iPad Mini debuts: is 7 inches the 'tablet sweet spot' for travellers?

By David Flynn, October 24 2012
iPad Mini debuts: is 7 inches the 'tablet sweet spot' for travellers?

Apple's new iPad Mini will launch in Australia next week, starting from $369 for the basic 16GB WiFi model through to $729 for the top-line edition with 64GB and 4G connectivity.

As expected, the iPad Mini sports a 7.9 inch screen against the 9.7 inch panel of the 'classic' iPad. This specific size was chosen so that the iPad Mini can easily run existing iPad (and iPhone) apps.

However, the iPad Mini doesn't use the lush Retina display of the latest iPad, with Apple settling for a standard (1024 x 768) resolution screen to keep costs down.

That said, the Mini's screen will look a little more 'punchy' compared to a non-Retina iPad because of the higher pixel density which comes from cramming the same number of pixels onto a smaller screen.

The 4G versions of the iPad Mini will work with the new 4G networks of Telstra and Optus, and in common with the iPhone 5 the iPad Mini uses Apple's new Lightning connector (and on 4G models, a nanoSIM card).

Here's how the iPad Mini family shakes out.

16GB, WiFi: $369
32GB, WiFi: $479
64GB, WiFi: $589
16GB, WiFi + 4G: $509
32GB, WiFi + 4G: $619
64GB, WiFi + 4G $729

The WiFi-only iPad Mini will be on sale from November 2 with pre-orders from this Friday, October 26, while Apple says the WiFi+3G version "arrives in stores in late November".

Want to win an iPad Mini? We're giving one away: click here to enter!

The conventional iPad has also been upgraded to sport global-friendly 4G, a faster processor and the new Lightning connector, although the pricing hasn't changed.

Don't forget: if you're buying an iPad Mini, iPad or almost any other piece of travel gear you can take advantage of the TRS refund scheme to claim back the GST portion of the price.

The sweet spot for travellers?

The iPad Mini sees Apple going up against other mid-sized and mainstream-priced tablets, most notably the Google Nexus 7 – which is tipped to undergo a revamp which will double the storage to a maximum 32GB for the same $299 price as today's 16GB model, and push the 16GB unit down to the $249 slot of the current 8GB entry-level Nexus.

Of course, there are other 7 inchers out there – including tablets from BlackBerry and Samsung, with others such as the new Acer Iconia A110 on the way.

It makes us wonder if 7 inch tablets might turn out to be the sweet spot for travellers.

It's not that anybody has complained that 10 inch tablets are too big, but the added portability of a smaller device – coupled with low prices that almost make them a 'no brainer' buy, especially for the first-time tablet owner – could see devices like the iPad Mini and Nexus 7 carve out their own niche in airport lounges, planes, hotels and cafes.

What's your take: will you be buying an iPad Mini or another 7 inch tablet, and would you recommend one to your friends and colleagues? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 527

I am looking forward to the mini... It looks to be just the right size for frequent travelling and I may even become a convert to reading books from it. As much as I love the current size of the iPad I think the mini will be better for all round use.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 260

I was going to buy the New iPad on the weekend but I didn't for whatever reason. Glad I didn't, I don't mind waiting a few weeks for the iPad 4. The mini looks good, but I have an iPhone and if I wanted something as small as the iPad Mini, I'd probably just get a Kindle Fire HD.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

I'm not convinced by the size yet. I like the fact that the iPad feels substaintial and proper, and not too small/gadgety. The size/weight of the full size version doesn't bother me at all given that most of my use is sitting down, while the smaller form appears to be more useful for more active uses (which is certainly how Apple seems to be pitching it, with the whole 'use with one hand' line).

That said, I'm open to all the possibilities... It definitely looks very nice.


10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

A frequent traveller wants to travel light, yet with our obsession with devices, Apple would have us carry an iPhone, iPad mini for the plane and reading books in bed, and at least an iPad and maybe a Macbook or work provided PC.  That's four and fast using up carry on luggage noting all the iDevice protectors, and a pain in the proverbial to charge (at least two cables, and probably two chargers just to keep up.

The mainstream press are marketing the device as a solution for the education sector, which as a qualified teacher  I can tell you is rubbish as they don't do anything to resolve the information needs of students, and the needs of teachers to control the information on the device. (I took 12 months LWOP to study school teaching recently and iPads in the school were just a waste).

