Hands-on with the BlackBerry PlayBook and the iPad mini tablets

Hands-on with the BlackBerry PlayBook and the iPad mini
By Bla1ze on 6 Nov 2012 08:15 pm EST

Apple's iPad mini is now available to the masses and in the interest of science, I picked one up to put it through its paces.

After a few hours of testing it out, I bring you my thoughts on the device in no particular order...

  • It's incredibly light. Almost too light, if that's possible. I toss my PlayBook around a lot and the iPad mini feels as though I may break it if treated it the same. I'm sure that's not the case but it sure as heck feels that way.
  • Those bezels. I get why Apple opted to go with the smaller bezels and they do look great but overall, I would have preferred something a little thicker on the sides to hang onto. Landscape is fine, portrait simply annoys me. May change over time with use but that's how it is right now. It's a nitpick for me but maybe a fine point for others.
  • Much like the iPhone 5, the iPad mini has that slick backing on it. It's not ugly by any means and it certainly fits in with the rest of the device but it feels like at any moment the mini can just fly out of my hands, much prefer the grip on the BlackBerry PlayBook or even the Nexus 7 for that matter.
  • The PlayBook uses a 1024x600 panel with 169 ppi while the iPad mini uses a 1024x768 panel bringing in 163 ppi. Overall, kind of a toss up for me when looking at the screens. Some stuff looks better on the iPad and some stuff looks better on the PlayBook. Text, in my opinion, looks better on the PlayBook. All in the eyes of the beholder though, I suppose.
  • The speaker placement bothers me. I often end up just drowning out the sound of my games, music and videos. On the PlayBook you're less likely to do that and even if you do cover them, their loudness makes up for it.

Check out the video below for some further hands-on impressions and a quick run through of the iPad mini next to the BlackBerry PlayBook. Did any of you all out there pick one up? if so, drop some comments. It's OK to admit you're a filthy turncoat, promise!

Reader comments

Hands-on with the BlackBerry PlayBook and the iPad mini tablets


You would never buy an
Invisible Cloak?
Instagram app?
Indian food?


On another pad, I was surprised to see the iPad Mini today at school.

First of all, it's "i" and not "I", and secondly, it 's not before its name, it's the first letter of its name. That is, if you are talking about Apple devices.

I pitty the suckers that spent so much on an iPad. What a waste of money. It doesn't even have flash, and the software is the oldest on the market!

The PlayBook is worth every single penny.
Believe it.

I could be wrong, but I believe the 3 million number included the other new iPad as well, the 4th gen?... I haven't heard actual numbers for the iPad mini alone yet...

Stupidity and garbage sells...just look at McDonalds.

Apple is the Mcdonalds of the Tablet world.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

usually they are proud to shout out impressive numbers... think theyre trying to hide bad uptake numbers of the ipad mini by stating it as "3million ipads in 3 days" ??? pure speculation at this point

does it include replacements as well??? people always drop it and need it replaced, sometimes 3-4 times a year. some of those sales are from broken devices and have NO choice to get the new 1... thats true facts

I'm not a big Apple fan (the lawsuits are sealing that deal), but trying to compare the iPad mini to the Playbook and make the Playbook look favorable is a bit much dude. From overall performance to browser speed to app selection and ecosystem, this article is somewhat ridiculous, in my humble opinion.

And as just stated above, Apple sold more in a weekend than RIM sold in over a year and a half...

I didn't attempt to make either one look favorable. I pointed out some of my personal dislikes with the device. Frankly, I don't care what anyone uses. The fact you read more into the article than I even put, speaks volumes. You mentioned browser speed, ecosystems and app selection. All of which, I never even mentioned. I clearly noted that I was just looking at the hardware alone. Heck, I barely even mentioned specs, lol.

Agree with Camera531 here. Just because this is a blackberry fan site doesn't mean that the reviews have to be biased against or towards any particular item. Crackberry has value to me because it provides real-world practical info about blackberry and other brands. I prefer it because compared to most other fan sites, this provides reviews that often admit RIM's mistakes, but also provide accurate, up-to-date information without any denial of the facts. Please remove this article Crackberry. It's an uncharacteristic blotch on an otherwise very well-thought-out site.

