Hands On: iPad Mini 2 with the Retina Display

So what’s all the perks behind having an iPad Mini with a retina display on your hand? First, just don’t let it fall cause you don’t want to dent one of those corners.

Built and Handling

The iPad Mini 2 has the glass panel on front, with the usual placement of the home button below the display and the 1.2MP front-facing camera above it. The wake / sleep button and the 3.5mm audio jack will still be found at top of the Mini, and the volume rocker on the right side just below the side switch.

iPad Mini 2 Front and Back

iPad Mini 2 Right Side

The twin mics are found at the top and above the back of the slate. It’s the only obvious indication that you got the second gen iPad Mini, aside from the thicker profile it gained compared to the original. The 5MP camera’s found at the back and the dual speakers found below with the lightning connector at the middle.

iPad Mini 2 Top View

iPad Mini 2 Bottom View

The smooth metallic feel of the aluminum unibody has a certain high letting you know it’s something valuable. Though, the glass is much of a smudge magnet and you either wipe it with a clothe or end up wiping it across your shirt instead. The glass pretty much cover all the iPad Mini’s face, and you can slide your fingers from end to end of the tab. It’s especially useful when you execute gestures more often than pushing the home button.

User Interface and Gestures

The user interface belongs to OS 7 already, so you’ll be looking at the minimalist, pastel-colored design, with the added depth of view as the icons’ background sway like a shadow when you tilt the pad a bit backward to either left or to its right. A quick way to search the content of your iPad Mini is to access the Spotlight. Wipe your finger from the top portion of the display downward then you’ll have it revealed.

iPad Mini 2 Split Virtual Keyboard

You can notice that the keyboard is divided into half when the Spotlight showed up at the upper portion of the display. You can just touch and hold the key board icon at the bottom left of the keypad, and select the Split mode. To bring it back whole then touch and hold it again, then choose merge. You’ll find it useful when you thumb-type with both your hands holding the tab.

iPad Mini 2 Control Center

Wipe your fingers from top edge going down the display, and you’ll be looking at the notifications and calendar. Wipe from the bottom edge upwards, then you’ll have the Control Center, where you can quickly turn on connectivity options like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, even adjust the brightness, volume, and set your music to play. You can turn the Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb, or the Display Orientation locked. There’s also the four icons for quick reach for your flashlight, clock, calculator, and for the camera.

If you happen to be someone who does not exactly want to use the home button to navigate your iPad or to quit the apps, then you can actually use gestures altogether instead. It’s just that some people can be too pushy on the home button and end up wearing it out and head right to the repair shop just too soon. So, making use of your four or five fingers can easily allow you to multitask, or just go back right to the home screen.

Just spread your four or five fingers and you’ll have the app switcher with all the apps you’ve opened placed side-by-side. Swipe to the left or to right to navigate, swipe up on one window to close the app, or touch one to switch right on that app. To quit an app, or if you want to go at the home screen, then pinch the screen with your four or five fingers instead.

Installed and Must Download Apps

The set of native apps and icons on the iPad Mini comes with the basic necessities of why you’ll get an iPad Mini in the first place. On accessing the web, navigation and other online activity, you get the Safari browser, Maps, and Mail. On taking notes, and consuming multimedia, you can use Calendar, Notes, NewsStand, Videos, Photos, Music, Camera, and Photo Booth. Connecting to your friends and love ones makes use of Messages, Mail, Contacts, or FaceTime.

iPad Mini 2 Home Screen

However, much of other content, subscriptions, and apps might be more helpful than just having the basics. The iTunes Store gets you the music you want, the NewsStand for magazine subscriptions, and the App Store for games, and a lot of premium made software for almost anything you can think to fit your needs and wants. Plus the Game Center that lets you display your prowess and compete with other players on iDevices.

One great news to take advantage of is that Apple’s iWorks office apps, which includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote already comes free for all iDevices that are newly purchased. But, when you buy one you won’t be able to find it anywhere on your iPad Mini. That’s because you still have to download it from the App Store.

iPad Mini 2 Downloaded Apps

Just in case that you’ll see that those iWorks apps has a price tag on it, and haven’t been displayed as FREE, then you have to go find the Productivity Category and then the Free Apps section. Well, that part is kinda tricky cause others have to re-login, or phone reset, and even wait for a day to see that badge is already displaying FREE. Next a-must download should be the iLife Apps, which includes the Garage Band, iPhoto, and the iMovie. Now, these set of apps are just unmatched. If making music and videos makes your world move go way rounder, then don’t miss these apps.

iPad Mini 2 Safari Browser

With the browser, Safari is very much capable, with a few things you want to familiarize yourself with. Safari’s reader function takes the clutter away from what you read, and you can find it as the four-lined icon at left innermost side of the address bar found at the browser’s topmost portion. The outbox icon found at the left of the address bar reveals the option for AirDrop, or for quick sharing via Email, Twitter or Facebook. It also contains the option to Bookmark, Add to Reading List, Add to Home Screen, Copy, and Print. On the right side of the address bar you have the Bookmarks icon where you’ll find your Favorites, History, and your bookmarked web pages. While the Glasses icon would contain your Reading list.

Post Impressions

The iPad Mini 2 with the retina display is quite handy, with the feel of having a tab of more value because of the aluminum build. The home screen mainly adopted a minimalist design, with colors not much striking, though sleek in a way the depth of view is played on the interface.

The iOS 7 UI brings a revamp on shortcuts, making the Control Center literally a useful addition. The gestures can also play a major role on accessing the Spotlight, the app switcher, and even quit apps in exchange of the home button. The option to split the virtual keyboard makes it easier to type faster on both thumbs as well.

The pre-loaded apps on the Mini are the same apps you’ll get on all iDevices. The other apps are definitely worth the download, with the iWorks and iLife apps readily available now for free on the new purchases.

We haven’t noted much about the other apps, and games, and other tools you may need, but we’ll try to have a follow up. The hands on with the iPad Mini 2 with the retina display is definitely a pleasure to start with.

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