After much rumor and anticipation, Apple unveiled their iPad mini today – a significantly smaller version of the iPad that Apple claims can easily be used one-handed. A number of reporters were able to get their hands on demo units at the event – here’s what some of them had to say!
The iPad mini can easily be held with one hand for reading. Menus and other onscreen items can be reached with that hand if they are close. Of course, you can’t expect to be able to navigate the mini’s screen with one hand, but you can touch and scroll.
With two hands you can actually lay the mini in the palm of one hand while navigating with the other. The app icons are a decent size so there is no worry of accidentally hitting the wrong app.
The mini isn’t a fit-in-your-pocket device, but it’s a tablet not a smartphone. It will comfortably fit in a bag and is light enough that you won’t even know you’re carrying it.
The finish of the device is matte on the back, making for a very nice feeling in the hand. The weight is really the most impressive part, though – as with the iPhone 5, but to an even greater degree, the iPad mini feels almost weightless when compared to its predecessors. It’s so thin and light as to feel almost like a prop, rather than a functional device.
The design is slick and cohesive, with the unibody aluminum back plate curving sinuously around and meeting the glass fascia: everything about the aesthetic emphasizes the relative simplicity of those two halves, though there’s obviously plenty of engineering gone into making them work together. At first glance, the narrow side bezels look somewhat odd, but they make far more sense when you actually pick the iPad mini up.
You can grip it comfortably in one hand, fingers wrapping around the edges just as we’ve praised Amazon’s Kindles and other small ereader tablets for in the past. That, together with the relatively light weight compared to the full-sized iPad, means holding the iPad mini one-handed for extended periods should be comfortable.
The display on the mini looks incredibly sharp, and even though the resolution is lower than the 3rd and 4th generation full-size iPad, it doesn’t immediately seem like a 1024 x 768 display. The smaller, 7.9-inch surface area certainly helps squeeze the pixels.
It’s still not “small,” though. While a fully outstretched adult hand can generally grasp it without help from the other, you’ll still want both for typing and using apps. It’s still too big for your average pocket, and it’s not going to save you a heck of a lot of room in your knapsack compared to the 9.7-incher.
If you think the iPad mini is just a small iPad, well, you’d be right. But it really needs to be seen to be understood. It’s tiny, light, and has great fit and finish. Its screen is good, but most definitely not of Retina quality. When you see one, and hold one, you’ll know if you want one. We’d direct you to your nearest Apple Store to check one out for yourself…but until November 2, you won’t be able to.
Overall impressions seem very positive. For more details, including pictures (and in some cases, video) from the hands-on sessions, check out the source links above!
You can check out all of our editorial coverage surrounding Apple’s keynote by visiting our ‘iPad Mini Event‘ tag!
Update 10/24/12 – added Macworld’s impression, which is perhaps one of the most useful.