I’ve gone through nearly every iteration of iPad that Apple has brought out, simply because they’ve made great advances in technologies available while at the same time not popping it into a plastic disposable body… they’ve always been aluminum, and constructed beautifully.
Having the iPad 3, I found many uses for it… some even replacing what I’ve done on the desktop. Now, it’s definitely never been a replacement by any means. That being said, I have used Google Voice for nearly 4-5 years as my voicemail & telephone service. I’ve had cell phones that were forwarded to by Google Voice, but with my iPad 3 I began using Google Voice directly. I popped a bluetooth earpiece in, kept my iPad 3 running Talkatone, and nearly instantly had a phone. The only downfall was the size, since the iPad 3 isn’t pocket-ready, and must be carried under your arm.
Bring in the iPad Mini! Originally I was thinking it’d be a failure, since it’s essentially an iPad but with a 7.9 inch screen. I didn’t factor in the changes that come with smaller tech, such as smaller size (5.3 inches wide x 7.87 inches tall x 0.28 inch thick), much lighter (almost half a pound, 0.69 lb), and more mobile.
After purchasing it, I’ve ran it through the wringer with usage. In my real-world usage, I haven’t found much of a speed-related difference between the iPad Mini & the iPad 3. The memory on the iPad Mini (512MB versus the iPad 3’s 1Gb) makes the multiple tabs on the browser reload when shifting between memory-intensive pages, but that’s a minor drawback.
On the communications-side, the wifi feels more responsive. My usage has been on 802.11G & N, both in my home & out at random locations. A nice touch is the default setting of not asking if you’d like to join a network everytime one pops up when you aren’t connected. (can be changed in the wireless settings, if this feature is desired)
One of the least desirable features of the Mini (and iOS 6) is the new Apple maps. It has a future, it’s not highly polished right now. The downfall is the Google maps application was removed from iOS 6. This requires opening the web browser and going to maps.google.com in order to utilize the Google maps capabilities on iOS 6. The plus side is the ability to create a shortcut to a web URL by simply clicking on the “arrow in a box” icon next to the URL, and selecting “save to home screen”.
The screen is not the retina-style screen that resides in the iPad 3 &4 (and iPhone 5). The pixels on the retina display are 264 pixels per inch on the iPad 3/4, while the Mini has 163 pixels per inch. While the pixel count is lower, it doesn’t appear as grainy as the iPad 2. Maybe there’s some other technology at use to minimize the pixillation, however for everything I’ve done on the Mini graphics-wise it appears wonderful. I’ve used Netflix & Hulu Plus with wonderful resolution, along with games I’ve had on my other iPad such as Flick Golf HD, SkyView, Real Racing HD, Plants Vs Zombies HD, Catapult King, Babel Rising 3D, etc. That being said, perhaps I’m not a stickler when it comes to high graphics perspective, I’ll leave that up to the other users.
The end result is, I’m perfectly happy with the iPad Mini as an easily portable (pocket-ready!) companion with a 5 MP camera & 720p forward-facing camera for Facetime or your own picture. (not that I use it) As a telephone, it averages about 1.4mb per minute using Talkatone through Google Voice. Obviously, ~82mb per hour of talk time would allow ~37 hours of talk time on a 3Gb data plan. Thats ~2200 minutes! Through AT&T LTE, it’s $30.00/month currently, at that. Not too shabby if you ask me.