My Take on the iPad Mini After 7 Weeks

I bought the original iPad, the iPad 2 (though I protested), and even the iPad 3. However, I eventually stopped using each of them. I could not find a compelling reason to carry it over my MacBook Air, other than to read books. For that function, I used a Kindle.

Michael Hyatt Holding His iPad Mini

My biggest complaint with the iPad was it was just too big and too heavy, especially for reading. I know, this would be a laughable complaint just a few short years ago. But compared to a book, it was uncomfortable.

However, with the announcement of the iPad Mini, I decided to give it another go.

The scratch that still itches for me is my workflow for taking notes in face-to-face meetings. Hauling out my laptop feels too intrusive. Writing in a Moleskine or EcoSystem notebook and then scanning the pages is too much work.

I chose the black, 64GB, Wi-Fi + cellular iPad Mini. It arrived at my home a day earlier than Apple promised, which was a nice surprise. The packaging (as usual) made for a great first impression.

There were three attributes that stood out immediately:

  1. The Size. The size just feels right—a little bit wider and a bit shorter than a Moleskine notebook. At 10.7 oz, it’s more than three ounces lighter than Platform, my most recent book. It’s less than half the weight of the my iPad 3.
  2. The Speed. The speed of the Mini is comparable to the iPad 2 and 3. It seems plenty zippy to me. Applications load quickly, and I have not experienced any lag, other than a slight delay when opening apps.
  3. The Screen. If you are used to the retina display of say, the iPhone 5, or the iPad 3, you will notice a difference. But if you are comfortable with the screen of a newer model MacBook Air (not retina), it is comparable. The colors are vivid and bright.

Overall, the machine is beautiful. I immediately took to it.

I have been consistently getting ten hours of battery life per charge—the same as my iPad 3. Unfortunately, Apple changed the power connector to the the Lightning model used with the iPhone 5. I already had several of the 30-pin connectors, which I couldn’t use.

However, I appreciated the fact that I had immediate access to more than 275,000 iPad apps. This ensured I had zero learning curve. All my favorite apps were available on the Mini.

In fact, when I signed into my iCloud account, all my apps were downloaded to the Mini. I soon felt right at home. In addition, whenever I download a new app, it is downloaded on my Mini and my iPad 3. This is a preference setting you can turn on or off.

Though I don’t use them regularly, the Mini also has two cameras. The front-facing FaceTime HD camera sports 1.2 MP photos, 720p HD video, face detection, and FaceTime calling over Wi-Fi. The back-facing iSight camera creates 5MP photos and has auto-focus, face-detection, and a 2.4 aperture.

So the big question was whether or not I would actually use the Mini.

This brings me back to where I started. I am now reading all my books on the Mini. I have ditched my Kindle and haven’t looked back. (I am, however, using the Kindle app on the Mini.)

I am also taking the Mini whenever I leave my office or home to run errands. I use it while standing in line, waiting at the doctor’s office, or sitting at a restaurant. Cellular Internet access makes this remarkably convenient and surprisingly fast.

Best of all, I am using the Mini in meetings to take hand-written notes. I am really impressed with how far the note-taking apps have come since I last evaluated them. I downloaded all the major ones and tested them.

I’ve settled (for now) on the Moleskine Journal app and the Bamboo stylus. With it, I can export my notes to Evernote and the text is even searchable, though that takes about 24 hours to be processed through Evernote’s servers.

Does Apple have room for improvement? Certainly.

I really wish they had included a retina display. This obviously wasn’t a technological challenge, since they are already using this display on smaller devices (the iPhone 5) and larger ones (the iPad 3 and 4). Undoubtedly, Apple choose to forgo retina to keep the price point down and make the Mini more competitive.

But other than that, I am pleased with my purchase. The Mini has become an important part of my workflow and made me more productive. This is what the iPad should have always been.

Question: What do you like or not like about the iPad Mini? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • jvoeltner

    I can see why someone who wants to use a tablet, primarily for reading books and viewing material would prefer the iPad MINI, although I have to disagree with the idea that the new Mini is what the iPad “should have always been”. As someone who develops (and plays) games for the iPad, as well as using it to take notes (using the in-screen keyboard, as opposed to a keyboard attachment)… I cannot imagine using a tablet that is smaller than the standard iPad size. For these purposes, I believe the standard tablet size is actually perfect. However, I do agree that it’s a bit heavy and cumbersome for book-reading usage. The screen glare is also an issue, when using the iPad outside or an a bright room. For reading and viewing material, I can see why the Mini is preferable.

