In what’s been a wild day, Apple proved they are still capable of surprises, releasing the retina iPad mini last night. Initially available for purchase online only, the option for personal pickup started to become a reality sometime around mid-day, forcing many into a scramble in the mad dash to acquire a launch day retina iPad mini. I was caught up in that dash, traveling to the 5th Avenue store in NYC to pick-up a 16GB iPad mini.

retina ipad mini unboxing

As you’ll see in the unboxing video, my first impressions were that it is very much like the first generation iPad mini. It’s thin, light and can easily be held with one hand. Comparing directly to the first generation iPad mini, the addition of retina adds an ever so slight amount of weight. It weighs 331 grams (.73 pound) vs 308 grams (.68 pound). While the iPad Air was a noticeable drop from either the iPad 3/4 and even iPad 2, it still had a bit of heft compared to the iPad mini. It has a bigger footprint, which impacts the overall feel.

When the iPad went retina with the third generation, the size was noticeable, a compromise in exchange for a beautiful display. There are no such compromises with the retina iPad mini. The weight and slight increase in depth (.29 inches vs .28 inches) are negligible. You have to look for the differences to spot them. Unless you’re carrying multiple minis, it’s not an issue. In the image below, I’ve attempted to highlight the difference. The iPad mini with retina is on the left. Notice how the bezel sits every so slightly above the first generation.

iPad mini vs retina

Coming from an iPad mini, the retina display is a breath of fresh air. The 326 pixels per inch deliver crisp type that is immediately apparent across many apps. With an A7 processor, this should be a fast machine, but it’s too early to tell. I thought the iPad Air felt fast from the get. I’m not sure I get that feeling from the iPad mini, again it’s early.

Retina vs non-retina

The iPad Air had room to move on a number of fronts and the results were impressive. The iPad mini has a strong contingent of users who loved the form factor and I don’t believe the minuscule changes to the size will have any impact on that admiration.

iPad mini retina bottom

In the coming weeks, you expect a full review. If you have any specific questions be sure to hit up our iPad forums. Did you pick up a retina iPad mini today? Be sure to share your first impressions in the comments below.

This guy looks crazy