Tablet

iPad Mini 5 Review


Apple has revived their iPad Mini line up after 4 years of everyone, including myself, thinking it was dead. This is the brand new iPad Mini, and here are my thoughts on Apple’s smallest and most portable tablet!


HARDWARE

The Mini 5 starts at $400, which is $70 more than what the original iPad Mini used to cost back in 2012. It’s currently not the cheapest iPad that you can buy, there’s the entry level iPad which is larger, but it also comes with weaker specs and a significantly worse display.

What the iPad Mini offers compared to the Air and Pro for example, is a very compact form factor. In fact this thing is so compact that I can hold it in one hand and if you have some fairly larger pockets or a hoody it would even fit in those. I would highly recommend this if you travel a lot as it is the perfect iPad to carry on a plane or a coach trip.

Design comparison between the original iPad Mini and the Mini 5

Design comparison between the original iPad Mini and the Mini 5

My only complaint here is that whilst it is extremely portable, the design basically hasn’t changed since the first iPad Mini was launched back in 2012. The Mini 5 retains the small improvements that the Mini 4 got, like the laminated display and the thinner overall form, whilst also getting a darker shade of space grey, which does look really nice.

The edges are not reflective anymore, they’re not matte, but that’s it. We do have the exact same thick bezels as the original, which you can argue is good to have on a tablet, since you have something to hold it by, but that’s not necessarily true. The 2018 iPad Pro for example, had some insanely thin bezels and the accidental touch rejection was so good on that thing that you could hold it by the display and still use it! Now the Mini itself does have some incredible accidental touch rejection but only on the sides. So it is no problem at all if you accidentally touch the display when using this in portrait due to the thin side bezels.

Now I have seen a lot of reviewers and tech websites say that the iPhone XS Max is almost as big as an iPad Mini is, and there’s no point in getting a Mini anymore, which isn’t correct at all. 

You see the Mini has a 4:3 aspect ratio display compared to 19.5:9, which means that you can read full sized pages of a book or even comic books, without having to scroll or zoom in on the Mini. So if you’re into reading books and pretty much browsing in general, the Mini is a significant upgrade from even a large screen smartphone.

Speaking of reading, the display itself has been improved significantly over the years. We got a Retina Display with the Mini 2 and that laminated display I mentioned earlier with the Mini 4, but with the Mini 5, everything got even better.

A comparison in brightness between the iPad Mini 5 (Left) Mini 4 (Right)

A comparison in brightness between the iPad Mini 5 (Left) Mini 4 (Right)

The colors are more vibrant, with the inclusion of a DCI-P3 panel, just like on the iPad Pro so everything just pops, and the difference between the 5 and the 4 is definitely noticeable. It’s also a brighter display, which I do like a lot! It can now go up to 500 nits compared to the 350 or so we had before, so this would be a great tablet to use outdoors and on the go. At 326PPI this is also the sharpest iPad, with all the others having which 264PPI, and it does have to be that way since the Mini is smaller and you would therefore be holding it closer to your eyes.

Overall it’s a great display, I just wish that the display was larger. There’s so much room on the top and the bottom that Apple isn’t utilising which I really hope changes with the next generation’s design. 

For those of you who like taking pictures with iPads the camera’s pretty good, for an iPad Mini that is. It’s nowhere near the capabilities of the iPad Pro’s camera but the front camera is now a 7MP sensor, from the horrible 1.2MP one that we had on the Mini 4. Unfortunately the back camera isn’t that great, it’s an old 8MP sensor from a few iPhone generations ago and can only do 1080p video but the Apple A12’s processor does make a pretty big difference in terms of image processing. So if you would be using it for scanning documents and occasional photo taking, it’s more than good enough. 

 

PERFORMANCE

Now in terms of the iPad Mini 5’s performance and fluidity, every single iPad Mini came with the same processor that the iPhones came with a year before. The Mini 1 released in 2012 came with the Apple A5 CPU, same as in the iPhone 4S from 2011 and so on. 

But the Mini 5, instead of coming with the Apple A11 from the iPhone X, it actually comes with the A12 from the iPhone XS!  Which means the performance on this thing is incredible! Everything is buttery smooth, it maybe even more powerful than your own laptop!

