There are a lot of advantages to the iPad mini’s small size and low weight. One of the less obvious advantage is something I’ve discovered lately, and that’s the mini’s ability to use a lot of phone accessories.
There are a lot of universal accessories out there, but generally speaking there are two separate categories: Phone accessories and tablet accessories. This split can be seen in a lot of different product groups; Chargers for tablets are twice the amperage of those for phones, stands are larger, mounts more heavy duty. You can normally use phones with tablet accessories, but the other way around? Not so much.
Enter the iPad mini. At 308 grams, it cuts a good 30-40 grams off the lightest 7-inch tablets, and weighs in at less than half of the iPad 3 and 4. It’s still heavy compared to even the largest smartphones, with phones like the original Galaxy Note still only getting up to 180 grams, but it’s actually closer to the Note in weight than it is to some 7-inch poorly made Android tablets. That makes a lot of difference when it comes to accessories.
I’ve tried it with a handful of different suction cup-based phone accessories since I got it, and I’ve been very surprised at how well accessories made for phones work with the mini. The windshield mounts I mentioned in my last DIY article work great, the iZuck is quite handy with the mini, and even the cheap plastic ball-jointed…thingy I bough from DealExtreme a few months back has its uses on the mini (see image below). It makes it a low easier to find accessories, especially if you’re someone who likes making accessories. I already have some ideas for accessories I can make that would never have been possible to do on the full size iPad.
The iPad mini also works better with phone chargers than most tablets. Be it due to stupidity or portability, Apple decided to ship a 5W/1A charger with the mini, whereas the full size iPads (and most Android tablets) come with 10-12W chargers. Personally, I don’t have any complaints about the mini’s charging speed, so I’d rather have the smaller size. You generally don’t find 2A chargers that are as small as 1A chargers, be it AC chargers, car chargers, or portable batteries, so I think it’s av advantage to have a device made to charge from slower chargers. With the iPad 3/4 battery itself being 2.5 times larger than that of the iPad mini, the latter charges faster even with a charger that’s slower.
Still, you can only get so far with universal accessories. I’ve looked at a few universal stands- both for tablets and for phones- but I’m still holding out for an actual charging dock. The market is in a weird sort of purgatory right now, where you cannot just go out and buy docks for the newest Apple devices. It’s something we’ve not seen since the 30 pin connector came out, as there has always been some sort of overlap between generations, even if physical dimensions and minor specs have changed. Sure, there’s that adapter, but it essentially ruins the physical fit to every dock out there.