To be honest, I cannot work out what niche this device fills.  It's too big to carry around on one's person unless you wear a trenchcoat or you carry a bag everywhere, and doesn't have in my opinion sufficient real estate for productivity.  Furthermore, all the apps are going to have to be re-engineered to work.

I think business travellers will be better served with a convergance tablet (MS Surface comes to mind as it is not relying on Bluetooth which means it can be used in the air) and a phone with same email/contact integration.  If you want a reader with all the OH&S benefits of eInk, a basic Kindle, Sony Reader or Kobo is sufficient, and that is one less device that will need charging while you are travelling.


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

"Furthermore, all the apps are going to have to be re-engineered to work". No they are not, as the article very clearly says, the iPad Mini's 7.9 inch screen size "was chosen so that the iPad Mini can easily run existing iPad (and iPhone) apps."


10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

Concede that point, same pixels as iPad 1 and 2.  I still agree with Steve Jobs' earlier statements re a 7-inch device.  I just find it intriguing that Apple are trying to create a device for each type of use, that compels us to carry lots, whereas MS are going down convergance path for content generation and browsing on tablets, and browsing with phones.  My wife's MacBook Air is being replaced with a Surface, and my iPad will be something similar - with the iPad doing what it does best - keeping the kids entertained.

19 Sep 2012

Total posts 9

Why do you make assertions you have no idea about? There is no tablet with more educational software than the iPad, and you comment about the device not meeting the needs of teachers to control the information on the device is just plain wrong. iOS has industry standard MDM:


Teachers can lock the devices down into booting even into just a single app:


And iOS 6 Guided Access lets them disable physical buttons and on–screen controls for educational apps:


You say you're a teacher? How about you do some research before you make baseless commentary. 


10 Sep 2011

Total posts 162

I've seen the tablet rolled right out across many schools in the NT.  

No thought went into the process other than rolling out WiFi.  Minimal integration into the existing data on the network beyond email, no lockdowns in the classroom, no portal, no controls whatsoever.  Just get iPads for everybody and they'll be happy and smug.  Meanwhile, the teacher is fighting a constant battle against students using Twitter, looking up the footy, etc.

You are right, teachers can lock down devices, but you are talking about somebody actually doing some architecture first.    Suddenly, your iDevice becomes a lot more expensive, and productivity (for instance, getting students to do 500 word typed essays, or even a blog) it is still difficult with the tablet keyboard interface without adding on those extras like bluetooth keyboards, and half the kids haven't charged their iPad.

Other schools that I am aware of that use Android tablets or Windows laptops have  a policy of mandating spare batteries, and the software is controlled with specific portals, etc.  Schools are content generation zones, yet the iPad is primarily about consumption.

To create seriously productive classrooms using computers/tablets costs a lot, and requires the profession to change its way of thinking.  This is why exclusive private schools do it well, and everybody else, well, they think the capital costs for WiFi and the devices is it. 

19 Sep 2012

Total posts 9

So, how are any of those things the fault of the device?


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

I'm in two minds about this. It's sort of an in-between for people who don't have a Kindle or a regular iPad, and I don't know how big that market would actually be when it comes to travellers, I think a lot of us already have one or the other?

I can see the iPad Mini being good for books but not for magazines, the screen would just be too small.

I've got an iPad, the original model, and was thinking about upgrading to the latest one, now that it has an even faster chip plus 4G that could be the way I go.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 783

It's just filling out their product line - Apple now want to offer everything to everybody so nobody can say "it's too big, small, light, heavy" etc. You want a small one? Large one? Apple's got you covered. Clever marketing and a response to all the ebook readers and Android tablets. Plus all the brainwashed folk are a quick customer. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 116

Let's face it - whatever Apple releases will sell. Look at Apple TV - it has been widely considered a flop and has still sold over 1 million units. Not too shabby

I have an iPad, and will also buy the iPad mini and depending on the type of business trip, length of flights etc or my mood will take either one or both with me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

Having used a Blackberry PlayBook for over a year, its a great size for travelling...

Apple is crazy with its pricing however, the PlayBook, Kindle Fire are under half the price for similar hardware.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 187

Um, the iPad mini actually uses a nano sim (same as the new iPhone 5) not the larger micro sim which is in iPad, iPad 2 and new iPads, and the iPhone 4/4s. Just to make it even more complicated. 

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