  • Tony Chung

    I also downloaded the Moleskine notebook app. I  now have 5 different note taking apps, each with its own strength. I’m curious why you jumped from Noteshelf to Moleskine and not Penultimate, which Evernote now owns?

    Also, regarding the Retina™ display–just wait until “The New iPad Mini” LOL.

  • John Richardson

    I’m sure I’ll probably get one on the next upgrade cycle, which will probably add a retina display model. Love our current iPads. After test driving at the Apple store, the mini seems like the perfect size for reading, especially at night.

  • Chadkee

    You need to try the Jot pen by adonit. It puts all others to shame. It is the first to really feel like a writing pen. Then you need to try noteshelf. The key is finding an app that allows you to rest your palm on the glass. I use the zoom mode but they have a grat feature without zoom. It is way better than the pen you are using and will greatly increase your writing experience.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks very much for these suggestions, Chadkee.  Very helpful.  I am in the market for a new pen.

  • Tim Peters

    Thanks Michael.  I think I have bought every Apple product available to date and now I will be buying the iPad mini.  Apple Junkie I am. 

  • Lis

    My brother-in-law surprised me with one for Christmas, and I have to say I really love it.  I was reliant on my iPod Touch, but reading books on the mini (which is really what I wanted the Touch for, plus Bible apps etc.) is SO much better.

  • Lis

    Also, I never thought about taking notes on my iPad.  My mind is blown!  I love to write, but I also love having everything I need in “one” place.  Perfect!

  • Thad Puckett

    I think you probably bought it a little early.  I fully expect the iPad Mini to have Retina Display before the end of the year.

  • LisaP

    I actually bought an iPad mini this morning based on your review. I already have an iPad 2 and love it, but it’s a little to clunky to carry around in my bag every day and it doesn’t have cell service so I can’t use it everywhere I want to. What really got me, tho, was the mention of the Moleskine app and Bamboo pen — I write in a Moleskine notebook every day (and cart that around in my bag, too) and I wasn’t aware that the app & pen existed! So I bought the Bamboo pen today, too. Hope you’re getting some affiliate credit somewhere. I did click on your links. :) Thanks for the review! Miss your podcast, hope you’ve got a new one coming up soon.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words. I have a new podcast coming in the morning. Thanks!

  • Thomas

    Great review Michael. I received my iPad mini and while I loved the form factor, the non-retina screen was the killer for me. I returned mine within a week. I noticed the eye strain of reading that I had experienced on the first gen iPad, and since I read a lot (websites, .pdfs, ebooks) it just wasn’t worth it going back to that when I’m pretty confident a retina mini will be in our hands in 2013 making it my go-to device for both consumption and creation.

  • Jeff B

    Michael – since I’m sure you tried a few of these too, what case did you settle on for the Mini?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I use the BookBook from Twelve South.

  • Julie Sunne

    This review is perfect timing for me, Michael! I’m looking to purchase either a iPad mini or the Microsoft Surface this week. I appreciate your insight. This will be my first foray into the world of tablets.

  • Lukas Targosz


    Great review. When I read a Kindle, I highlight quite a lot and use the quotes from MyClippings file. Can you do this with Kindle app on iPad? I know you can highlight, but are the quotes saved anywhere to be loaded from? Thanks a lot.


    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, your highlights are saved in the cloud. Check this post.

  • Dallon Christensen

    Very fair and solid review. I have also integrated my iPad Mini into my workflow much more effectively than the first-gen iPad I have (which is now the tool my young boys are using to learn about computing, so it’s not totally useless!). 

    Do you ever have issues with your fingers or wrist making inadvertent marks on the Moleskine journal app when you write notes on the Mini? I tried using Penultimate (now an Evernote product) a few times with my original iPad, but I had too many times where I had these marks on my screen. I just tired of it. I was using a pretty basic Targus stylus I bought at Best Buy, so I’ll have to try the Bamboo stylus.