I think that the best thing about having this much power in such a small tablet is that becomes literally the perfect portable gaming console. iOS games are not only the best ones on any mobile platform, in terms of graphics and how well they run on older devices, but on the Mini 5 for example, thanks to the power of the A12, you can play games such as Fortnite in native resolution at high settings and you can even attach a controller! 

Editing 4K video may be difficult with such a small display

Editing 4K video may be difficult with such a small display

With this boost in performance you can do video editing on this, even 4K video editing, but I wouldn’t really recommend it because of the small display size, but what I’m getting at is that whatever you throw at this it can easily handle it!

In terms of how well iOS runs on this, it’s still iOS so you’re very limited in terms of functionality but since the iPad Mini runs on the iPad UI rather than the iPhone UI, you can actually run multiple apps at the same time.

Apple does offer you years of day 1 updates too, the iPad Air 2 from 2014 is still fully supported 5 years after it was launched. So expect to be able to see this for many years!

It’s worth noting that iOS 13 would be coming with some major iPad UI overhaul and I am 100% sure that some, if not all of those features would be coming to the Mini 5 as well. Even with iOS 12 we got full gesture support, just like on the 2018 iPad Pro, so even if the home button is still there you can indeed use the same gestures as on the iPad Pro 2018 and fully navigate the UI which is a real plus! 

ACCESSORIES

Now this section is something that has to be discussed, and I am really happy about this, and that is that the Mini 5 now has support for the Apple Pencil.

But this is a bit of a weird one because the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard have both been exclusive to the iPad Pro, as Apple’s been selling the Pro as a professional grade device. Now that they added both Apple Pencil and Smart-keyboard support to the iPad Air 3, and Apple Pencil support to the Mini, Apple is clearly moving away from the idea that only the iPad Pros should have the best features. 

I mean, it’s not the 2nd generation Apple Pencil that the iPad Pro comes with, it’s still the 1st gen one which connects very weirdly, but it is an a mazing thing to have. Unfortunately you do have to buy it separately and yes, it does feel weird using the pencil on such a small display, especially considering that the pencil itself is bigger than the entire length of the display. But it’s perfect for things such as taking notes, and drawing professional art if you so wished.

 

CONCLUSION

Ok so in the end, while personally I do use an iPad Pro every single day and don’t intend to switch to a Mini anytime soon, the Mini 5 is not only the best entry into the iOS ecosystem, but it is also the best small form factor tablet on the market by a wide margin.

There’s absolutely nothing that even comes close in terms of the performance, the massive app selection, the software support and the best mobile gaming experience on the market right now, especially if you connect a controller.

iPad Air 3 Review


This is the brand new iPad Air! It’s just called the iPad Air but essentially this is the 3rd generation iPad Air.

It has been almost 5 years since the iPad Air 2 was released so we should see a pretty big upgrade in every single way!

It stands in between the entry-level iPad which hasn’t been updated since 2018, which starts at $329, and the iPad Pro 2018 which starts at $800. The iPad Air starts at $500, more than half the price of the iPad Pro. But is it more than half as good?


HARDWARE

The entire iPad Air design is based of the iPad Pro 2nd gen design from 2017. This means that, when compared to the iPad Air 2, there is a noticeable design upgrade. We get a 10.5” display compared to 9.7”, and we also get significantly thinner bezels overall in a form factor that’s just a tiny bit larger. 

Design comparison between the Air 3 and the 2018 iPad Pro

Design comparison between the Air 3 and the 2018 iPad Pro

It’s not as good as the 2018 iPad Pro’s design, with those really thin bezels and no home button and FaceID, but it’s still not bad. It is still one of the best looking tablets on the market and it now comes in an even darker shade of space grey than before, which I really like. 

