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The New iPad Mini (daringfireball.net)
176 points by shawndumas on Mar 22, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 149 comments

Apple's lineup is getting so confusing. The iPad Mini is praised by a lot of Apple enthusiasts but for me it just adds more chaos to their product lineup. Which tablet supports which pen? Can I connect my iPad to my Macbook using the included cables? Do I charge with USB-C or lightning? Does my device support 3D touch? What's the difference between an iPad and an iPad Air? What's the difference between the Macbook and the Macbook Air and why is the Air thicker? Does my Mac have a T2 chip (the new iMacs don't). Can I get my device of choice with 128GB (only the XR, not the XS). There's too much segmentation and I think it's appropriate to ask whether this would've happened under Steve. If I can't keep up with this mess, how do they expect non-tech people to do so?

I would argue that the problem with the MacBook line currently is that there's not enough segmentation. The 13" non-Touchbar MacBook Pro and the new Air are confusingly similar, the 12" MacBook seems like it was supposed to have replaced the Air but is now just hanging around shuffling its feet awkwardly, the old non-retina Air is also still hanging around just so they can say they have a laptop for $999, etc.

The iPad lineup to me doesn't seem particularly confusing at all, other than perhaps the naming. There's pretty clear differentiation across the products and price points. I'll be honest, I think some of your questions are deliberately overstated; I think Apple expects "non-tech people" aren't ripping their hair out over the difference between Lighting and USB-C, because they look at the charging cable that came with their new iThing and can pretty easily figure out which end goes into the iThing and which end goes into the wall socket. Most people don't connect their iPads to their MacBooks. Most people shrug at the weird naming. These are mostly tech pundit problems. I would love it if the MacBook lineup could be as clear and non-stupid as the iPad lineup again.

I think it's appropriate to ask whether this would've happened under Steve.

There are certainly things Apple has done in the last five years that make me ask that question, from the Touchbar to the butterfly keyboard to the way iOS's text editing controls, especially with external keyboards, are still shit compared to the Mac after nearly a decade. "But the Air is thicker!" is...just not one of them.

Some problems might be overstated. But I recently had to explain to my cousin the Macbook lineup and how she connects her devices, so it's not just made up. I agree, they should make more distinct models. The current line up is still cleaner than probably any phone/laptop vendor's but also the worst I've seen from Apple and I don't think the reason is that they offer more products than ever.

Well, let's not mince words here -- The new Air was released to capitalize on the popularity of the Air name. I am still working on a mid-2012 MacBook Air (this very post), and it serves me extremely well. That's 7 years almost on the same machine and the only application that gives me any trouble is Microsoft Teams, but even on my Windows desktop Teams runs like a drunk sloth, so I don't even consider it a fault.

Apple's only mistake with the new Air, IMO, is not keeping the old keyboard. I'm right on the verge of needing a new laptop and I'm eagerly looking at a MacBook Air 2018; the keyboard gives me pause, just because it's different than what I'm used to. But the Air name alone, the form factor, and how it's built is basically perfect for me. It does everything I need and then some without making me wait.

As to which you should be choosing though...that is a tough one. The MBP line doesn't feel as unique as it used to, as the price point is just too high for me to justify it to anyone, and the low-end MBPs are basically just heavier MacBook Airs.

I have a 13" MacBook Pro (non-Touchbar), the computer that kind of seemed like "the new MacBook Air" before there was actually, well, a new MacBook Air, and...honestly, I don't think the new keyboard is that bad. I don't love it, by any stretch, but it's something you can get used to, and the slight redesign in the new Air should make it a bit more resilient.

(I wouldn't be surprised to see a new keyboard design roll out across some Mac laptops as early as this year, but if it does, it won't come to the Air for a while. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the new design is still optimized for extreme thinness.)

I bought my second 2012 Air earlier this year. That vintage is so good. I have zero complaints... I'm not sure I'll ever need a better laptop.

It's also wonderful that when I need a new machine it's just $350.

This seems like more of a problem with the laptop lineup. If the lineup had a usb a port as well as usb c, there would be no confusion about what connects, no matter which ipad you have.

Most people still have usb a peripherals, so the laptop situation is confusing. I do podcasting and had to advise someone in the industry on the i/o of new macbooks, it's not obvious for most.