I'm the most unbiased writer on this site. Pointing out the fact that there was things I didn't like about the iPad mini doesn't change that. You know, it's OK to like and dislike things about products all at the same time, lol.

Bla1ze, I totally respect you for that man because I know you are really hardcore blackberry, without denial of the facts, and thats'a great characteristic of this site in general. I guess what I am trying to say is, I know this is just your initial impressions, but the general underlying tone of this article comes off as a bit biased, even though I know you didn't mean it to be. that's all.

I get that and FWIW, I wrote pretty much the same article on iMore becuase I get the feeling, where people actually read this post will impact how they really feel about the content. - http://www.imore.com/ipad-mini-vs-blackberry-playbook-hands

FYI... I did just that and it's practically the same article. The funny thing is, however, is that there are no comments on the imore site....

I agree that you're unbiased (relatively) and appreciate your opinions. My point was that I think it's a stretch to put the Playbook and iPad in the same room...

Well, we can agree there.. I mean, the PlayBook at this point is well over a year old but alas, so are some of the internals on the iPad mini. :)

+1 The only thing the mini has on the PlayBook is ecosystem.
Put the specs next to each other and you would think they were released close to the same time.

The only thing that the Ipad mini has up on the PlayBook is an ecosystem.

Oh!!....and a ecosystem.

The flood gates should open with apps come Q1 :D

"The flood gates should open with apps come Q1 :D"

How long has the PlayBook been out and the apps haven't come...

I had a PlayBook for over a year, the hardware is excellent, but without the ecosystem it just doesn't matter how good the device internals are.

I thought the Playbook was great when it came out, believed it wouldn't be long before it caught up... but it hasn't happened. I would say that the PlayBook was RIM's biggest mistake, lack of marketing, announced miles too early, poor quality at launch. The focus went so much on PlayBook that the eyes left the smartphone ball and that is why they are in the position they are in.

If I was buying a tablet right now I would want to purchase the one that I can use for everything the day I buy it, not in the hope that it catches up. There is a reason the PlayBook didn't sell.

"the apps haven't come..."

Really? It has the exact same 3,000 apps as Nov of 2011? All those games I now play on mine were there at launch? :-D

"The focus went so much on PlayBook that the eyes left the smartphone ball"

Agree that it was a distraction, but I think people often think that's it's more of a distraction than it is. Development of the software on the PlayBook is development of software on the phone ... with the benefit of 1.5-2 million 'testers' giving feedback on various pieces.

It's ironic that you say Bla1ze is "unbiased (relatively)";
yet you also state that "it's a stretch to put the Playbook and iPad in the same room..."

I don't know if you see it, but you're showing us your bias bro.

Mobile nations and Crackberry.com encourage Bla1ze to share his opinions, thoughts, suggestions, predictions, etc. Hell, almost all of us encourage him to do so because he's one of the few that's in the know; gets to work with technology that we're aching to get our hands on; and is uniquely able to compare devices and platforms because he's got his hands on multiple devices at any given time. That's the perspective HE brings to the table.

As a general commenter on a high traffic website, readers in general are not aware of what perspective you bring to the table other than the bias shown by your statement above. So in a genuine effort to respect all opinions, it would be unfair to everyone to remove this post from Crackberry.com, just as it would be unfair to everyone to remove your post(s).

Sharing your opinions furthers progress. Removing/censoring opinions hinders progress.


Blaize : You did nothing wrong. It's your opinion .... and that is what is important here. Talk about how much money people are wasting on the iPad mini. How crappy the battery life is. The fact that you cant even bridge it with your iPhone. How junky the speakers are .... they don't even have dolby. The fact that it is missing flash. My God .... the list is endless.

Why don't people open their eyes and see that RIM is an outstanding company. People who brainwash easy buy apple.

One guy who lined up for hours to buy an iPad mini said, "I can't believe that there were only 12 people in line when the store opened. I shouldn't have come out to buy one."

That is how stupid some people really are.

