iPad mini 4: Early impressions

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Gizmag takes an early look at the right iPad mini (at the wrong time?), the iPad mini 4(Credit: Will Shanklin/Gizmag)

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Last week the iPad mini 4 barely got a mention in Apple's big launch event, with the spotlight shining much brighter on the iPad Pro. But if gigantic smartphones haven't yet killed all your interest in mini-tablets, this one looks like it could be worth paying attention to.

The iPad mini 4 is the version we were dreaming of three years ago, when the original iPad mini first released. That first model had an incredibly light and thin build, but a last-gen chip (even for its time) and mediocre screen resolution.

Those two things got remedied in the next model, but it also lost a bit of the original's ultra-light and thin build. And last year's iPad mini 3, though a fine tablet, was a non-starter: it was just the previous model with a fingerprint sensor.

... but the fourth time looks like a charm.

The iPad mini 4 has a sharp Retina Display and late 2014-era Apple A8 chip: a quick run of Geekbench 3 (above) confirms it's a dual core CPU running at 1.5 GHz along with 2 GB of RAM.

But the new mini is also 15 percent thinner and 3 percent lighter than that oh-so pleasant to hold first iPad mini. Uncompromised display, performance and form are finally living together in one model.

Too bad it's arriving right as interest in the iPad mini, including from Apple, appears to be at an all-time low. A few seconds of stage time speaks volumes about where Apple sees the iPad mini standing next to the new Pro. The mini is either about to go the way of the dodo, or it's going to hang around on the sidelines as a low-priority device, like iPods have done for the last six or seven years.

We'll still need to spend more time with it, to report on battery life and longer-term use, but if you're still on the hunt for an iPad mini, this looks like it's easily the best one. US$400 and up is still pricier than much of its competition – and if you already own an iPhone 6 Plus or other phablet, then the screen size difference might not be quite big enough to justify the purchase. But still worth a look, if for no other reason than to see your late 2012 dreams finally come true.

Product page: Apple

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