I'm guessing the 12" MacBook isn't getting updated until they get macOS on ARM.

Because as a 12" MB user who'd like some 2019 performance, I can't think of any other good reason.

That might be. I can't hazard any other good guesses, other than perhaps they really didn't expect to keep the Air around and now their original plans for the MacBook are in some disarray.

I see the “What about Steve” comment get posted every time there is a complaint about Apple’s lineup. The strongest rebuttal to this is the iPod line [0], circa 2005 or 2008. Apple has 5-6 full-size models and 5 models of smaller iPods.

Apple has always expanded their lineups to reach the maximum possible market, going both down and up for price points.

I also think you have how customers buy products totally backwards. Apple makes products for a price point and margin. Everything works back from that. Large differentiators are size and power. No one first thinks “I want 128 GB of storage, what are my options.”

That’s not to say that Apple’s current lineup doesn’t have issues, or that there is no confusion amongst models. You correctly point out several of those.

I’d say much of the current confusion in the line has to do with maintaining price points and preparing for ARM in the coming years.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod_Classic#Timeline_of_full-...

I think that the iPad lineup is pretty okay currently. You have the iPad which is the cheapest, Air is lighter and Mini is smaller. They all use lightning and support the Pecil 1. Pro hardware has USB-C, faceid and supports Pencil 2. None of them has 3D touch.

Mac lineup tho... makes less sense.

I think it’s more like there are three tiers:

There is the budget tier with the 2018 regular “iPad.” It uses old hardware but is otherwise relatively cheap and capable.

Next step higher are the iPad Air and iPad Mini. They use current generation hardware and support all the same things the regular iPad does. Pick the Mini for something smaller, or the Air for a regular sized iPad. Bonus with the Air is that it can be used with a Smart Keyboard, so if you wanted an iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard combo before but couldn’t justify the $1000+ price tag then now’s your chance to get in with something a bit cheaper.

At the top end there is the iPad Pro in two sizes. They don’t have TouchID, have FaceID, and support Pencil 2 and USB-C. The non-Pros all support Pencil 1 and Lightning.

I'm so glad 3d touch isn't on every device. It's such a bad technology. Touching should be simple and understandable. 3D touch just feels like random events are happening for no reason. Between long press, tap, and drag there is already plenty of complexity there. 3D touch takes it too far.

But because Apple didn't standardize on it, it will hopefully never get wide adoption.

That said, I'd it does eventually seep into Apple's low end, that will just make it easier for the company that takes a usability-first approach to designing a mobile OS, when they come to eat Apple's lunch.

I think that's a huge opportunity for whoever builds up enough gumption to think a new mobile OS startup is worth trying.

I love 3D Touch, it makes user interfaces better by far. I think calling it a bad technology is completely baseless. I know multiple people who won't upgrade their iPad until they get 3D Touch. Peeking/popping links in a browser is the best UI upgrade to mobile web since scrolling with momentum.

>3D touch just feels like random events are happening for no reason.

I completely disagree, random events is what you get "Between long press, tap, and drag"--3D Touch gives you a similar semblance of control over your smartphone that you'd expect from other HIDs like a mouse. Maybe it's an age thing though, I'm in my 20s, and haven't been able to get my parents to adopt 3D Touch features.

I think 3d touch has problems but they are all tied to software. I find it extremely useful for keyboard cursor. It requires some finesse but the 3d touch version (as opposed to the long press available on iPad and iPhone XR) is more useful as it can do selection by changing pressure. It is not very accessible as it requires some finesse though.

Another feature I use all the time is 3d touch on apps which have quick shortcuts.

Where I agree is that there is too much of a fine line drawn between long press, drag and 3d touch and it is far from easy to be able to activate the desired one 100% of the time.

The fact that you use it all the time doesn't mean it's good design. Often it takes time to find solutions which allow the same benefits without increasing complexity.

3D touch is a the equivalent of "just add more buttons". Sure, people will use the buttons. Doesn't mean it was the best design.

Is the air lighter? Why is it lighter? Does that mean it is missing features? Makes zero sense to me.

Much like sports cars, computers get more expensive when they get lighter. I don't actually know if Air is lighter per se, but it is thinner thanks to the laminated screen.