Only one comment "really" wrong here, in my opinion(but there may be others), and it's the "people who brainwash easy buy apple". I have an iMac and love it. Been 5 years now and I love it. At the time I was jumping into the smartphone market, I was torn between iPhone and BB but chose the BB. Sooooo glad I did but can't fault those that didn't. Can't brand Apple with bad choices. It's really only the mobile market that has been falling short but that's not all Apple is.

Dude! Lighten up! People spend their money how they see fit. No need to call them stupid because they disagree with you. I am all Blackberry but it embarrasses me when I see other Blackberry fans bash. For all of Apple's short comings, they are obviously doing something right because their products sell like crazy (I like Big Macs BTW). Elevate the conversation a little.

+1 Im pretty impartial (if anything biased towards the pb, since I own one) and even I could see the negative tone of this article.

You cannot say he's biased until you try it yourself.

His review was more on the 'how does it feel on your hands' side than the so called ecosystem.

I had a moment to quickly check the Nexus. It feels good in the hand, definitely meant for reading, but the HD screen is not as bright and vibrant as the PB.

In my opinion, the PB is a tank compared to the other 7" tablets.

Just because Apple is selling more doesn't make is a better device. Compare the specs, and then look at the price and think about it. The Playbook is as good as the iPad mini despite being released waaaay before and it's also half the price!!! Do some research instead of drinking all that iKool-aid.

How is the width of the iPad mini? I find the PlayBook is just narrowly thin enough in portrait mode to fit into most pockets, but the Nexus 7 is actually better for that.

The iPad mini is just a smidge wider than the PlayBook all around. Sitting the PlayBook ontop of the iPad mini, you can just see the edge of the iPad mini around the PlayBook. In short, it should still fit in the same pocket size as the PlayBook.

When comparing side by side, I found PlayBook displays white color much better than an iPad Mini. iPad Mini displays white too warm and it does make a difference when you read black text with a white background.

iPad Mini's speakers are simply not good enough. This is especially weak when you watch a movie on it in landscape with all speakers moved to one side of the screen. On a PlayBook, it's much louder and since its speakers are on both sides in landscape, it gives a much better stereo experience.

Tablets with single speakers are a joke in that sense. Look at the new Kindle Fires, they copied the dual speakers from its original mold, the PlayBook.

agreed, when playing any game or watching a video on the playbook the audio is great. the stereo surround affect when playing a game is awesome, you can here when someone or something is coming up beside you and actually know which side to turn. great for racing games and shooters

Good job on the post Blaze. its funny how this wasn't a straight up comparison but ppl are taking it as such...and did this guy really say "My point was that I think it's a stretch to put the Playbook and iPad in the same room..." why is it a stretch? last i checked they were both 7inch tablets and they are both fighting for the same market space. so why is it a stretch to put them in the same room? do secretly mean the ipad in better than the playbook?if so go ahead and say it. are u scared ppl are going to call u and i lover? then i think u need to come outta the closet and admit your love. The problem is you are reading too much into the article, plus last i checked this was a blackberry site...and if i remember correctly Kevin too a dump on the Ipad lmao (which was hilarious).

It's even funnier when there is comments for each side:

You showed the PlayBook as more favourable!

You showed the iPad mini as more favourable!


I'd much rather buy two 32GB Playbooks, and take my wife out to Ponderosa for a nice dinner for 2 with $329 then waste it on the newest piece of ishit.

And that's what I did. When the iPad mini was announced 2 weeks ago. I gave one Playbook to my wife, kept the other for myself as a spare, and we had a great feast at Ponderosa.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

Steak, baked potatoe and a veggie for me and my wife had the deep fried shrimp platter. I told her to order steak because I knew she was gonna steal some of mine, and she did LOL.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

I can only imagine the tone of posts if you actually stated that it's weak, stale or boring....which you didn't ..but it would be interesting.

Introducing the NEW CRAPPAD MINI! Same Sh!t, Smaller Pile!


Seriously Bla1ze... this is what happens when I'm stuck in a car driving for an hour? You cause a riot in here?! I'm more mature these days... I do like looking at the competition and honestly assessing the good things and bad things. The more I do just that.... the more it makes me realize the WORLD NEEDS BlackBerry 10. 

