When people started buying cheaper seven-inch tablets from Amazon, Google and Samsung, Apple noticed they were losing out on potential tablet territory to these cheap offerings and decided to build the iPad Mini – a smaller and cheaper version of the iPad.

The iPad Mini gained so much popularity it started chunking into the iPad sales, more Apple fans wanted the smaller and cheaper experience and left the more expensive iPad in the cold. We take a look to see if it is still a viable competitor.

The design of the iPad Mini knocks back to the older line of iPad’s but comes with much thinner bezels and a thinner all round design. Instead of plain white, the back color is silver aluminium that looks like a matte finish, even though there is no rubber texture.

Thinner bezels really change the size of this device, where the 7.9-inch display would feel a little too large to be comfortable in one hand, the iPad Mini really makes a case for it. Evidently Apple wanted to make a larger display but match it with the size and feel of some of the seven-inch tablets on offer.

Display is one of the off-points for the iPad Mini, it carries the same display resolution as the iPad 2, pretty weak sauce in comparison to the retina display on the iPad Air and iPhone 5S. Apple has never made bad display but it just makes videos and photos look less satisfying on the screen.

Apple once again decided to put limited specs into the iPad Mini, to ensure the drop in price would still make them a good profit. The dual-core A5 chipset is two steps down from the A7 processor on the iPad Air and iPhone 5S and the same processor as the iPad 2.

This basically means the iPad Mini doesn’t run as fast the newest iPad Air or the iPad Mini with retina display and cannot handle some intensive games that take advantage of the 64bit architecture on the A7 chipset.

This is especially apparent on iOS7, the latest version of Apple mobile software. Since iOS7 needs more to run and even more to utilise multitasking, the iPad Mini can fail to load quickly sometimes.

There is another problem iOS7 and the older hardware brings to the tablet – battery life. The iPad Mini can probably last a day without a lot of use, but most iPad Mini users want to watch video, play music and use applications only available for iPads, all chug away at the battery life.

iOS6 or iOS7 will come on the iPad Mini depending on where you buy the device. Apple now ships all its iPad Mini’s with the new version of their operating system, but some sellers on eBay and other sites may not have upgraded, meaning you get the choice of iOS6.

The downsides of having iOS6 include not being applicable for any new updates to the OS or applications that only support iOS7 and missing out on new apps and features. For users that don’t like the design, Apple really offers no way to keep the old and still get updated.

iOS7 does have a lot to offer, including multitasking, the new Control Center, a full UI redesign for every first party application and icon and auto-updates to applications.

The iPad Mini is still definitely a viable choice but there are some things to consider before plunging in on the cheaper and older smaller tablet from Apple. We would say check out the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX before putting your money on the iPad Mini and if you are a nut for a good display and battery life, we would suggest waiting for the iPad Mini with retina display.

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