The display is surprisingly good. It’s almost as good as on the iPad Pro 2nd generation. We get the same DCI-P3 color gamut, so everything is incredibly vibrant, and a True-Tone display that automatically adjusts its color temperature based on the lighting conditions around it. In addition we also get the same 1.8% reflectivity, so watching videos on this looks incredible. The Air is also really easy to read outdoors as it goes up to 500 nits, the same as a MacBook Pro. It’s not as bright as the iPad Pro 2nd or 3rd gen that can go up to 600 nits, but it’s still more than enough. Overall though, I do feel that this is indeed one of the best displays on a tablet at the moment.

Now the Pro does have that Pro-Motion technology which makes everything twice as fluid, up to 120Hz fluid, but this is missing from the Air. It is a pretty big downgrade if you’re coming from a 2nd gen iPad Pro or newer, since only those have Pro-Motion, but if you’re not then this display is as fluid as any other Apple device out there. 

It’s speakers are also great. They’re not quad speakers like on the iPad Pros, but they still sound great nonetheless. 

The front camera has been upgraded so it’s the same 7MP one found in the iPad Pros, meaning your selfies and facetime calls would look better. The back camera isn’t that bad either. Unfortunately it’s not a 4K sensor like on the iPad Pros, but for 1080p 30fps videos, scanning documents and occasional shots it’s more than good enough. 

Also, I do love the fact that even though we do have a home-button on this iPad, which is the same clickable one as on the iPad Air 2 from 2014, you can still use the same gestures as on the iPad Pro 2018. Swiping up to go home and opening the multitasking makes you forget that this iPad even has a home button.

 

PERFORMANCE

When it comes to performance this thing is just incredible! Games run great on this. Fortnite for example runs in native resolution at 60fps and you can even pair a controller with this thing and turn it into a portable gaming console, thanks to its 3GB of RAM.

You can also edit full 4K video on this thing if you want to. It’s not as fast as exporting video as the iPad Pro is 2nd gen or 3rd gen, but let’s be honest, even the majority of people who get an iPad Pro, don’t use it for video editing anyways. The Air isn’t even considered by Apple to be a Pro device, yet it does offer even better CPU performance than the 2017 2nd generation iPad Pro. It’s got the Apple A12 processor inside of it, the same one found in the iPhone XS so it’s even more powerful than most PC laptops out there.

 

ACCESORIES

But definitely the biggest advantage of the iPad Air is support for both the Apple Smart-Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, which were previously exclusive to the iPad Pro. It is the same Smart-Keyboard as on the 2017 iPad Pro 2nd gen so it’s a decent keyboard, but there are better ones out there like the ones by Brydge.

To charge the 1st Gen Apple Pencil you have to insert it into the port on the bottom of the iPad

To charge the 1st Gen Apple Pencil you have to insert it into the port on the bottom of the iPad

Now the Apple Pencil we get with this is not the 2nd generation that we got with the 2018 iPad Pro. We actually get the 1st gen one that was released in 2016, which isn’t bad. However, it does charge quite weirdly and since the display refreshes at 60Hz vs 120Hz like on the Pro, it doesn’t feel as fluid as drawing on an iPad Pro. But for taking notes and even occasional drawing this is an amazing tool to have, so much better than the iPad Mini 5, since you have a much larger display. 

I just wish that the display had a bit more resistance to it since it honestly feels like drawing on a glass window.

CONCLUSION

So in the end the iPad Air is pretty good! It costs significantly less than an iPad Pro and it offers significantly more than the entry-level iPad!

However, my Pro tip would be to get the iPad Pro 2nd gen instead. You can actually find it really cheap now, even cheaper than the iPad Air. While the CPU performance is weaker than the iPad Air, the GPU is better so it’s faster at exporting videos, the camera is better on the Pro and you get a flash as well. You also get the Pro-Motion display so everything is twice as fluid, and the Apple Pencil is also a much better experience on the iPad Pro. It also offers quad speakers, so watching and listening to content is a much more enjoyable experience on the Pro.

Google Pixel Slate Review


Now I’m actually a really big fan of Google myself. I absolutely love what they are doing as a company. Pretty much all of their software products are entirely free to use, their Google Home products are definitely the best ones overall and although the Pixel’s had some issues, for the most part they’re brilliant!

But Google has recently released a tablet, well kind of. The Pixel Slate is Google’s new 2 in 1 and it’s not that great at all. Here’s why.