Wow. My hair is so short back then.. 

...and if i remember correctly Kevin too a dump on the Ipad lmao (which was hilarious)

Thanks Kevin!!! You and Blaze just made my day!...LMFAO! Thats a great picture!

Ps.Blaze Dont worry about about these "you can never do anything right internet impostors" There are always 2-3 ppl out of the herd that make a left turn even though the sign says no left turns...;)

LOL Kevin sh!tting on an iPad mini. I knew RIM would come up with a good use for Apples new iCrap.
I’d rather be a Black Sheep than an iSheep any day.

Such an awesome photo. Reminds me of Frank Zappa antics in the '70's!

I love tech toys and I'm sure I'd have fun with an iPad, but I cannot justify the price/value when compared to the PlayBook. And not only that, I think the BB OS does it better on PB or phones. Two 64GB PB's in the house and I'm on my 4th BB phone. Can't wait for BB 10!

The only thing I like about Apple products is how smooth they are. If there is anything that frustrates me, it is how sluggish my PlayBook feels. Often times I turn it to a different view and it doesn't take until I move it several times. Also, using Glimpse App, it specially shows because when you rub the top of the bezel it doesn't react. I really think it's time for RIM to bring out an updated PlayBook. The thing that pisses me off the most is that they still haven't made a dock with built in HDMI out. It's supposed to be a professional grade tablet and yet I have to lay it down to do presentations and it looks so unprofessional not to mention ugly laying it down. On some positive points I will say it is VERY versatile compared to ANY tablet currently available because of bridge.

Ever used a last generation iPod Touch running iOS 6?

Press the button, wait five seconds, something happens. or an iMac near the bottom of the spec list running MOUNTAIN LION. Wait 10 seconds to switch between apps.

The first iPad running on iOS 6 is also very laggy! And the only time I find my PlayBook laggy is when I'm loading up CB or my e-mails.

If i hear the term "ecosystem" ONE MORE TIME!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, how many apps are deal breakers? really.. yes I know there are a few that even die hard BBers complain about but which ones? Skype? Netflix? What else? Im talking deal breakers one would pay an extra $150 for a 7?

Ive yet to recv my new Playbook but the research Ive done it would be dumb for me to pay that much more for the use of a few apps. I would never use Netflix anyway - I can find what I want in many other locals on the net and have only used Skype a few time but then again I dont live in my mom's basement.

Edit - damn, I wrote IPAD instead of Playbook hahaha

Great review. That was information i wouldn't have had because I'm not giving up my PlayBook and Bridge functions for anything.

I love my Playbook work it for work and pleasure. My son of 7 loves to play games on it like spiderman, much better than Nintendo. I am contemplating to give him his own. The prices are so low currently.

But comparison on grip is not realistic. I expect that over 90% of the users have a case for their IPAD, PAD mini or Blackberry Playbook. I initially also liked the back both on my bold9790 as on the Playbook. But I soon bought protection for them as I slipped my Playbook once or twice.

Brief but informative review B1aze, quick overview of good and the bad for each device. I always look forward to your blog posts because i know its going to be the "geeky" unbiased review of the day to day stuff i actually care about, like where your thumbs go when youre trying to read a book, or the placement of the speakers when youre trying to watch a movie.

The argument for potentially needing a case for the ipad mini, i dont think ive seen an i-device in the past 3-6 months WITHOUT a case on it, which i find strange for their argument of sacrificing soooo much to make their devices thinner...

I think like you said in your video, the thiness is starting to become a disadvantage to any device because it does make it harder to hold and you get a feeling of weakness like youre going to break it easily... whether its made of plastic or metal or both

My wife got her iPad mini on the 2nd and it's very light and thin but man It felt like if I dropped it it would break into a million pieces. She went out the next day and picked up a case for it because she was so afraid of dropping it and breaking it. I also don't like the 4:3 ratio screen I mean it's nice for portrait view but it's odd in landscape too me at least. I hardly ever use portrait on the playbook except to text and type emails.

