The iPad mini is a good example. I have mixed emotions about Apple’s latest iPad iteration. Love and hate. There’s much to like and love, of course. The iPad mini is the perfect size and weight with a low price tag.
So, what’s wrong?
Why Does Apple Infuriate Me So?
Apple products, for the most part, are a delight to use. Whether Mac, iPhone, or iPad, a few hundred million Apple customers can’t be all wrong.
What do we like most? Feel. Usability. Attention to detail. Value. What do we like least?
Apple sometimes seems cheap when it comes to components or bullet point matching with competitors.
The new iPad mini is a perfect example of Apple’s renowned attention to detail in look and feel and usability (and value at $329), and not moving the bar forward with components.
No handheld device feels better than an iPhone 5, and yet the iPad mini feels almost as good in the hand. It’s light yet firm and durable. It’s solid but friendly (you already know how to use it).
So, why does Apple create what amounts to a perfect device in look and feel, and fill it up with substandard components?
Well, yes. The iPad mini’s screen is the same resolution as the original iPad and iPad 2 (slightly smaller in size; 7.9-inches vs. 9.7 inches) so all iPad apps view the same as on other iPad models.
But the screen’s pixel density provides for a less than stellar experience compared to the iPad 3 and iPad 4 (both of which have four times the resolution in the Retina display).
That means the iPad’s screen is not as sharp as competing devices, including Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. Better feel, more usability, lower quality screen.
Another thing you’ll notice about the iPad mini is how much slower apps open and perform relative to the iPad 4 which has a much faster CPU and more RAM. Why? The CPU is already aged by modern technology standards.
Apple is so confident that the overall package in a product is so good that the total is greater than the sum of the parts and can overcome the shortcomings in product components.
That’s why Apple worries less about matching competitor’s product feature bullet points. The company knows it can get away with less, thereby keeping the revenue and profits rolling in.
Can you get a Nexus tablet or a Kindle fire tablet for less than an iPad mini? Sure. Much less. Apple over charges for flash storage, too. As with other Apple products, the iPad mini wins on usability, which is also tied in to the ecosystem of apps and accessories.
So, the love hate relationship continues. I look forward to the day when Apple simply blows away the competition by topping every competitor’s feature list with better components at the same price.