I think it is kind of similar for macbooks now, if there is a suffix, it means it is somehow better than the base model. (although macbook Air is larger than a macbook... which is weird)

I honestly only know that the pro is more powerful. I don't get the rest of the lineup. I don't get why the new air isn't a macbook (or vice versa) for example. They seem to occupy the same space. Added to that, imo, the macbook is the best industrial design of any laptop ever released and the air wedge shape the worst recent mac's but they decided to revive it for some reason. They should have just made a bigger macbook. Their product line up is a disjointed mess.

I too think that on macs the air should be macbook and vice versa. However then it runs into the issue that classic macbooks have really slow processors whereas the air is faster. At least on the iPad side the Air comes only with benefits.

I do see your point on increased SKUs. I can't afford the pro line across the entire Apple suite. Using price alone, I am guided to the Air or non-pro products. I am sure some folks are only looking at the base core line. Again price is the guide here. As a consumer, I am not really looking at the iMac Pro, Macbook Pros, iPad Pros thus I don't feel the increase in segmentation.

Well it is very clear now Apple wants the Air brand name to be Mid Range. So Pro > Air > Original ( MacBook / iPad ).

MacBook Pro > MacBook Air > Macbook

iPad Pro > iPad Air > iPad ( The Mini actually fits into the Mid Range )

It is similar on iPhone, where I expect Apple to drop the number from naming scheme and just go with

iPhone S > iPhone R > iPhone

Basically Apple is transition all of their product line into three different segment, each with different display size and prices. And I guess these transition will make a lot more sense once the 2019 and 2020 product are out.

An old macbook air screen died, so to upgrade to a new macbook air I needed a bunch of dongles and cables (expensive). (I believe usb-c to tb2 dongle + tb2 cable)

Upgrading an older machine required multiple nested dongles to get to firewire.

This may sound crazy, but I would consider my iPad Mini 4 (with cellular) to be my primary computing device.

To be fair, I have multiple desktop computers, laptops, and servers in my house. And for work we each get a development laptop and a desktop with multiple monitors. So I'm no luddite by any stretch.

But it fits in the front pocket of a pair of Dockers type pants. Meaning, I often leave my phone at home and carry just my iPad.

It travels with me to work and home. I bring it to meetings instead of my laptop, unless I am coding. I leave it open to skype so that conversations don't break my typing flow.

It sits in front of my computer while I am home playing youtube. I bring it onto the front porch on a cool evening for kindle and carcassonne. And it goes with me to the hot tub.

I originally bought it as a travel companion device. But found it fit so well, that I just carry it with me pretty much anywhere.

This may sound crazy, but I would consider my iPad Mini 4 (with cellular) to be my primary computing device.

Not crazy at all. For millions of people around the world, even in developed countries, a phone or tablet is their main computing device.

There was an Apple presentation about it once that mentioned some crazy percent, and I bet it's only gotten larger since then.

I'm with you but with my S10+ at this point.

I use it for browsing the internet casually. As soon as I get to work I hook it up trough my USB-C hub to DeX to watch plex. When I get home, if I want to get some work done I hook it up over DeX and boot ubuntu on it.

I don't bring a computer with me when I travel, I use RDP from DeX if I need to do some real heavy lifting that the Ubuntu distro I have can't do (which rarely happens, but does happen.)

At this point I could go months with my phone, a USB-C PD charger, an HDMI cable, and a cheap ($20) USB-C hub.

DeX is criminally underrated and the major reason I'm going Android (Samsung more than Android even) over iOS this generation. Granted, I'm losing out on security/privacy :(.

I definitely wish Apple would go this route. Seems they could get a lot of mileage with the bandwidth of usb-c.

How do you run Ubuntu on the phone?

Using DeX?

> I leave it open to skype so that conversations don't break my typing flow.

Even though I use it, I'm seriously considering uninstalling Skype on my iPad, since the idle battery drain of Skype is more than everything else on my iPad combined.

My main incentive to cut out Google/Microsoft/Facebook products is to save on battery life, it makes a material difference.

So, it's a primary communication and consumption device.

Very much like a smartphone, but with a bigger and better screen.

Apparently it's the "phablet" of a few years back, finally implemented well.