    I agree that the mini is the perfect size for portability. Taking my medium-sized Ecosystem notebook, my iPad Mini, and my MacBook Air when traveling is a really versatile and lightweight solution. I also agree that the LTE connection is definitely worth it on this machine.

  • Dave Bunch

    Thanks, Michael. I’ve been weighing whether to transition from my iPad 2 to the iPad mini, and I found this post very helpful in my information gathering process. Also, thank you for your podcast episode on the leader’s heart. Very insightful and inspiring.

  • ThatGuyKC

    Great review, Michael! I admit that I was a little disappointed not to see your usual unboxing video. :)

    I’m a big fan of the iPad mini for the same reasons. It’s light, fast and portable. I find that I use it a lot more than I ever used the iPad 2 (which I sold to purchase the iPad mini).

    I’m a little curious what influenced your decision to go with the Moleskine Journal app over other options?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I downloaded and played with about ten different notebook apps. Moleskine had the right balance of the tools I need. I also liked the Evernote export option. I’m sure a decision is highly subjective. Thanks.

      • ThatGuyKC

        Thank you for taking the time to respond. I’ve tried a number of note-taking apps as well and currently use Noteshelf. Might give Moleskine a test drive though. Happy Friday!

  • Charles Sefcik

    Great review of the iPad mini.  I have not used the mini, but do use an iPad for personal use and in my clinic.  You mentioned the Moleskine app and I have been a long time user of the Moleskine notebooks.  I was wondering if you have compared the Moleskine app to the Notability app and if you had any thoughts or opinions.  Great post, great site, great podcasts … appreciate all the beneficial information you consistently put out!

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  • Craig Jarrow

    I love my iPad Mini. It has become my goto device. Even sold my iPad 3. 

    Love that it is the size of a Moleskine. It goes with me everywhere. :)

  • Ristlin

    You say “for now” regarding the stylus and note program. Have you shopped around and tried others? How do they compare? 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I tried the top five. It’s largely a matter of personal taste, but Bamboo is the one I like best now.

  • Sam Jolman

    Totally agree with your thoughts on it being an amazing e-reader. It’s tripled my reading frequency (it’s my first e-reader).

    Do you have a case for it that you’d recommend?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I really like the BookBook from Twelve South. That’s the one I am using.

  • papermovement

    Thanks for the review. I’m being torn between getting a tablet vs an eink reader.

  • Nancy

    I have read all the great reviews on the iMini…but do you have any thoughts about the NEW Kindle Fire HD 4G.  It sounds like it has a few more things than the Mini and I am not sure what to go with.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, Nancy. I haven’t tried that one. Thanks.

      • David A Specht

        My Mom, who owns a Macbook Pro, bought a Kindle Fire right after Christmas. It was so slow she sent it back and ordered a iPad Mini. She got it a few days ago and loves it. Not sure if she got the model you are referring too though.

  • Viktor

    I love using my Ipad mini. I found it as a great tool which I missed since I went paperless. I am still learning when(circumstences) to use which device (MB air, Ipad mini, iphone) . Also syncing and updating all my apps take more time then I would like to give it to. Also trying to find a time saving easy way to charge all three.How do you that?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m not sure I have anything to offer here. It does take time.

  • Michael Hyatt

    I didn’t think about that. You might be right.

  • Ernest Dempsey

    Thanks for this review, Michael.  You touched on some additional thoughts I hadn’t considered when I tried out a friend’s mini.  I was so concerned with whether or not the keyboard would be easier to use that I didn’t think about some of the other things.  
    I appreciate it.  

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  • Johan M


    Thanks for this useful review. 

    I use an iPad3 for preaching /speaking notes. Wondering if I would have problems using an iPad mini. I would appreciate your input on this.


    • Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, I have never used an iPad like this, so I don’t have an opinion. Sorry.

      • Dave Bunch

        Johan, I use my iPad for preaching/speaking as well, and this is also my primary concern in transitioning to the mini. I will share that I have a good friend who speaks to large audiences all over the US and I watched him speak to about 600 students from his iPad mini. I asked him about it and he said that it works great. He stated that he uses a 20 font so I’m not quite sure if he meant that he types his notes in 20 font and then puts them on the iPad mini, or if there is a setting to increase the font on the iPad mini. Either way, it didn’t seem to be a problem for him.

