The first-generation iPad mini was near-perfect in terms of a small tablet, with the one big shortcoming being that it lacked Apple’s impressive Retina high-resolution display. It was hard to go back to a standard-res screen after the iPad 3 and iPhone 4, which is why it’s great that the new version offers a Retina screen.
The eye-boggling 2048 x 1536 screen looks excellent in person, and for anyone coming from a generation one device it’s going to be a dramatic change. The iPad mini itself is very slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor to accommodate the Retina Display with the same battery life, adding 0.01 inches and 0.05 pounds to the specs of the original, but that makes minimal difference to the actual feel of the product in the hand.
Also new to the iPad mini is a new space gray color scheme, which is lighter than the dark black of the original version. As with the iPhone, it’s an attractive color option, and I suspect also less susceptible to scratches. It’s actually quite close when compared side-by-side to the silver version, but it’s still got the solid black front bezel.
The new case options feel about the same as the existing versions, though they come in new color variants. I’m always a fan of the smart cover, and this time around is no exception. Everything else aside, though, the big attraction here is the Retina display.
Apple may have beefed up the iPad mini’s processor power with the A7 chip and added a 128 GB storage option, plus much better global LTE coverage, but the Retina is what’s really going to make it worth the extra $70 over the original cost of the gen-one iPad mini. And considering that you do get an iPad essentially as powerful as its larger sibling in such a small, one-hand holdable package, it really is worth the minor price hike, based on my initial impressions.