Except my gen2 mini was my favorite “back when” too ;)

I learned and read quite a lot on it!

Not crazy or I'm crazy along with you. My primary computing device for work and personal tasks is a six inch smartphone. I've actually developed a marked annoyance when working on a laptop or desktop.

> It has the same A12 CPU ... with 3 GB of RAM on the system-on-a-chip

Actually that's package-on-package. The LPDDR4X DRAM is glued (well, reflow soldered) to the back of the A12 Bionic.



There's an acute problem with using the iPad Mini that no one has yet mentioned here. The text is too damn small unless you have perfect eyesight. For example, Hacker News in Safari on the Mini appears in a super tiny font. If you pinch-zoom, the edges of the page roll off the screen, and you'd be constantly panning left and right. I've tried extensions that increase the font size on web pages -- they all have some failing, like making the letters run together or messing up tables.

I'll grant that this is not the fault of the iPad Mini itself. I blame web standards and browsers for not requiring all parts of a page to scale linearly and re-flow cleanly. It is (in theory) a problem solvable entirely by software. However, the reality of the web is what it is. If you don't have perfect eyesight, it's better to buy a large iPad with the same resolution as the Mini, and then everything is nice and legible. It's a shame because I love the portability of the Mini.

There's a fix that every person over 40 eventually learns: Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text

That setting does not increase text size in web pages which was my main complaint. It increases size of text in some menus in iOS (and not even all of them) and not in third-party apps either, and is completely useless for web pages.

You could try a browser called iCab Mobile. This app has an option "Increase text size" for web pages that works with HN (just tested it myself).

There’s a name I haven’t heard in a decade. I didn’t realize iCab had a mobile version. Thank you.

I think it does if the web page doesn't change the font size (which most do, so it's not that useful…).

The same with Android, which has an annoyingly small default font size. I'm only in my mid-20s and I keep the font size at extra large. There is the occasional layout bug when some apps don't account for large font sizes, but otherwise works great. I bump the browser font size to 125% as well.

I have the same problem with Hacker News on iPad. The font is crazy small.

If you ever find a solution, please, let us know! Thanks!

Here's a bookmarklet I use that works pretty well — copy this line of text into a bookmark URL and add it to your bookmarks toolbar/favourites/...

It's a work in progress. You can of course tweak the font-sizes to suit yourself.

....Why did the Pro get USB-C but the Mini is now shipping with Lightning? I'm so confused. I just want all my shit to have one charging cable.

To be able to charge the first-gen Apple Pencil? Which of course raises the question about why they made it compatible with the first-gen Pencil instead of the second-gen. (I think it's reasonable that they didn't want to revamp the edges of the iPad, which would have to have been done to enable inductive charging.)

Addressed in the DF posts. The new pencil requires a flat sided device and wireless charging rig which the Mini doesn’t have, probably due to cost issues. There’s also the matter of product differentiation.

I'm glad they didn't, my main soundcard uses the lightening connector its not optimized for usb c, for musicians there are tons of existing lightening based devices we would have to toss out for usb c so for musician users having lightening and 8th inch audio jack are superior to usb c.

Anecdote: I have a MIDI keyboard that I hook up to my iPad Pro through USB (A to C). I actually own a few small keyboards and none of them use Lightning. What are these Lightning accessories you're referring to?

I use my 4th gen Mini as an electronic flight bag (charts, weather brief, etc) when flying but all my other gear is USB-C and I have to constantly inventory my bag to make sure I have both a USB-C and a Lightning cable lest either my phone (backup EFB device) or ipad dies on a long flight.

This is like .01% of users though.

No, there are millions of users with lightning accessories.

It'd be so easy to just have all of them. Well, for a normal company.

I talked to an apple store employee yesterday about this:

He said one of the reasons for USB C in the Pro is that the tablet draws too much power to charge and operate at the same time over lightning. Also, for 'pro-level' jobs like editing 4K, USB C has much, much faster transfer speeds.

> He said one of the reasons for USB C in the Pro is that the tablet draws too much power to charge and operate at the same time over lightning. Also, for 'pro-level' jobs like editing 4K, USB C has much, much faster transfer speeds.

