Camera

The iPad mini features a 1.2MP front facing FaceTime HD camera and a 5MP rear facing iSight camera. The rear camera shoots photos at 2592 x 1936, the same resolution as the 4th generation iPad. Both of the new iPads have the same f/2.4 lens, however the mini features a wider field of view thanks to its shorter 3.3mm focal length.

Camera Comparison
  Sensor Resolution Compressed JPEG Size Aperture Focal Length
Apple iPad 4 5MP 2592 x 1936 3.4MB f/2.4 4.3mm
Apple iPad 2,4 0.7MP 960 x 720 344KB f/2.4 2.0mm
Apple iPad mini 5MP 2592 x 1936 3.1MB f/2.4 3.3mm
Apple iPhone 5 8MP 3264 x 2448 3.1MB f/2.4 4.1mm
Apple iPod Touch 5 5MP 2592 x 1936 3.1MB f/2.4 3.3mm

Still performance of the rear facing camera is very similar to the 5th generation iPod Touch, and not as good as the 4th generation iPad.

The front facing camera is also similar to what you find in the iPhone 5 and 5th generation iPod Touch:

Camera Comparison
  Sensor Resolution Compressed JPEG Size Aperture Focal Length
Apple iPad 4 1.2MP 1280 x 960 426KB f/2.4 2.2mm
Apple iPad 2,4 0.3MP 640 x 480 105KB f/2.4 1.8mm
Apple iPad mini 1.2MP 1280 x 960 372KB f/2.4 2.2mm
Apple iPhone 5 1.2MP 1280 x 960 400KB f/2.4 2.2mm
Apple iPod Touch 5 1.2MP 1280 x 960 406KB f/2.4 2.2mm

Performance of the front facing camera is decent, and a significant improvement compared to the iPad 2 (you can see comparison shots in the gallery above):

Although I'm continually impressed by folks using tablets as their primary cameras at trade shows and press events, I don't believe the same standards apply to tablets as they do to smartphone camera systems. That being said, it's good to see continued improvements here.

Video

The iPad mini shoots 1080p video from its rear camera and 720p on the front. It looks like Apple is borrowing from the iPhone 5's encoder improvements here as video shot with the rear camera is encoded using High Profile H.264 (L4.1) at 17.1Mbps. The improvement in encode quality is possibly unlocked through software/firmware rather than an actual hardware change since this is still running on A5r2 silicon. In our iPhone 5 review, Brian pointed out that the A6 uses the same encode/decode hardware as the A5 but its full capabilities weren't unlocked until the A6. Given that encode quality has also improved on the A5r2 based iPad mini, it would seem that Apple limited earlier designs either due to a lack of time or to stagger its improvements across generations. 


The front facing camera shoots baseline video at roughly 10.6Mbps, a huge improvement over the iPad 2 and iPad 3:


Video quality is definitely good enough for web use:

Battery Life and Charging WiFi Performance
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  • Greg512 - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    I haven't read through the whole review, just the conclusion, but the side-by-side photo with the Nexus really accentuates how much larger the Mini is. Other than that difference, I think ecosystem is the only significant reason to buy the Mini over a competing tablet. The hardware just doesn't impress like the iPad 3. Reply
  • Jorange - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    But is it too wide to hold one-handed for long periods? Reply
  • Greg512 - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - link

    I tried it out at a store and my impression is holding it one-handed is pretty uncomfortable. I also find the Nook tablet pretty uncomfortable to hold one handed, but the Mini is certainly no better, probably worse. Plus, holding it one-handed in portrait (if you grip from the side) blocks some of the screen. Reply
  • Pantsu - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    I'd have to agree. While the mini is thinner and has perhaps somewhat better build quality compared to the nexus 7, when comparing them side to side, I'd have say my Nexus 7 was more comfortable to hold in one hand. Also it just happens to fit in my jacket pocket while the mini is too wide.

    Even though the aspect ratio in the mini might be preferable for web, you still end up zooming, and then again video is better with a 16:9 display.
    Reply
  • DERSS - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    But yes, it is 15 mm (1.5 cm, 0.6 inch) wider, it has to be taken into account. Though most of its width is compensated by lesser thickness, so overall perimeter just a little bit bigger than that of Nexus 7. Reply
  • DeciusStrabo - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    I think the backside material of the Nexus 7 is what makes it so comfortable to hold, next to the size. Unlike my iPad 2 it simply doesn't feel uncomfortable at any point. Can't get to cold or hot or be slippery.

    Oh, a Nexus 7 with the hardware of the Nexus 10 and a 1600x1200 8" screen and the Nexus 7 backside... My dream tablet. Alternatively a iPad Mini with a full Retina screen and a A6X/2 GB RAM (the 512 GB is the worst part of my iPad 2 and I can't believe they did it again in 2012 with the Mini).
    Reply
  • Solandri - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - link

    Standard paperback book sizes are:

    A: 110mm x 178mm
    B: 129mm x 198mm
    Trade: 135mm x 216mm

    Nexus 7: 120mm x 198mm
    iPad mini: 135mm x 200mm

    The A format paperback is the kind you can shove in your back pocket. Easy to hold in one hand. The B is slightly bigger, and most people can hold it in one hand. The trade paperbacks are the bigger more expensive kind, more like a hardcover book but with a soft cover. Most people have to bend them to hold in one hand.

    The Nexus 7's width falls between A and B paperbacks in width. The iPad Mini is trade paperback size in width, even with the reduced bezel. Personally I think Apple goofed here, picking a size larger than what the publishing industry settled on as ideal for one-handed carrying and reading after decades of product testing.

    I'm pretty sure Apple chose to make the iPad Mini 7.9" instead of 7" because the 4:3 aspect ratio would've made movies on a 7" iPad smaller than on 7" 16:9 Android tablets. By making the iPad Mini 7.9" they make movies on it slightly bigger than on a 7" Android tablet. But the cost in one-handed holdability isn't worth it IMHO.

    They tried to make up for it by cutting down weight, which makes it easier to hold by one edge. But that carries its own drawbacks:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MMmLQlrBws#t=0m30s
    Reply
  • Jakers Ugly Brother - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    Actually, the iPad mini is almost exactly the same size and shape as the Amazon Kindle 2 (the old white keyboard one), differing only in slightly higher weight. The dimensions are so close that I have to believe that Apple was using the K2 as a reference for the mini.

    Most K2 users agree that it is extremely easy and comfortable to hold one-handed for hours, and very easy to carry.

    Put a $5 silicon or TPU case on the mini, and it too becomes extremely comfortable to hold for hours.
    Reply
  • darwinosx - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    Apple did nothing with 7' Android tablets in mind. Reply
  • stfuyolo - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - link

    no i own one and if your hand gets tired then you can balance it on one hand, i can grip it for a while and I have a case aswell on it so that is thicker!! Reply

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