I ended up making the purchase about a month ago and immediately took it home and unwrapped it. The smooth metal finish felt so good in my hands. It was so cold and the screen was staring at me, waiting for me to just turn it on and begin playing.
As I do with most electronics, I began by checking for the latest firmware and the latest version that was compatible with a jailbreak. Fortunately for me, the newest version, 6.1.2 was hackable! I jailbroke it within minutes and unleashed its full potential.
For starters, I began by allowing iOS to have what every iOS device owner secretly wishes from their Android counterparts, a live wallpaper. Thanks to the guys at Cydia for hosting and the creators of this app, I have one.
You'll have to believe me but this is a live wallpaper. It's actually more impressive and sophisticated than that of Android's in that it responds to your finger presses. Without a finger press, the circles move slowly, when a finger press is present, the circles go every which way.
I had to test out the gaming potentials of this tablet too. So I went and bought the newest Modern Combat 4. You guys might remember me doing a little piece a few months ago on Modern Combat 3, which I absolutely loved for my Samsung Galaxy S III. This game has gained just as much enthusiasm from me. Here are some of the screenshots from the game.
It looks pretty impressive and plays well. My biggest beef with the game has to be with the iPad more than the game. If I had a smaller unit like an iPhone, the experience might be more enjoyable but the controls are hard to use just because of the larger screen. The game is still enjoyable, nonetheless.
When it comes to actually listening to music, I actually don't use the default app as I probably should. However, I do use it. I have uploaded 333 songs to it as I only have a 16GB model and mine doesn't have 3G/4G so I can't use the iCloud wherever I go.
Instead, I use my standard Google Music. Here's a screenshot of it below.
My disappointment with this has to do with the fact that Google has not (as far as I can tell) made an official app for iOS devices like there is for Android devices. This probably has to do with Google and Apple's ongoing war and Google not wanting to give everything to iOS devices forcing us to choose if we want to keep our Google apps and move to Android or stay with iOS and not have our favorite Google apps.
This version that I am using is played through the internet browser. Which brings me to my next point...
When it comes to browsers, I use Google Chrome. And now that I think about it, I not only use it on my iPad (there is an official Google Chrome app for iOS devices), but also my Android phone and my computer which I am typing this on right now. It works beautifully. I also have Safari installed on my computer as well as Internet Explorer and Firefox but use Chrome most of all. My phone has the stock browser and Dolphin, but I prefer Chrome. I also have Puffin installed on my iPad but I only use that for flash videos which it does play flash videos, but it's not as enjoyable of an experience for me as Chrome is.
Thanks to those guys in the jailbreak community, I was able to download a few jailbreak only apps. No thanks to Apple for making the iOS system so closed off though.
With this particular jailbreak app, Browser Changer, it allows iOS to set a different browser as its default web browser to open links rather than always using Safari. As I said, I prefer Chrome. I could choose between Safari, Chrome, Puffin, or any other available browser. I chose Chrome, of course. And it works! The screenshot above comes from iOS' Settings "app". All of those other apps beneath Facebook and above Air Display are solely ones used on jailbroken iOS devices.
I wrote a post on Hulu Plus a few days ago, and since then I have been watching Hulu videos with my iPad. I watched an episode or two of The Following on my laptop but I prefer the iPad experience most of all for some reason. Below are screenshots from the Hulu Plus app.
The picture is beautiful, big enough for me to see clearly, and the experience is grand overall. My disappoints with Hulu are explained in the other blog posts, but as for the app and how iOS handles it, it is great.
I mentioned earlier that my particular model is WiFi only with no data. What's interesting is that you'd expect it to not have GPS features. Not true at all.
When it comes to other map services, I was disappointed. Google Earth is available as is the infamous Apple Maps service but Google Maps is not available officially for iPads. Take note that I say "officially".
I'm not sure about regular iPads, but my iPad Mini is able to download apps that are made for iPads as well as iPhone apps. There is a downside and this has to do with size and pixels.
Both screenshots above are taken from the Google Maps app. This is the iPhone version as there is no official iPad app yet. So it seems like Apple implemented an iPhone emulator into the iPad Mini to use iPhone only apps. Below are screenshots showing why I think this is an emulator.
In all four of the screenshots above, you will see two pictures of smaller sizes and two of larger sizes. The smaller ones are as they would appear as if they were on an iPhone screen as they are about the same size as an iPhone 4's screen size while the larger pictures are the app zoomed in. You can clearly see the difference with ugly pixel lines. The top two pictures use the iPhone keyboard while the iPad keyboard is much different.
You can see in the above screenshots the iPad style of a keyboard.
While on the topic, I love the way this iPad feels when holding it. On pretty much every iPad, you can separate the keyboard for easier use with two hands like it was a bigger phone and is able to use your thumbs, but this iPad Mini can fit just as well for me without separating the keyboard. In fact, I prefer it not separated. But I love the feature and I know some people need to have the keys separated to type.
I've seen other keyboards on Cydia for jailbroken devices but I have yet to try any of them. I tried getting a Swype-like keyboard but it doesn't seem to work for my iPad Mini.
One of the most valuable features for advanced users has to be a file browser which I have called iFile.
Overall...I love the experience. In fact, I am thinking of switching from my Samsung Galaxy S III and all Android devices to using an iPhone instead. When I first got my iPad Mini, I thought it was great to have an Android device and an iOS device but now I think I really want an iPhone more. There are some things that Android has that iOS doesn't have but most of the things seem to be here via the jailbreak community.
What really changed my mind was last week driving and having my phone on the charger but it dropping from 70% to 66% battery percentage while it was on the charger. I was using the Google Navigation while it was on but that should never happen. That made me lose a whole lot of respect for Android devices because they are notorious for loss of battery power whereas friends with iPhones brag about their longer lasting battery and better stability even though being jailbroken. What I ultimately don't like about iPhones is that there is no insurance if lost or stolen (however there is "Find My iPhone" which can find it as long as its on as well as lock the device) and there is no external memory. For the most part, if I need more memory on my Android phone, I just buy a new card. If I want that for an iPhone, I need to buy a brand new phone.
From the standpoint of this blog, it's best to have a mixture but with Android, I have to update my device continuously because only the Nexus devices seem to get infinite updates from Google while pretty much all iOS devices get the newest updates. The accessories are always guaranteed to be compatible but with Android it's a hit and miss.
I'm not sure but I feel like I'd like to change especially after having this beautiful experience. But Apple has to remember that if there was no jailbreak, I'd be with Android all the way.
Would I recommend anyone to get an iPad Mini? Absolutely...however, only if you feel like you'd use it. I use mine constantly. Actually, last night was the first time I pulled out my laptop in over a week. I have been using my iPad most of the time for everything I need. Which is odd because the iPad is NOT a suitable replacement for a computer. It can take the place of some of the stuff your laptop does, but not everything. You will need a computer to get music from places other than iTunes or videos or properly write and do many other things like proper gaming. But the iPad is a powerful device that surprised me. I am very happy with my purchase and it has been over a month of having it.