That doesn't sound right - current iPhones support the fast charging rates of the 18W Apple iPad charger over lightning. And the 10.5" and 12.9" iPads Pro support USB 3 (5 gbps, not 10 gbps like the new iPads) speeds over lightning.

When will people learn that USB-C as it currently stands is just a bag of hurt. iPad Pro has USB-C with an enormous controller size that wouldn't fit into iPhone and provides the speed and flexibility of connecting it to a Display. Which something iPhone wont need ( for now ).

I am hoping USB4 will fix all of these and made two spec of cables. One for Sub 25W, one for 100W. Along with stricter control no USB-C connector. May be then it would make sense to make the the transition.

Because regular iPad owners have iPhones -- so that's one cable across all the devices these owners have.

It’s not an iPad Pro.

No, it's even newer, so we'd expect it to use the same cable if Apple wants a nice transition for their users. But their rent-seeking penny-pinching CEO doesn't care about producing a good product lineup any more. He just cares about margins, and this saves a few cents per unit.

No, it’s an existing iPad with a new chip in it. That’s cheap and easy to make.

You want USB-C? Ok. That means new case. Might as well make other changes because you have to pay for tooling again. And all the assembly lines have to be updated. And people retrained on the new assembly procedures.

All that costs money. And they want to hit a low price point. So they put a new chip in the old thing (and a new screen? But same size) and don’t have to raise the price.

The mini is already more expensive than the iPad. You think an extra $50-70 would help it sell better? All for USB-C?

$50-70 to switch to USB-C? That seems like a pretty healthy exaggeration.

How the hell are you being downvoted for this?!

Have people gone insane?

No, people are reading the original comment about how switching to USB-C would require all-new tooling for the production line for the Mini, because it's not as simple as "just swap out the Lightning port for a USB-C port and keep everything else identical so no extra manufacturing cost whatsoever."

The assertion being made isn't that the USB-C port costs $50. It's that switching to USB-C would require up-front investment that keeping the Lightning port -- which is also still being used in all of Apple's phones and all of the other "non-Pro" iPads -- doesn't.

Right, the cost is up-front fixed costs. So if they sell 10 million iPad Minis, then the estimated cost was $500-700 million? Doesn't that seem a bit implausible?

Apple puts USB-C ports on their pro-level devices so they can use pro-level peripherals, but that isn’t a significant benefit for their consumer-level devices.

In terms of compatibility, continuing to use Lightning is probably better for the target market of the consumer-level devices. More importantly though, using Lightning lets Apple ensure that any accessories will provide a reasonably good experience since they distribute all the connectors to approved third-parties through the MFi program.

This was exactly my point above, but I seemingly have worded it in a way that was was unpopular. This is iPad Air and iPad Mini, not iPad Pro: Apple didn't see the need to figure out how to jam USB-C onto a "standard" iPad when Lightning does just fine.

But it’s not only that Lightning does just fine technically (even though that’s true), it’s that Lightning gives Apple more control over the whole product ecosystem and therefore the experience of using the product.

They don't want to "transition" anything to USB-C. They use USB-C for consumer electronics that can equally-well be a USB host or USB client (like the iPad, or the Apple TV.) They use Lightning for consumer electronics that will only ever be a USB client (like the iPhone or the other iPads.) They set this policy as soon as USB-C came out, and haven't deviated from it since.


!remindme 2 years

I love that someone finally made a small 8" 4:3 tablet again - it seems like the perfect form factor for reading. Right now I'm still using my aging Galaxy Tab S2, but it's software support has ended.

The only serious annoyance I have is the lack of USB-C... all my other devices (laptop, phone, headphones, etc.) are on that new port now and I only have to carry a single charger. Except for the tablet :(

I would likely read on it some if I bought it, but I can't stand anything other than a kindle or paper for reading for an extended period of time.

Kindle is awesome for books, but I use my S2 8.0 for reading the internet / PDFs and watching movies. Which isn't as practical on a Kindle :)

You can get a USB-C to Lightning cable if you want to charge off the same charger.

Wish they'd come out with an iPhone Mini! That is, back to the 5/SE roots. I love the iPad Mini but it doesn't really have a space in my repertoire alongside my SE and Watch.

If this had been in the "Pro" style with a thin bezel and USB-C, it would have been an instant buy.

I agree. For $100 more, they could have had both a thin bezel and usb-c, and I would have bought one instantly.