I had got her a playbook last Xmas and she has loved it until her friend got an iPad 2 or 3 can't remember which one and shes been saying how much she would love one of them if they didn't cost so much but then she heard the mini was coming out and I couldn't talk any sense into her and she bought it.

She had been using the playbook to watch sites that streamed TV shows and they must have had some flash components to them because she cant watch them on the mini now, so she still has to use the Playbook for most things she was hoping to use the mini for, I just laugh at her for wasting her money. Plus I asked her how long before her home button stops working like on her iPhone 4.

I just think the Playbook is the overall best bang for your buck 7" tablet out there and also pairing a BB phone with it is just the cherry on top IMHO.

I checked out the new iPad Mini on Saturday at the local Staples. It does look great. The design is excellent. I fooled around with it and it is almost too light. Even the store guy was very careful with it. It does feel pretty sturdy though and it is pretty mobile compared to the awkwardness of the normal iPad. I still think that the current playbook (even though much older and not as pretty) is a better device technically and just feels much more solid and more usable and robust (even the screen looks better). So aside from the good looks, it's just another Apple ecosystem thingy. I can see a new version of this coming out in 6 months with suped up screen, etc., but I also see RIM coming up with a suped up playbook in that timeframe as well. Could be a different ball game by then.

And whilst all the nay sayers are naying......I've been buying up playbooks for my son and his mum for Xmas prezzies. Nice prices here in the UK. Using mine for smaller house parties. And totally relaxed and waiting patiently for Q1. Saving to buy out right an L Series for me and one for my son. Meep! Meep!!

Sorry the ipad mini doesn't come close to blowing away the playbook in terms of UI, hardware/software and ... way for it.. price!. and the playbook is a year and a half old!

Ipad mini = FAIL.. Apple could have done a much better job.. but that Apple's way! Wait until the next refresh in 6 months and even then it'll leave much to be desired.

it seems people in news media cannot say anything critical about apple products without backlash from religious apple zealots... keep doing your thing blaze, most of us appreciate your efforts

Bold 9900 - Playbook 32GB - Lumia 800

I think most people throw a case on their mobile apple devices for a few reasons but one in particular: resale value. Bash Apple & their products all you like but when you’re ready to offload it, there is a very vibrant aftermarket for a phone or tablet when the new new thing gets rolled out. So next year when Apple releases the mini II, I’ll still be able to get north of $200 for my device if not more. How many consumer products have as high a resale value as Apple?

I bought an ipad 3 during the summer but gave it to a younger sibling who wanted a smaller device (non laptop) where she could easily get college textbooks cheaply and link into various academic groups/programs. She uses an android phone and loves it, but the text book selection just wasn’t there so Apple it was. I found the device too heavy for my primary purpose, reading books.

I pre-ordered the mini and received over the past weekend. Size & weight fit perfectly into what I needed for book reading, websites browsing and quickly tapping out a few work emails via Good instead of reaching for my blackberry.

From an ecosystem, I know folks get tired of hearing about it, but it does mean a lot. I only use a handful of apps but it’s comforting to know that a new device has support for things such as Flipboard, Roku, Pocket, Kindle and ibooks.

Yesterday a colleague and I walked into the Grand Central store and he picked up a 32gb new ipad, within 5 mins, the device was setup and his new ipad was loaded with his 35apps of his iphone 4s. He was able to jump on the train and enjoy the new device immediately... Apple makes life simple and apps get updated on a regular basis. So yes, 700k apps and I only use a handful but if I ever decide to do more on my device, there’s an entire candy store for me to access.

People are still talking about flash as a selling point?

I can’t wait for BB10 to rollout so we can focus on current product to current product rather than why this idevice isn’t as good as that device.

Flash? That can't be a selling point now on the PB. Try using the browser with Flash or Java on. You can run to the corner store and back before it finishes loading or checkerboarding.

Ecosystem might not have meant anything 2-3 yrs back but it is absolutely essential now. Microsoft will be killing off messenger and moving everything to Skype. Think about that for five seconds. Live messenger contacts and Skype into one app. Think who doesn't have a Skype app.

I wanna see someone try to snap the three ipads in half over a bar OR their knee. Seriously. DO IT!!!

That would show how really tough they are. Lol