Steve Jobs was famously dismissive of smaller tablets. The Apple founder dubbed such devices ‘tweeners’ and claimed that any tablet with a 7–inch screen was ‘too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad’.
Yet a year after his death, Apple’s 7.9–inch iPad mini arrived to huge fanfare and critical acclaim.
But four years on from its launch, is Jobs’ brutal assessment proving to be true?
Apple is said to be working on a new iPad Pro, this time with a 10.5–inch screen. Conversely, there’s no word on when a new iPad mini might arrive.
And with sales declining, could Apple be about to seal the device’s fate with one of its own new products?
The iPhone 7 Plus looks set to be every bit as good as the iPad mini. Here’s why we reckon it spells the end of the compact Apple slate.
1 Full phone experience
The iPhone 7 Plus has one major advantage over the iPad mini. It’s a phone.
That may be stating the obvious, but for a product that doesn’t feel much smaller in the hand, it’s got a lot more going for it.
The fact you can do basic mobile tasks on it, from sending texts to making calls, immediately makes it a no-brainer for those debating whether to get a new phone or tablet.
2 It's pocketable
The 5.5–inch iPhone 7 Plus is set to be the same size as the current iPhone 6s Plus. That means you can slip into a jeans pocket or small bag without any hassle.
The same can’t truly be said of the iPad mini, even though it’s a lot less intrusive than its larger stablemates.
Being able to pocket it means you’re less likely to lose it and means it’s always on hand too.
3 Better camera
Holding up an iPad to take a picture will never not be embarrassing. Leaving aside the device’s size, the camera on the iPad mini is just not up to the job.
At eight megapixels it’s perfectly passable in good light. But as soon as you step inside or the sky goes dark, your shots will be average at best, grainy at worst.
The iPhone 7 Plus is due to feature a dual-lens camera, designed to offer better performance in low light, as well as the opportunity to refocus images after you’ve taken them.
That makes it an essential purchase for camera nerds.
4 The screen is stellar
The 5.5–inch screen on the new iPhone 7 Plus isn’t due to be any brighter than the current iPhone 6s Plus.
But it’s size is more than ample for reading books and handling productivity apps such as Evernote.
Seeing as this was supposed to be the iPad mini’s big draw, it’s no surprise that sales of that device have struggled since Apple first released a phablet two years ago.
The iPhone 7 Plus should spell the end for it.
5 More space
The iPad mini’s 16GB, 64GB and 128GB versions are ample for most.
But word is that Apple will offer 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models of its new iPhone 7 Plus and will kill off the entry-level 16GB option. That makes it far more appealing to power users.
Throw in all of the other features we're outlined above and it’s hard to see why anyone would choose the pared-back tablet now.
It seems that Steve Jobs was right after all.