The Cheapest iPad mini

From $256.88 + $4.99 shipping


  • Great screen
  • Speedy performer
  • Excellent battery life


  • More expensive than a Nexus
  • Extra storage is very pricey

In this review

  • Retina display
  • iPad mini 1 and the 64-bit chip
  • Conclusion



This year's iPad mini is what last year's should have been. It's brilliant, which means I can sum up your buying options simply: if you're planning to use a tablet mostly to watch video, browse the Web and read books while on the go, this is the model you should buy. If you're mostly going to be using it at home, or want to try a tablet as a proper laptop replacement, buy an iPad Air for the larger screen. If it's for a child, spend less and get a Nexcus 7 or Tesco Hudl in case they vomit all over it.


Retina display

What makes the iPad mini with retina display so much better than the 2012 version is the screen. It has the same resolution as its bigger brother, the iPad Air, and boy does that make a difference. It's called a 'retina display' by Apple because, at a 'typical' viewing distance, your eye isn't supposed to be able to make out the individual pixels, like you can on the screen on last year's model.

This year's iPad mini is brilliant.

It certainly looks great. Text is much sharper for one thing, and the edges of icons are properly rounded rather than ever so slightly jagged. When I moved from a normal screen to a retina model on my phone a while back, I found that the initial impact wasn't huge, but that it was almost impossible to go back. It's a similar effect with this tablet -- if you own last year's mini and don't want to shell out for the new one, my advice is to try very hard not to catch a glimpse of the retina model.

Text is much sharper on the new iPad mini.

Although the screen has the same resolution as the iPad Air's, the quality of the image isn't quite as good. If you put the new mini next to the new Air, colours aren't as punchy on the mini. It's not something I would expect most people to notice, unless you make a direct comparison with the same image, but it's worth knowing if you're pondering which iPad to choose.

To cope with the extra power demands of the higher-resolution screen, Apple has put a larger battery inside the mini, which has made it under 30g heavier than the old model. That's something you definitely notice, although for me, the better screen is worth the trade-off.


iPad mini 1 and the 64-bit chip

The original mini is still on sale, but I wouldn't advise buying it. Not only is it expensive for last year's tech, it's starting to wheeze slightly, coping with the demands of the current operating system, iOS 7. If it's slowing down now, what will it be like in a couple of years?

The 64-bit chip inside the new mini certainly makes a big difference, even in everyday tasks like browsing and switching between apps, although it's actually slightly slower than the one in the iPad Air. So if the added weight of the iPad mini with retina is too much for you, I'd advise checking out a Google Nexus 7, which is about 40g lighter.


The screen is 7.9 inches but it's heavier than last year's model.

Otherwise the iPad mini with retina has a 7.9-inch screen and is essentially a smaller version of the iPad Air with its 9.7-inch display, which I reviewed here. If you read that piece most of what I say can be applied to this product.

The gist is that Apple has all the important things right: there are loads of apps to install, it's easy to use, there are 4G versions if you want them, the camera is OK if not amazing and there is plenty of video and music to buy to watch on the tablet. The battery lasts forever -- 14 hours in CNET's tests. I think its smaller size makes the mini more appropriate as a device for watching stuff, rather than doing things like writing documents and editing spreadsheets, but that's a personal preference.

It's small and portable and worth adding to your list for Santa.

If you're happy faffing around with a computer and iTunes, go for the smallest 16GB capacity model, but be warned, you'll end up moving video files and apps around quite quickly. A game that takes advantage of the high-resolution screen like Infinity Blade 3 is a massive 1.5GB, so you can see how you could quickly run out of space. Every time you increase capacity, it'll set you back around £80, which is loads for what you get.



If you've yet to buy a tablet and have the spare cash, the iPad mini with retina is a fantastic entry into the whole sector. For me, it's a toss-up between this and an iPad Air. I prefer the portability and lower price of the mini, but both are excellent products. Add to your list for Santa now.

 Thankyou to

TechRadar's verdict

"Want the best tablet on the market? Then get the iPad Air. It's got a stunning design, powerful innards and a superb suite of apps. It's as near to tablet perfection as you're going to get."
  • Sleek design
  • Powerful innards
  • Great suite of free apps
  • No TouchID
  • Camera features lacking
  • 16GB version is too small
PAGE 1 OF 11Introduction and design

Apple's new iPad shows all you need to know about its changed approach to tablets - with a 43% thinner bezel and a 28% lighter device, the iPad Air is championing the 'easier to live with' ideal.

If you haven't seen a picture yet, then imagine an iPad mini that you've just held a little closer to your face, and you're largely there with the Air.

It's got the same smooth back design, thinner bezel and more attractive speakers at the bottom of the phone to make it look like more of a family with the cut down tablet from Apple's stables.

While it's a clear copy, we're not going to get upset about that as the mini already had a stunning design, and the Air takes that message and brings it to the big leagues.

It also has machined buttons that don't feel loose when shaking, bringing up the premium feel to the device.

Ratings in depth iPad Air reviewiPad Air reviewiPad Air reviewiPad Air reviewiPad Air review

On top of the new design, it's also rocking Apple's A7 chip, bringing with it 64-bit processing power and reams of battery saving techniques to keep your tablet going even longer in day to day use.