        • Johan M

          Dave, thank you so much for sharing this.

          Actually, today I went to a store to feel a mini in my hands and had the sensation that using it in landscape would be ok for preaching/speaking.

          Now my doubts are regarding the retina display and how the screen size would affect the usage of Paper and Adobe ideas apps.

          • Michael Hyatt

            One thing to consider … you have up to 30 days to return any Apple device you buy. You could give it a whirl and make sure it works for you.

          • Johan M

            Thanks Michael. Will check if it applies at Apple resellers in Costa Rica.

      • Johan M

        It’s ok. Thank you!

  • Logan Young

    Is there any specific case that anyone has found as the best?

  • David Christian

    I use the iPad 2 and love it. My wife wanted an iPad so I got her the 4 for Christmas. It has about 2 hours use because she says it is too big and heavy. Now she wants the mini. My dilemma is do I sell my 2 and take her 4 or sell her 4 and keep my 2 (which she bought for my birthday 2 years ago. I could then put that cash towards a mini for her…

  • Drew Tewell

    I want to get a MacBook Air soon and after I get that, I may eventually ditch my iPad 2 and get the Mini. I like how light and portable it is compared to my iPad 2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Michael!

  • Apple-fan all the way

    I love my iPad mini.. I own an iPhone, iPod and Macbook pro…the only thing is this…I just bought my iPad mini last friday 1/4/13…my bamboo stylus arrived yesterday  1/10/13  so I didn’t have the iPad for a week…the stylus’ performance is inconsistant…My son has the iPad 2 and his works beautifully…what do I do?  I do have a screen protector on it (that I paid to have put on)….It is not logical to me that it doesn’t work….if there is someone out there to advise, I am gratefully appreciative, in advance.. 

  • brentmkelly

    Michael, thanks for the solid review.  I have an IPad 2 and basic Kindle.  I have been interested in getting the Kindle Paperwhite since I love to read in bed and not disrupt my wife.  You know have me thinking that a mini may be a better option.  Obviously, there is about a $200 price difference, but you get so much more.  Looks like more research on this one for me:)  

  • Erick Rheam

    Hi Michael, what are some of your favorite and most use apps on your mini?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m actually planning to do a post on this. Stay tuned.

  • Nick Coward

    You should have bought a Motion J3500 instead of the Apple products as it can do everything and iPad can do and more

  • Darlene

    Hi Michael,
    Just got my new mini iPad this week and I’m loving it! One of the reasons I hesitated on getting the regular iPad was the size. I was delighted when they came out with this one! Still exploring it but so far I’m glad I bought it.

    I’m heading to the Writing for the Soul conference in Colorado Springs in February so I plan on taking it with me. It has great options on it.

    Very cool!

    Darlene L. Turner

  • Otis Woodard

    Michael, thanks so much for this. I’ve just bought a Kindle Fire and like the fact I can make highlights and then download them. I think I remember you saying you are a big highlighter and have posted about how to do that. Does the iPad Mini with the Kindle app allow you to do this? If so, I think I’ll ditch my Kindle, too, as I have been waiting for a good solution for notetaking with clients when a notebook is too intrusive.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yep, it does everything you can do with the physical Kindle hardware.

  • Fiona C

    My only problem with the iPad Mini is that I don’t have one. This wasn’t a problem until I read your review. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Ha! Sorry about that.

  • Bethany

    Thank you for the great review.  I have been contemplating purchasing the mini after having the regular sized iPad.  Your review was the tipping point — I purchased the mini this past week and I have fallen in love with it.  In fact, I love it more than the regular sized iPad. 

    As you note, the size is awesome for portability.  It goes everywhere with me.  I love the Kindle app on the mini much better than the Kindle app on the iPhone.  Like you, I have begun reading my books on the mini instead of my new Kindle touch. 

    Thank you again for the great review!  This post is another example of why I continue to return eagerly to your blog – immediately useful information in a myriad of areas including personal development, professional development, technology, leadership, fitness, etc. 

