transition, however, does not have any effect on a lot of computing performance at all.”

Servers and PCs employ 64-bit chipsets and higher levels of RAM, but mobile devices –– aside from the Note 3, which uses 3GB of RAM –– have yet to start using PC-level amounts of memory. And the reason is three-fold: space, power and cost. 

(1) RAM is expensive, (2) it takes up room and (3) it sucks up power. The Note 3, which was the first smartphone to use 3GB, is a large handset [solving issue two] and it has a pretty large battery cell [solving issue three]. The Note 3 also costs a fortune, which ties up issue one. But the Note 3 does not use a 64-bit chip.

“Sure, it only took a couple hours for Apple to announce the iPhone 5S and the A7 processor. But the full 64-bit transition will take years in mobile, just as it did in the PC market,” added CNET.

So while Apple’s A7 chipset is great – and plenty fast, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all but it is indicative of the future: all mobile devices will eventually use 64-bit chipsets.

ARM confirmed its 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set in 2011 and now, two years later, it is being put to work inside Apple’s iPad Mini 2, iPad Air and iPhone 5S. Next to release 64-bit chipsets will be Samsung (Exynos 6) and Qualcomm, with the next iteration of its market-dominating Snapdragon chipset. 

iPad Mini 2: Availability - Apple faces supply shortages in 2013

Apple is reportedly facing a supply crisis with the iPad Mini 2 as figures suggest the company may only be able to meet shipments under the 4 million unit mark.

According to the Daily Mail, analysts from IHS have examined iPad Mini 2 supply data and expect shipments to drop below 4 million units, possibly below 3 million before the tablet hits the market in November.

The report claims Apple shipped 8.9 million first-gen iPad Minis earlier in 2013, a showcase of the potential demand for the successor models, and suggests that almost two thirds of Apple’s potential iPad Mini 2 consumer base will not be able to acquire the device due to the shortages. That’s assuming demand remains the same, however, the IHS report suggests demand for the Retina-equipped iPad Mini 2 could see demand higher than 9 million.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the issue, as it often is, is a shortage of the 7.9-inch Retina display panels, one of the main selling points of the new device over its predecessor, along with the updated A7 processor chip.

Fortunately for potential buyers, these shortages are expected to turn around in early 2014. Apparently “most of the production” is happening “late in the quarter (Q4)” and analysts expect supply will “improve substantially” at the beginning of next year. 

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