And the greatest thing about the iPad range in our eyes is the price - Apple is starting the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model at the same cost as its rivals, and while that outlay does spiral up as capacity and connectivity increase, for an Apple device to not charge an (unnecessary) premium is something we're really happy to see.

We're looking at a price range of £399 - £739 ($499 - $929 or AU$598 - AU1049), starting from the 16GB version (Wi-Fi only) to the 64GB cellular option.


iPad Air review


Add to that the fact Apple is lobbing in a lot of useful free software, as well as bringing a more refined experience with iOS 7, and you can see that it's put a lot of effort into making the iPad Air the tablet that shows it's not losing its relevancy in the market.

The keynote for the launch of the iPad Air talked a lot about Apple's dominance in terms of tablet usage, but it's no secret that a number of users are starting to warm to the idea of an Android model as their main device - the Sony Xperia Tablet Z is one of the best around at the moment, and offers expandable storage as well as a waterproof casing to trump Apple in that respect.


iPad Air review]


But Apple has countered by bringing out the same 128GB model as before, which, while pricey, gives more than ample storage for anything you want to do on the go, be it storing all the HD apps you want as well as your entire music collection and most movies too.

It's worth noting that the 16GB option is nigh-on useless as a purchase if you're thinking of pulling in all the free apps Apple is slinging your way - this was an issue when the Retina display landed on the iPad 3, and has only got worse as more HD apps from developers have been slipped onto the App Store.


iPad Air review


However, it's still good to see options being offered when it comes to storage, as some Android devices (albeit mostly phones) are starting to eschew expandability and not really upping the internal space.

So you can see that Apple has covered its bases in nearly every area when it comes to the iPad Air - but how does it actually perform in the hand when subjected to rigorous daily use?

The iPad Air is an odd device when you pick it up for the first time. When you hear all the numbers being bandied about you'd rightly assume that you'd feel something that was almost ghost-like in the hand, a tablet that could almost get blown away.

And we're utterly not disputing that - the iPad Air is the most balanced tablet on the market, with great precision going into the engineering throughout. However, if you've touched an iPad mini or just haven't held an older iPad for a while (and with some people we tested with, even those that had) you won't feel as much of a step up as you'd be expecting.

We've added that caveat to brace you should you be excited to purchase the new iPad, as it's not something that affects the general usage in any way, with one-handed holding very easy, and something that puts the Air into a new product category.


iPad Air review


The design of the iPad Air is, as we've mentioned, very impressive. Yes, it's totally based on the iPad mini, and the smooth aluminium back is really great to feel in the hand. It's a shame that most people feel the need to slap a cover on an iPad as soon as it's bought - while we get the notion of protection, it hides away some cracking design.

That said, at least it keeps the fingers away from the chassis, and the iPad Air is a real magnet for prints. The back cover isn't too bad, but the mirrored Apple logo sucks down finger oil and is loathe to give it back even with hard scrubbing with a cloth.


iPad Air review


It might not sound like a big deal, but it makes your premium new tablet look a bit unkempt right from the start.

But in actual operation, the design of the iPad Air complements the impressive innards superbly. It's unsurprisingly not possible to hold your hand the entire way around the edge of the Air, but then again it's so light (and comes with the ability to disregard erroneous thumbs entering the screen, again like the iPad mini) that it doesn't really make a big difference.


iPad Air review


The rest of the buttonry - the top-mounted power key and the silencing rocker switch and volume buttons at the side - haven't moved far, but protrude nicely to make them very easy to hit no matter when you're holding the device - being able to find such things without looking is often sacrificed in the quest to make tablets look sleeker, so we're happy Apple has gone the other way here.

There is one note of criticism in terms of design for such a decent (and still expensive, despite costing the same as many of its peers) piece of kit: the screen has a plastic thud to it when tapping, thanks to the smaller and lighter innards.

It's most noticeable when grazed with a fingernail, although in a case the effect is lessened. We're surprised Apple let this feature go unchallenged, but it seems in making the design thinner and removing part of the inner cage the overall strength of the chassis is somewhat reduced.

It's not a major issue by any means, and certainly one that you'll only pick up on sporadically, but it's still enough to irk at times when you're expecting a truly premium experience.

Many of you will also be wondering why there's no TouchID onboard the iPad AIr when it's such a large selling point for the iPhone 5S.


iPad Air review


We're in the same boat. The architecture is there. It surely can't be an issue of space seeing as the technology fitted into the iPhone 5S.

So what could it be? Apple surely isn't holding it back as the 'big upgrade' for the iPad Air 2, is it? That would be such an anti-climax... plus we're waiting for the bendable iPad in 2014 anyway.

Thankyou for for your review

The iPad 2

The cheapest iPad 2 has been a tried and tested tablet for quite a few years now. I still have my iPad 2 and is still the same speed as it was new. I have the 16 GB, maybe lacking a little memory now, once you have pictures, apps, movies and music on it, it does leave alot of space. So, may be upgrade to the iPad air which has bigger memory or don't fill it up with loads of movies and piccys!

We are constantly updating/trawling the internet for the best and cheapest iPads around the internet. Have a look below, click on the images to go to your desired iPad.

The newest iPad Air


The Ever Popular iPad 2


The Newest iPad Mini with Retina Display


The iPad Mini

*important note to make to oneself, these prices could change and spec might change due to the seller. Please check the spec, colour, memory etc, before ordering.



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