Going Mini

Why I'm switching from the iPad 3 to the iPad Mini

iPad Mini

I've at one point owned each version of the iPad, up until the "iPad" 3rd generation. After upgrading to the 15" Retina Macbook Pro I've found the full size iPad less necessary and am trading back a iPad 3 32GB Wifi for an iPad Mini 32 GB LTE through the Apple Recylcing Program.



The iPad 3 and Retina MacBook Pro are both too close in dimension and features for me to need both. They both have retina screens and are both the "power" version of their respective models.  



The combined weight of the Retina Macbook Pro and iPad with Retina Display is 5.9 pounds (4.46 + 1.44). It can be a bit much lugging both around. Combined weight of laptop and iPad Mini is only 5.14 pounds (4.46 +0.68) which may not seem like a big difference but it is definitely noticeable. Also the iPad Mini is much easier to slip into a snowboard jacket, which is a big plus for me.



First world problem, now that I'm running a retina laptop and iPhone I find myself without an on the go device to test non-Retina images. At home the Cinema Displays do the trick, but it will actually be a partial convenience for the iPad Mini to be non-Retina.


Affordable LTE

If it weren't for recent changes in data plans I'd be getting a WiFi only iPad Mini, but at only $10/mo to add it to my shared data plan I'm sold. I also just got back from spending two weeks in Europe and the ability to use a pre-paid SIM overseas is pretty nice.


The User Agent Problem

Several Web Developers including myself have gripes that Apple decided to use the exact same User-Agent string for the iPad Mini as the iPad 2. I understand Apple's goal is for everything that is designed for a fullsized iPad to work scaled down, but that just isn't always the case especially with small text. I wish Apple would have made the User Agent strings similar, perhaps the iPad Mini being the same but with "Mini" appended at the end. 

If there were a solid way to detect the difference between the iPad Mini and the full sized iPad with just CSS Media Queries this wouldn't be an issue. As far as I know, currently this isn't feasible. I have no idea why the iPad Mini reports a device pixel ratio of 1 when really it has 163dpi while the iPad 2 has 132dpi. I can only assume the W3C is terribly afraid of decimals. 

That said, I'd rather be able to do mobile testing on the iPad Mini than the full sized iPad seen as how there's more edge cases to support and design for.



Sure it will be great one day when the iPad mini has Retina screen, it will render small type much better for one. For the purposes of what I'll be using an LTE iPad Mini for Retina resolution really isn't crucial. I'll be using it for responsive and mobile testing, the world's coolest in dash car mapping system and maybe even fixing minor bugs from the chairlifts at Mt Hood. 

Comments (6)

  1. Dubrod:
    Nov 15, 2012 at 03:33 PM

    Hey bro. You referenced dpi instead of width for CSS Queries. What's the screen rez width of the mini. My 2 cents is I use my iPad 2 in meetings and social events and my 17 inch book for mobile developing.

  2. JP DeVries:
    Nov 16, 2012 at 01:42 AM

    Thanks for the read! Updated to "device pixel ratio" which is the correct term. It's odd that the iPad mini doesn't report higher than 1.

  3. Blue Monkey:
    Nov 17, 2012 at 06:34 AM

    I'm kind of in the same boat as Dubrod. I use my 17" MBP for my developing and graphic design duties. Although I do mobile testing on my iPhone 4s and iPad 3, I tend to use my iPad for mostly personal things, some dev on the go with Diet Coda, and a lot of reading which includes PDFs that just wouldn't be as readable (at least for my eyes) on a mini.

  4. JP DeVries:
    Nov 17, 2012 at 09:42 AM

    One thing the iPad 2 has over the iPad 3 is battery life. The retina screen just drains it so fast.
    For prolonged reading I use a refurbished Kindle DX I picked before the device was completely forgotten. Why Amazon never released a DX with WiFi I'll never understand.

  5. JP DeVries:
    Dec 04, 2012 at 05:30 PM

    I just picked up my iPad Mini and wow it sure is nice. The battery life is great I really like the truly handheld form factor. I much prefer this to the full-size iPad 3.

  6. JP DeVries:
    Dec 09, 2012 at 03:01 PM

    Only comoplaint so far is the magnets in the Smart Cover aren't strong enough. Disconnects too easily

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** Sure won't miss iPad 3 battery life at all **