The Original iPad Mini was an unintended revolutionary device back in 2012 when it was released. Apple had just simply shrunk a regular iPad 10 inch iPad down to 8 inches. This was in no way a game changer. But this new compact size opened a new world of possibilities for the iPad. But, is using an iPad Mini in 2018 still the same experience as it was almost 6 years ago?
I still have my original iPad Mini in 2018. It still works just fine. Even after it has seen some considerable wear and tear and usage over the last 5 years or so. But it is currently locked at iOS 9.3.5. Most apps from the app store will Not be compatible with the Original iPad Mini in 2018. This is the unfortunate fate of any piece of obsolete hardware.
The Original iPad Mini – Birth of a Legend in 2012
Back in 2012, the iPad and its apps were getting much more powerful. The debate of ‘Laptop or iPad’ was getting even more intense. The apps that were being released at that time were so revolutionary that it made getting an iPad a must. Especially if you are a creative artist or musician.
Another solid debate at the time was Android vs iOS tablets. The current state of tablets today is suited directly towards an iPad which is the overall winner. Android has fallen off the wagon, and Microsoft 2-in-1 tablet laptops are trying to be relevant. But back in the day, Android tablets were breaking solid ground and were seriously threatening the iPad.
But as mentioned earlier, the iPad broke past as the tablet to have with its impressive iPad 3 specs and apps. The iPad 2 was still popular and on sale, while the iPad 4 was on the horizon. One of the other reasons why Android tablets were doing so well was because they had 7 and 8-inch variants available. The Google Nexus 7 inch Android tablet was incredible.
In a direct attempt to enter this part of the market, Apple announced the iPad Mini late in 2012. Apple dubbed this device as an affordable and smaller alternative to their current iPad 3. It had the same internals and screen as an iPad 2. But the iPad Mini had an updated design which featured a shape and style that would be the inspiration for modern-day iPads. No more silverback, but a matt black finish. And it was also among the first Apple devices to have a lightning port.
IPad Mini Specs and Quick Review
- Apple A5 chip
- 1 GHz Dual Core Processor
- 512MB RAM
- 7.9 inches display
- 1080p HD video camera
- 5MP camera
- Original OS – iOS 6 updated to iOS 9.3.5
The iPad mini had the same internals and screen as the iPad 2. The iPad 2 did Not have a Retina Display. You could notice the pixels on text and icons at times. It wasn’t that bad, especially back in the days of iOS 6. You could get used to it. But there was a noticeable difference when compared to a newer iPads Retina Display. But this outdated screen pixel issue wasn’t as bad on the smaller screen of the iPad Mini. Even today, the brightness and overall display of the iPad mini does hold up, but barely.
The smaller form factor is the big winner here. My iPad Mini can fit in my shorts pocket. It can also fit in most handbags easily. You can also hold it up with one hand (with your palm at the back). Typing is also much better as you can type with your thumbs the way you do on a mobile phone. With a larger iPad, you mostly have to place the iPad on your lap and start typing away with your fingers on the home row.
At the time, all apps worked. Even complicated Apps such as Traktor DJ and Paper by Fiftythree worked perfectly. Audio quality, latency and overall reliability were at the high Apple standard that we have come to know. I would go on to enjoy my iPad for the next 3 years or so. Using it to play intense games, DJ, drawing, colouring, listening to music, and watching movies. My son has taken over now and it still performs good and the battery still holds up.
Using an iPad Mini in 2018
The overall experience of the iPad Mini has changed drastically now in 2018. Being stuck at iOS version 9.3.5 means that most new apps won’t work. This is due to the fact that newer apps and games just need more processing power to run. I recently spent some time with my kid on the app store trying to download some new games and apps for him. But I would say that out of the 10 apps that we had picked, only 3 older games would work.
What I always admired about this iPad Mini and Apple products, in general, is that when a game runs on a device, it will continue to run well. Badlands and Monument Valley run perfectly on the iPad. Even GTA San Andreas runs like a bomb on the original iPad Mini. This is unheard of on older Android tablets. Even the powerful Nexus tablet of yesteryear will struggle with Badlands.
As mentioned earlier, the screen is still good and is even relevant in today’s time. Watching videos on youtube is a decent experience. But HD quality video doesn’t look as good as it would on a Retina Display. The Camera does take average quality pics and HD video. These are nothing to worry about because you probably won’t use this device for its camera.
Should You Get an iPad Mini in 2018?
You can pick up these devices at an insanely low price now. Apple has done a magnificent job at keeping the original iPad Mini as relevant as possible. Just like how they have tried to with other devices such as the iPod touch. The iPad Mini has an excellent battery that still works well today. I still get a decent amount of usage while playing games and watching videos. An average of around 5 to 6 hours I say.
I would recommend that you get one mostly to use for streaming Music and Video. And maybe the odd occasional game. But time is running out on this beloved device. Music streaming giants such as Spotify and Soundcloud will run on a minimum requirement of iOS 9. This means that these apps may no longer be compatible with the iPad Mini in the near future.
So if you do plan on acquiring an Original Mini soon, be cautious because there may not be much that you can do with it. I suggest the iPad Mini 2, which is currently running iOS 11 and has a much better processor.