That kind of defeats the point. They were trying to reach a price - $499 for the Mini wasn’t that price.

Really? Nice to have a supply chain and production tooling expert on this site too!

Or maybe they couldn't have just quickly re-tooled and redesigned everything without making the price too steep compared to the other models.

And why would they? These models will sell like mad. It's not like there's any actual competition in the tablet market. Google doesn't care and Samsung releases a half-hearted attempt every now and then for the hardcode iOS allergics.

So what is the nomenclature for these things now? Apple keeps calling them the "New" i-X, which gets me confused with the last one they released that they called the "new" one, and eventually we settled on some kind of retroactive name for it like "Retina i-X" or "i-X (20XX)".

iPad Mini (2019) seems like the reasonable choice. The Mac and iPad are stable enough as products that the main pressure to upgrade is that it's broken or too slow. It's not like an iPhone where there's a new design language every three years, steadily improving cameras, or big improvements to screen brightness and anti-glare.

If they put iPhone version numbers across all their products you'd have obnoxious names like iMac 19s Max. Calling them by their size and year is more meaningful than trying to remember "How old is an iMac 14?" since they aren't on a strict yearly release clock like the phones are.

I think it's similar to Macs. iPad mini (2019), just like 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2018).

I've had my iPad Mini 2 for years now and love it. Finally a worthy upgrade.

Same, I have a gen 6 ipad that I like and an iPad Mini 2 that I love, I bought the mini 2 for mobile safari testing but outside of my desktops/laptops I spend way more time on the Mini than I do my phone, it's just a convenient form factor.

Think I'm gonna spring for the new mini and give my old mini to the boy.

I feel like the mini is way underrated and I was worried they would cancel it. My mini is my favorite device. I'm excited to trade in my old one for a new one.

> The iPad Mini hits a sweet spot: it’s way bigger than any phone and way smaller than any laptop.

Yeah, I bought a One Mix Yoga 2S for that purpose. I understand the need for pure tablets for some but you can't beat that little powerhouse of a laptop-tablet. The hardware practically matches up with the latest Macbook Air -- Amber Lake Core CPU, 8GB RAM, NVMe SSD. It's 7". I love, love, love it for emergency purposes. Not an everyday workhorse but if you are on call ... beats hauling a 14" laptop everywhere for those once-in-a-half-year emergencies.

I've been eyeing a tablet for a while. Unfortunately, the pickings with Android are rather slim, so that really only leaves the iPad. I haven't bought the iPad (6th gen) due to it only having 2gb of ram, but maybe the Mini is right for me.

I had the original iPad and then an iPad Air 2 and have used the crap out of both of them. Especially on the Air I've played a bunch of "triple-A" games, etc.

It's like a console, not a computer. The software is matched to the hardware, you don't need to worry about it. The Air 2 has 2GB of RAM and it plays X-Com smoother than my PS4 lol. So honestly, no need to worry about the specs.

I've found the iPad line to be extremely long-lasting as well.

I know that the HN crowd likes to complain it's not a "real computer," and I agree it's not the same thing, but it IS a pretty awesome portable computer-like console :)

I'm curious, why are you concerned about 2gb of ram? What do you plan to do on the iPad that requires more than that?

I'm not even sure. I probably wouldn't do anything too extensive. Probably Plex and some light browsing. I just didn't like the idea of limited ram someday causing me issues.

You can't really measure iOS RAM usage to a PC or Android device. The OS handles memory completely differently.

At most you might notice that some memory hungry apps that don't suspend correctly "start over" when switching between multiple apps.

> some memory hungry apps that don't suspend correctly "start over" when switching between multiple apps

Correction: memory hungry apps that don't implement state restoration correctly.

How is that different from how a modern Android manages memory? That's all I've ever noticed from limited RAM for many years now.

Android requires significantly more memory because it’s a garbage collected environment (one of the reasons). Apple’s platforms by comparison have much more efficient memory models, though the developer overhead is arguably a big greater (which Swift has helped to address a bit). To get the same performance on an android device that you would get on an iOS device requires significantly more memory on the android device.

> I just didn't like the idea of limited ram someday causing me issues.