HARDWARE

The Pixel Slate comes with a 12.3” display, the same as on the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. It’s a 3000x2000 resolution LCD panel at 293PPI, so it’s actually sharper than an iPad Pro’s display. I would say that the display was better than that of the Surface Pro 6 as it’s brighter and the colors just pop. However, it’s not as color accurate as the iPad Pro’s display, nor does it have the 120Hz refresh rate. Overall though, it’s a great display.

The difference in bezels between the Slate (Left) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Right)

The difference in bezels between the Slate (Left) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Right)

Whilst it is a better design then the Surface Pro 6, having smaller bezels and thinner frame, the iPad Pro is even better with noticeably thinner bezels, and a much thinner, smaller form factor too.

I like the fact that there’s no camera bump and there is 0 branding aside from a slight ‘G’ logo in the top left corner. Speaking of cameras, the Pixel Slate comes

with two of them. The one on the back is an 8MP f/1.8 aperture and 1.12μm, that can record 1080p video at 30fps max and the one on the front is an 8MP f/1.9 aperture larger 1.4μm pixels. So yes, the front camera is better than the back one, but overall they’re both only ok.

The Pixel Slate also comes with dual front stereo speakers which are also ok, but they do crackle at high volume, which is something I would expect to see in a $100 tablet and not one that starts at $600. 

But something that I do really like about the Pixel Slate, is that it comes with 2 USB type C ports, one on each side, which means you can charge it whilst also connecting it to an external monitor for example.

 

SOFTWARE

So instead of the Pixel Slate running Android, it runs on ChromeOS. Now I personally prefer this over Android, because it’s a bit more capable and it also supports all the Android apps that your phone or Android tablets do, so it’s a win-win in my books. You can play your favourite games, you can download Photoshop and Lightroom CC, and any app that you use on your Android smartphone or tablet. Overall ChromeOS is more desktop-like than iOS is on the iPad, which does not support external HDD’s at all or extended monitors in extended mode.

However there are 3 very big issues with ChromeOS on this specific tablet.

The first is the app layout. So if you have an Android tablet you probably know how poorly Android is optimised for tablets. I found that most of the apps on the Slate would not scale properly and I ended up with a massive UI.

The second big issue is that even though ChromeOS is a more similar to a full desktop OS rather than a mobile one like iOS and Android are, there are still no high end professional apps. There is no Adobe Premiere, no Photoshop, no 3D modelling apps literally zero of the high-end tools that you would get on Windows or macOS. So while ChromeOS can do more than iOS on the iPad Pro can, most Android apps have a completely unoptimized layout and the only version of Photoshop that you can get is the mobile version.

And finally the third big issue in terms of ChromeOS on this tablet, is the performance.

You see, the Pixel Slate comes in a ton of configurations.

You can get; a Celeron CPU with 4 or 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core m3 variant with 8GB of RAM (which is the one that I have), an i5 with 8GB of ram and an i7 with 16GB of RAM.

The i5 and i7 are still m5’s and m7’s, it’s just Intel’s naming scheme which is very misleading, so these are still those low power Y series processors. 

Now performance wise, you would expect these to be really good but honestly, even the highest end Pixel Slate (the i7 model with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage) which costs a whopping £1,550 in the UK scores less than an iPhone X from 2017 in both Single-Core and Multi-Core!

Comparative Single and Multi-Core scores between the Pixel Slate and iPhone X

Comparative Single and Multi-Core scores between the Pixel Slate and iPhone X

So now you’re probably wondering if the top of the line £1,550 i7 model is so weak, how weak is the baseline £550 Celeron model?

Well we’re talking 1,941 for the Single-Core and 3,045 for the Multi-Core. 

Nope, that’s not a joke, this is for real! The Celeron Pixel Slate has a worse performance score than an iPhone 6S from 2015! It’s just a tiny bit more powerful than a 2014 iPhone 6, but weaker than a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Now, Google sent me the m3 model, not the Celeron. But I have to say even the m3 lags like crazy! The lag on this thing reminds me of my Samsung Galaxy S4 running touchwiz and a ton of bloatware, definitely not something you should be seeing on a stock Android tablet made by Google that costs £750.

