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The new iPads: What you need to know

Macworld Staff | Oct. 25, 2012
Between Apple’s presentation at its Tuesday press event, the press releases and spec sheets that followed, and our all-too-brief hands-on session, we’ve been able to get a pretty good first impression of the new iPad mini and, to a lesser extent, the fourth-generation iPad. So while we wait for our review units to arrive, here’s what we know so far.

Between Apples presentation at its Tuesday press event, the press releases and spec sheets that followed, and our all-too-brief hands-on session, weve been able to get a pretty good first impression of the new iPad mini and, to a lesser extent, the fourth-generation iPad. So while we wait for our review units to arrive, heres what we know so far.

The iPad mini

How small is it, really?

The iPad mini is 7.9 inches tall, 5.3 inches wide, and 0.28 inch thick. For comparison, note that the new fourth-generation iPad measures 9.5 by 7.3 by 0.37 inches. The iPad minis volume is less than half of the big ones. Obviously, the iPad mini is lighter, too, weighing 312 grams (11.0 ounces) versus 662 grams (23.4 ounces). For the sake of further comparison, Googles Nexus 7 tablet is roughly 7.8 by 4.7 by 0.4 inches and weighs 340 grams (12.0 ounces), so the iPad mini is a bit smaller.

What about the screen?

The iPad minis screen is 7.9 inches on the diagonal, compared with 9.7 inches for the full-size iPad. Although its smaller than the regular iPads display, its diagonal measurement is twice that of the iPod touch (4 inches).

The iPad minis display provides the same resolution as the original iPad and the iPad 2: 1024 by 768 pixels. Thats much lower than the 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution of the Retina display found on the third-generation and fourth-generation iPads. The new taller iPod touch models have 1136-by-640-pixel resolution.

However, keep in mind that while the first two iPads offered 1024 by 768, they did so on 9.7-inch screens, whereas the iPad mini has the same pixel dimensions on a 7.9-inch screen. As a result, the pixel density of the iPad mini is considerably higher than that of the old iPads, working out to 163 pixels per inch on the iPad mini, versus 132 ppi on the iPad 2. Thats not even close to the 264 ppi of the third- and fourth-generation iPads or the 326 ppi of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5. But next to the iPad 2, this is a significantly sharper screen. One other consequence: The on-screen keyboard could be pretty tight. Well find out more when we have more-extensive hands-on time with the device.

Does the screen change mean that developers will need to create yet another version of their apps?

Thankfully, no. Because the iPad minis screen has the same resolution as the screen on the first two iPad models, iPad apps that work with those modelsmeaning the vast majority of iPad-optimized appswill work with the iPad mini without any developer tweaks.

On the other hand, everything will be smaller on an iPad minis screen. If a particular app uses especially small interface elementsbuttons, for examplethose items may be more difficult to tap on the iPad mini. We suspect that some developers will need to adjust their apps to be more usable on the iPad mini.

 

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