Ignore the specs. Try one out and you'll find that it simply isn't an issue in the vast majority of cases. iOS is very good at managing RAM.

Where it has been an issue in the past is iOS upgrades- part of the reason that older iPads 'slow down' is the baseline RAM starts to be consumed as the OS gets more resource hungry.

Also with the new multitasking features added in recent releases, additional memory becomes a bigger feature add.

Apple gates multitasking features by model, so having more RAM is not a feature add in this case since you do not have control over this.

Plex runs well on the first gen iPad with 256Mb of RAM as does Netflix. Browsing is a different issue. My 2017 iPad is perfectly fine.

Browsing the web?

Yeah, no. 2 GB of RAM is plenty for browsing the web; this isn’t Android where everything less than some absurd number of gigabytes (4? 6?) is useless.

Maybe I open too many tabs at once, but my 5th gen iPad runs out of RAM while web browsing.

I've never once felt like the iPhone browser (mine has 2GB too) lacked RAM.

Same here. The lack of Firefox with extensions is by far and away the single biggest pain point I have with web browsing on iOS, 2GB of RAM doesn't even register.

On the iPhone it's fine, but my iPads have always been constantly reloading tabs and felt like they cheaped out too much on the RAM (or needed a swap system)

It's vanishingly unlikely that you will ever notice any RAM-related issues on the Mini. Certainly not during web browsing.

The Pixel Slate has been a fantastic travel computer.

I wouldn't want to work on it all day, every day. However, it's convenient to carry, and it runs Android and Linux apps reasonably well. So, if I want to work remotely for a week and then take a month's vacation, I can use Sublime on the Slate and then totally unplug from work without lugging a MacBook around. I can download Netflix for planes/trains/buses. And of course, it's perfect for any web surfing.

I realize it's a luxury to have a device that's just for relaxing in bed or taking on the road, but the Pixel Slate is really underrated for that use case.

Problem with the Pixel Slate is that once you attach the keyboard it's both heavier and more expensive than the PixelBook for comparable specs. (And also is perpetually out of stock outside of the US Google Store.)

Android tablets are dead. Now there are Chrome OS tablets and 2-in-1s that run Android apps. I've found that I prefer the 2-in-1 form factor and that I reach for it far more often than I ever reached for a tablet.

Surface Go?

I second this recommendation for anyone looking for a (non-Apple) tablet these days. The Surface Go is a good tablet and its built-in stand works really well. It's a "real computer" too, with a surprisingly usable snap-on keyboard cover, and can power my 3840x1600 ultrawide + all peripherals through a single USB C cable.

Unfortunately it’s slow and runs Windows. Windows is a horrible for touch UI.

Windows used to have a horrible touch interface, but it's quite wonderful these days.

It’s still horrible and inconsistent. Tried using Office with just touch? Even going into some of the Windows settings brings up an old fashion UI.

I have a Dell 2n1 running Windows 10.

Agree about some of the inconsistency, especially in preferences. It really feels like creaking around old corners of the 20+ year old UI it is. Microsoft needs to work on that. Also swipe-typing on the keyboard doesn't work in all apps (notably, Chrome).

But some of these interface issues are just hard. How do you make the same interface work well when you're using your finger on a small tablet vs using a trackpad/mouse connected to big monitor?

Overall I really enjoy my Go. It's great as a tablet for tablet things, and if you want to do computery things like use an Office suite, snap on a keyboard or plug it into a monitor and it works fine there too. Using Office for very long with touch is not something I'd want to do even if the UI for it was perfect so it seems like a strange complaint to me.

It’s not just Office. Most of the apps aren’t optimized for a touch UI. At the end of the day,it’s still Windows with all of the millions of services slowing it down, and a processor and an operating system not optimized for low power environments.

The Intel processor it uses is not as performant as the processor that comes in the $329 iPad. The battery life is worse than that of an iPad (https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/surface-go-battery-life)

I don’t even want to imagine the sluggishness of the GPU in the Go.

The iPad has been getting 10 hour+ battery life since 2010.

The trackpad is the showstopper for an iPad for many, but you can use any third party BT keyboard.

The Go is physically larger than the Mini.

pixel slate?

