The bad: Switch between home screens and photos are not very smooth. Camera has very low real resolution and contrast.
Bottom line: A plain tablet in performance, but with features to catch eyes.
A good stuff may be good in many ways, only a few of which are learnt by hearts though. When the second generation of iPad Mini is mentioned, what’s the first thing coming to your mind? A7-plus-M7 CPU collocation? Double antenna? HD facetime camera? Double microphone? Perhaps we were fond of talking about each of these shortly after the 7.9-inch tablet was released. But two or three months later, for most people, all they remember is an iPad mini with Retina display, just as its official name suggests.
So iFive, the Chinese tablet PC manufacturer, was smart to also imitate the 2,048-by-1,536 screen resolution when it imitated iPad mini 2. An iPad mini clone with Retina display sounds closer to the original product and with some sense of high tech.
But I’m a sober man who, thus, is not to expect some excellent stuff out of 198 US dollars. A cheap 4-core CPU plus equally cheap 4-core GPU process 3.14 million pixels during every switch of picture at a speed beyond the distinguishing of your eyes? Bite me!
All I hope to see is only something normal instead of a crap. So I’m starting my check step by step.
I love the look of iPad Mini 2, so I’m not going to complain on that of its clone. By comparison with the iPad, iFive mini 3 has the same shape, same space grey rear side with matte finish, same shining silver-coated trim, same position of front and back cameras, and same proportion of display to bezel.
Some minor differences are of course needed to escape legal accusations. iFive’s speaker mouth was a far smaller one located near the bottom; the power button, TF slot, USB port, 3.5mm headphone Jack and microphone are in a queue on the top edge; and you don’t find any other physical button throughout the tablet. Reasonably, the iFive is a little bit thicker than iPad mini to contain a 5,200mAh Battery.
I don’t find any flaw in craftsmanship from the one iFive mini 3 I held in hand. In fact, this is the best crafted among all the Chinese phones or tablets I tested these days. After all, appearance is the prior selling point of the iFive tablet.
iFive itself boasted of the Mini 3 as the world’s second 7.9-inch Retina tablet. According to the GFX benchmark, the display does have a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels and the 324PPI density indeed has reached the standard of Retina.
Retina means you don’t distinguish pixel from pixels even though you strain your eyes. This definition is exactly how I feel about the display of iFive mini 3. As a matter of fact, this screen shows perfectly crisp details and vibrant colors.
Here I took a photo with iFive mini 3 and iPad mini 2 compared via the same picture of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels. You can see iFive is worthy opponent.
This was the first time I used a benchmark app to get a score before I play games for real experience，because i was so curious how much the mini 3 would notch by such a top-heavy hardware configuration.
As anticipated, GFX Bench 3.0 gives horrible low scores for the tablet’s graphics processing ability. It says the mini 3 is able to deal with only a few frames in one second at its native resolution. Fortunately, we do not often play 2,048-by-1,536 videos or games, so the device has not been slaughtered.
By real experience, i frequently encountered after images in the switch of home screens, though it is not that intolerable. And when i opened a picture in Gallery, i can saw the progress from blurry to clear in a bout 1/2 second.
However, the device has no problem playing 1080p videos. I tried the live ballet Swan Lake Part I by the Royal Opera House in 2012 in MKV format with a code rate of 14,367Kbps and frame rate of 25fps (34 minutes, 4.3GB). You can see from the video review that there was no delay or hiccup.
I could say this tablet is not for demanding games even if it was not with the burdening quad HD display, since Rockchip has not produced a CPU targeted at high-end gamers. So i should not say it is the iFive’s drawback incapable of supporting thrilling speed in NFS, Most Wanted.
4. Operating System
iFive mini 3 runs on the pure Android 4.2.2 system with Google Play Store enabling you to download any apps you want. What’s new to the capacitive buttons array include the full screen icon for you to hidden these buttons when playing games or make them appear when you need them. That’s why the Mini is able to keep only one physical button.
Another virtual button added is for shortcut screenshot, which liberate us from the burden of installing such apps. And the most user-friendly add-on may have been the Emoji icons in the input keyboardd. Finally, we can freely express our emotions during messaging or emailing as we do with IM apps.
Sometimes high face-value resolution leads to high-definition photos, sometimes not. Unluckily, iFive mini 3 belongs to the latter condition for its blurry pictures and dull colors.
6. Battery Life
I believe the battery life is very close to the officially assumed 5200mAh, because without long-time gaming, it decently last me for a day. You may feel weird that in my reviews i always say something can last a day. But have you ever used an android stuff which can insist 2 days?
It’s natural that a cheap product has some drawbacks, but it’ll be sad if it has nothing special to boast about. iFive is clearly aimed at some people, who, i think, don’t want to spend too much on mobile devices, pursue visual delight, but don’t care too much about operational smoothness.