  • Poplar Hill Realty

    Like you, Michael, I’ve been trying to establish a workflow that utilizes the power of the iPad, especially when it comes to taking notes. But paper notebooks (Piccadilly is my favorite) always seem to be better. Coincidentally, within an hour of reading your blog I was in BestBuy and bought the new release of the Bamboo pen and tested it on several different note-taking apps. After nearly giving up on finding one that was as easy to write on as paper, I stumbled on NoteTake HD. The combination of the Bamboo stylus and the app’s use of the zoom window make note taking fabulous. Now, along with Evernote, everything truly is in one place, yet searchable from anywhere and any device. Life is good.

    Thanks for your great posts, particularly about building a platform. You have wisely identified a need before a majority of people identify they’ll need it. You’re in for a great ride.

  • David M. Brown

    You state that installing a retina display on the iPad mini would obviously not have been a technological challenge. The question is what the tradeoffs would have been, given the larger battery that would have been required. Minimizing those tradeoffs is certainly a technological challenge. I’m sure that with current-day materials and technologies, Apple could have created an iPad Mini (Fatty?) with a retina display but heavier battery.

  • Michael Guthrie

    Thanks for the review Michael… I’m loving the mini and have barely put it down since getting it.
    I’ve tried the Moleskin app myself and although it does have some nice features I’ve found the Penultimate app to be much more wrist friendly. The app will also allow you to send to Evernote and Dropbox.

  • Tony Whitmarsh

    Thank you Michael – I think your assessment of the mini is spot on. I recently got one for fast/convenient web browsing and email, as an ebook reader (like you I have ditched my kindle but use the excellent kindle app) but also as a backup / review for photos when on holiday. Your review highlighted the exciting prospect of note taking in meetings. My main requirement would be to convert my handwritten scrawl into digital text, which is not quite what you are doing I don’t think. (As I understand it Moleskin doesn’t offer handwriting recognition but exports as an image. Evernote likewise does not convert but offers a search.) My initial analysis of apps has revealed three – Myscript mobile notes, 7notes and notesplus but they all use the myscript technology and i wondered if anyone has had success with recognition / conversion using one or more of these apps, or similar.

  • Danielbolton

    After your review I ordered one today – Thanks Michael! Have you been to New Zealand? Maybe you should think about it :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have not been to New Zealand. It is on my “bucket list.” I would love to come.

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  • Nancy Ingram

    this challenging and yet somewhat off the chain

  • Matt Kerr

    I’ve only taken a spin on the mini at the local store but it’s a nice fit in the hand.  I’m still driving an original iPad so obviously the speed is a boost.  I agree on the retina display.  It would have been a nice inclusion and will likely be a feature added in the next version.  Apple doesn’t like it’s product lines stepping on each others toes too much.   If I was in the market (ie if I had the free cash right now) for a new tablet device, this would be at the top of my list.

  • DavidThomsan

    iPad is the best friend I’ve ever got just Hold it in your hand and you are hooked by its size, feather weight and sheer quality. Apple was late with the iPad mini but in my view they really have hit the spot.
    Android Laptop Dock

  • Louise

    This was a great review! I was considering getting an iPad mini for school and I eventually hope to integrate it into my classroom. The moleskin journal app was exactly what I was looking for! It’s beautiful. Thank you!

  • M4ENY

    I own ipad 3 and eventhough I absolutely love the size (form factor) and the weight of the ipad mini, I can’t justify myself of getting one due to two Major Flaws.
    First one is ipad mini uses the A5 soc that Ipad2 had two years ago.
    Second, it lacks the retina display.
    Apple had absolutely no reason not to put A6 in the ipad mini. How would you defend that ? other than the fact that Apple simply wants to make more profit and wants to save the SOC upgrade for the Ipad mini 2 (again for more profits).
    The lack of retina display also seems like Apple’s way of milking for more cash using ipad mini 2.
    Sure one can say that retina display will make the device little heavier and thicker but it won’t be as heavy as ipad 3 and even ipad 2.

    • M4ENY

       I don’t mean to hate on the ipad mini but I am just trying to get my points across. Also, ipad mini already costs 329 dollars in Canada whereas its closest competitor Nexus 7 is 209 dollars. The 120 dollar premium should be more than enough to make up for the cost of adding retina display to the device. <- since one of your last points was saying that ipad mini didn't have retina display due to cost

      • Michael Hyatt

        I would get whatever works for you.