On top of all of this it also has bugs, and a lot of them at that. The Pixel Slate is the glitchiest, buggiest device I’ve had in years! For example, I was stuck on the app drawer and the Slate would not go to the desktop, no matter what I did. The back button wasn’t doing anything and neither were the gestures. I had to restart the Pixel Slate in order to fix it and guess what? It started happening again shortly after!

So why hasn’t Google included a Qualcomm processor, like the Snapdragon 845 that we have in the Pixel 3 XL to get a significantly better performance. I don’t know, honestly I have no idea. If any Google engineers are reading this, I would love to hear why you didn’t go with ARM processors as you would’ve gotten significantly better performance on this.

There’s also a couple of other things that the Pixel Slate didn’t get right, like the fact that there’s no double tap to wake on this which is a must on such a large tablet. It also doesn’t have a home button, so the only button to unlock this is the power button which also acts as the fingerprint sensor, which is cool but this means that unlocking this thing is a pain!  

ACCESORIES

By now you can probably tell that I would not recommend the Pixel Slate to anyone. But are the accessories good enough to make me change that opinion? 

Well, kind of.

The keyboard itself is much better than what you get with the iPad Pro. The keys are actual physical keys that you can feel, and typing on this isn’t bad. Aside from this, it is backlit with brightness and volume controls which you don’t get on the iPad Pro’s keyboard.

It also has a trackpad which works great, but probably the best part about is it the magnetic back which gives the Pixel Slate unlimited adjustability so you can place this at any angle that you want. This makes it light years ahead of what Apple’s offering on the iPad Pro which is not backlit, has no volume or brightness controls, no trackpad, no actual physical keys and only two adjustable angles.

The Pixel Slate Keyboard does costs £190 compared to the £179 that the Apple one costs but I personally feel that that’s okay considering that the Slate Keyboard is so much better.

The comparison in design between the Pixel Slate Keyboard (Left) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Keyboard (Right)

The comparison in design between the Pixel Slate Keyboard (Left) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Keyboard (Right)

However, when you compare it to Microsoft’s Surface Pro keyboard, the one that only costs £100, it doesn’t hold up. The Surface Pro’s keys feel better, the trackpad is more sturdy, and you can raise it if you want, rather than just having it lay flat like the Pixel Slate one . 

There are also no magnets on the bottom of the Pixel Slate keyboard so it doesn’t even close properly. It just slides around which isn’t the best design.

But what about the Pixelbook Pen? Is this Pen better than the competition?

The 2nd gen Apple Pencil magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad and the Surface Pen does the same. The Pixelbook Pen however, does not do that. The Apple Pencil charges automatically when it’s connected to the side of the iPad. The Pixelbook Pen, as well as the Surface Pen, both require an actual battery which I’m not a fan of at all. And the Surface Pen has a eraser on the top, whereas the Apple Pencil and the Pixelbook Pen does not.

Surface Pen (Top), Pixelbook Pen (Middle), and Apple Pencil (Bottom)

Surface Pen (Top), Pixelbook Pen (Middle), and Apple Pencil (Bottom)

So you can probably tell that the Pixelbook Pen offers the least amount of features of the three. It’s quite chunky, it doesn’t attach to the Slate, it has no eraser, and no automatic charging, it’s worse than both and whilst it costs less than the Apple Pencil it is more than the Surface Pen.

 

CONCLUSION

So in summary, the top of the line Pixel Slate cost more than an iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 6 whilst also being the worst one out of the three! It’s glitchy, slow, and has such a messed up app layout system going on. Sorry Google, I usually like what you’re doing and if this was £200 I could maybe overlook the issues and recommend it. But considering how expensive this is and all the issues that is has I wouldn’t recommend you pick one up.

I am hoping that Google makes the 2nd gen Slate better by putting in a better processor, a Qualcomm one and optimises ChromeOS, fix all the glitches, improve the accessories and heavily drops the price.

If you need a 2 in 1 the best one out there is still the Surface Pro 6, and if you need a great tablet, the best one out there is still the iPad Pro.