$3xx - iPad 9.7

$4xx - iPad Mini 7.9

$5xx - iPad Air 10.5

Is it just me, or is the small cheap one to give to the kids, or keep around as the 'spare iPad', missing from the lineup? Even if it was just 20 or 30 bucks less than the current iPad 9.7 ?

Apple's "budget" options are essentially last year's models. Given my little ones still rock an iPad mini 1 and it still runs Netflix fine...

That's what "iPad" is for.

question? couldnt apple make an accessory that connects/syncs the pencil 2 to the ipad mini 5 without having to use the pencil 1?

How would you charge it?

I think PHGamer answered that already: an accessory. Presumably some kind of dongle.

But there aren't any ports on it.

The hypothetical dongle would get electricity via the iPad port and then would expose a surface that would leverage the magnetic coupling/inductive charging for the Apple Pencil in the same way that it works now. Might not be the most attractive dongle but I don't think there's anything physically impossible in engineering something with the capabilities needed to allow charging...

Is there anything similar to the new iPad Mini on the Android side?

Not really, AFAIK. Android tablets are not a particularly great market…

8” tablets with broadly similar features exist (e.g., Galaxy Tab S2 8”), though details vary a lot, and since I don't think any near the top of the field have a refresh in a couple years (8” isn't a hot spot in the Android tablet market), they're probably mostly less expensive but not quite at feature parity, ignoring OS/ecosystem preference issues.

They usually get bad screens in that segment. The last 8" Android tablet that I would consider good was Huawei MediaPad M5, which is 8.4" 2560x1600.

I used to read Gruber often, but I feel his reviews especially grew stale and uninformative, well written but plain. Also, he’s quite late to a lot of stuff while not adding enough insights to justify being that late. I think I changed in the way I read Apple-related news, so maybe he has always been like that and it’s just my perception that shifted? Either way, I think I just don’t want to spend my time reading one-company pundits. (He usually gets any other company’s doings so shallowly wrong, it’s embarrassing)

I love that the mini has been refreshed with the retina display - though was hoping for the new form factor (no button + smaller bezels)

The last couple of Minis have all had Retina Displays, with the same resolution as the larger iPads.

This one is TruTone and laminated display though. Definitely an improvement.

Yeah, no doubt.

I posit that while iPads may be "the best" tablet, you could get 95% as much utility out of a 3 year old Kindle Fire.

Does your Kindle Fire perform well?

I don't actually have one. I never use tablets for anything. I have a few iPads in the house that fell in my lap and they are basically used as portable YouTube machines by my kids.

I do use a phone that costs $300 unlocked and is 95% as useful an iPhone.

I have an 8" from last year that performs fairly well. I only use it for reading comics and watching videos, and I have f-droid and some programs from there installed (Termux, firefox klar) and it never feels like it's lagging or too slow. The dual speakers are nice, and I like that it has a microSD card slot.

> Face ID is so much better than Touch ID.

Yeah, no.

Have you tried using it?

I like thumb to unlock myself. Main reason I'm on iphone 8 for ... forever probably.

I have trouble with FaceID but I also have trouble reconciling my experiences with other people's reports of perfect flawlessness.

It might be that people have the attention awareness on/off, use the phones in very different conditions, etc.

yup... have the iPad Pro 11 & an older mini (use that for the gym/cardio and when I don't want to lug something so big around)... I do not use FaceID at all. Tried it, yet went back to the Pin.

Why not? Did it not work for you?

if this had edge to edge and face ID I'd line up to get it.

>>> The iPad Mini uses a Lightning port and has a microphone jack.

Is Apple returning to reality?

No, they just kept the same external ports as last time.

No FaceID? TouchID often failed. never works with wet fingers, for example.

I’ve also gotten used to saying “Hey Siri, my weather” as I pick up my phone then looking at my screen to unlock.

    “open New York Times”
    “open Wall Street Journal”
    “open CNBC’
I should look into Siri shortcuts. I’d like a “Hey Siri, Hacker News”


Done! Siri was ready with Hacker News as a suggestion.

I noticed on another device, even without a shortcut, I can say “open the website Hacker News”

I wish I could use Siri as you describe. Alas, it rarely recognizes the wake word unless I’m holding it very close, and queries take far too long anyway. For weather, it is much faster to simply pick up the phone, which automatically turns on the screen, then swipe right.

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