Apple iPad mini 2 review: Moving up the ranks

Orlin Milinov, 22 November 2013.

Tags: Apple, iOS

The gallery in iOS7 rocks

The Photos app has been redesigned more thoroughly. To begin with, the Photos tab looks better organized. Prior to iOS 7 we used to get a grid of all of photos there, sorted by date. Images are now organized by date and location, for those that have been geo-tagged. This view is called Moments, with a description always at the top, with time, place and date.

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Moments view • Taping on a place label will take you to the map

The Moments view offers multiple photos selection - you can select an entire folder with just a single tap. Mass Delete, Share (including AirDrop) and Add To Album options are available.

You can go a step back, to Collections view where you can get a better view of your photos, sorted into groups with labels and much smaller thumbs. Those thumbs are still clickable, you can even scroll them to find the one you're looking for (small thumbs are hard to navigate through though).

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Collections view

A tap on a city label in Moments or Collections will take you to the old Places view, where you get a map with pins showing where exactly your photos were taken.

Finally, there is the Year view. It squeezes your collection into tight grids for each year.

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Year view

The second tab is Shared photos - it has all your Photo streams. With Photo Stream you can choose some photos to share and the people they will be shared with. Then the photos will be accessible in a dedicated gallery online at www.icloud.com/photostream/, as well as directly on your friends' iOS devices. Your buddies on the receiving end will be able to like them and post comments.

Finally, the third tab is Albums. You get three default album types - camera roll, my photo stream and panoramas. Albums can be added, edited and deleted.

Images are displayed in full size and you can delete, share or edit them. From the sharing menu you also get advanced options such as copy, assign to contact, slideshow, print, use as wallpaper and AirPlay.

You can AirDrop multiple pictures from this interface as well.

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Viewing a single image • sharing options

The photo editor is the same as before with a new option to add filters. It supports rotation, cropping, filters and red-eye removal. There's also an Enhance option too. In Edit mode five keys appear at the bottom for the available editing options.

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The image editor

With every new iPad mini 2 you get the powerful editing apps iPhoto and iMovie as free downloads. The iPhoto allows you also to organize your photos by albums, photo books and you can even create journals - collages of photos you can share via iCould and make it visible to anyone. The iPhoto app has richer editing options than the standard gallery. It has been updated finally with the flat iOS 7 skin.

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iPhoto

Finally, the powerful iMovie editor is available for free as well, you just need to download it once you sign in on the AppStore. You can make your own movies and trailers by adding, cutting, merging, etc. videos, songs and pictures. The app is nicely functional and performs excellently on the A7 chipset.

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iMovie

The Video player is as lame as ever

Many things have changed in iOS 7 but the video player is definitely not one of them. You can upload only supported formats via iTunes or purchase videos from the iTunes store. This is an extremely disappointing showing by a platform that is supposed to excel at multimedia consumption.

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The video player

The lack of extra functionality is bad enough, but having to use just an extremely limited number of media format or resorting to converting files, which is both slow and inconvenient is a real deal-breaker.

In the end the built-in video player is plain useless and users have to resort to using third-party video player apps from the AppStore.

Liten to your music or just stream some with the iTunes Radio

The iOS 7 music player is exactly the same as the one in iOS 6, but now its appearance is in line with the new iOS design. You can create playlists, delete songs right from within the player and reorder tabs whichever way you like.

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Music player

The Now Playing screen hasn't changed in functionality neither is the settings. Even in its seventh major iteration iOS still fails to offer configurable equalizers.

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The Now Playing screen

If you are logged in with a US Apple ID (the service will roll out in more countries soon), your iOS 7 music player will get an additional iTunes Radio tab. It's a music streaming service with preselected music channels, which don't seem to include the entire iTunes content available.

The stations are divided by genres, but once you add a station, you can choose to remove artists or add more songs from an artist/group. You can preview a station before adding it to your list.

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iTunes Radio

In case you like a particular song, you can buy it with just one tap. History is available and you can always return to buy songs later. A Wish List is available as well.

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iTunes Radio Now Playing UI

iTunes Radio is ad-free if you are using iTunes Match. Otherwise, every 7 to 10 songs are broken by about 15sec of commercials.

Audio output is great, just not Air perfect

The Apple iPad Air set the bar for tablet audio output pretty high, but we are still somewhat disappointed that the iPad mini 2 wasn't quite able to match its performance. The more compact of the two new Apple tablets did excellently in our test, but wasn't quite as perfect as its larger sibling.

For starters its stereo crosstalk was slightly wore in both parts of our test. More importantly, however, the volume levels were far lower than those of the Air. While the full-size iPad was among the loudest we have seen, the Retina-packing mini was below average, which would have been disappointing for a flagship smartphone, let alone a tablet.

Other than that the Apple iPad mini 2 did great, delivering output with wide dynamic range and no distortion. The stereo crosstalk was spot-on too, so it still has more than enough to please the vast majority of the users out there.

Check out the table and see for yourself.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Apple iPad mini 2+0.04, -0.39-93.893.70.00110.0067-82.9
Apple iPad mini 2 (headphones attached)+0.11, -0.00-93.693.60.00230.030-62.2
Apple iPad Air+0.09, -0.29-93.993.90.00160.0067-89.9
Apple iPad Air (headphones attached)+0.05, -0.32-94.094.00.00400.015-66.2
Apple iPad mini+0.08, -0.09-82.882.80.00190.017-80.8
Apple iPad mini (headphones attached)+0.18, -0.02-82.882.90.00360.115-80.7
Google Nexus 7 (2013)+0.00, -0.23-92.292.30.0360.020-92.3
Google Nexus 7 (2013)(headphones attached)+0.83, -0.12-92.492.30.0100.208-49.3
LG G Pad 8.3+0.14, -0.11-93.892.90.00210.0082-93.8
LG G Pad 8.3 (headphones attached)+0.29, -0.11-90.792.70.00740.208-53.6

Apple iPad mini 2 frequency response
Apple iPad mini 2 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

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