We first saw the iFive Mini 3 a few months ago when Adrian Lim, IT Director of Novo 7 Tech, brought it with him for their first guesting on the Unbox Podcast (where we talked about the THL W11 Monkey King). Last episode we unboxed it and saw first-hand how closely it resembled the form factor of the iPad Mini. It was so similar that we said so in the title of our unboxing and initial hands-on post, hehe. Anyway, we’ve been using it as our main tablet for the last few weeks and we’d like to share with you guys our full review.
Before anything let’s quickly take a refresher on the specifications.
Five Mini 3 Spec Sheet
- 1.6GHz Cortex-A9 Quad Core CPU, Rockchip RK3188 Chipset
- Mali-400MP GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB internal storage, expandable up to 32GB via microSD
- 7.9-inches capacitive IPS display (1024×768)
- 5.0-megapixels primary camera
- 2.0-megapixels secondary camera
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, OTG, Supports 3G Dongle
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
- 4100mAh Li-Ion battery
- SRP: Php8,399
As you can see it ain’t no slouch. Now let’s see what does numbers mean in real life usage with our review!
Hardware: Lightweight, Compact, Thin, and iPad-Minish
As we mentioned in our initial hands-on post, the iFive Mini 3 takes a lot of design cues from the iPad Mini. It has the same screen size at 7.9-inches, same resolution, and even the same form factor. It’s actually thinner but it still feels solid, compact, and sturdy. Now the downside is that it might get accused of being an iPad Mini clone. However the upside is that you get all the benefits of the form factor of the iPad Mini.
By the way, the micro SD card slot is located at the top (together with most of the buttons and ports). Because it’s located externally it’s easier to change if needed. However note that there is no volume rocker which can be a disadvantage since some people look for physical keys when they want to increase or lower the volume of their tablets.
The 1024×768 resolution on the 7.9-inch display comes out okay (not super pixelated but you can make ’em out if you squint). Colors feel like a shade lighter but that’s just us nitpicking. When it comes to the screen size, we feel that the 7.9-inch display is far superior than the standard 7-inches. The extra size is just right for you to fully enjoy web browsing.
Lastly, if you’re going to look for cases for the iFive Mini 3 note that you can use iPad Mini cases. The iFive Mini 3 will most likely fit it them. We tried it with a couple of cases from Speck and it fit snuggly into it.
Performance: Highs and Lows
The iFive Mini 3 has a lot of things going for it but it does have a few performance issues as well. As a media consumption device, it’s simply outstanding. Be it reading ebooks, browsing websites, watching movies, or checking social media, the iFive Mini 3 delivers a great user experience. There’s also rarely any lag so as long as you properly manage active applications and those running in the background.
The same can be said for the communications and messaging aspect of the iFive Mini 3. E-mails, online chats, and video calls all worked well.
What’s puzzling though is gaming. Despite the 18,000+ Antutu score, the iFive Mini 3 struggles with graphics intensive titles like NBA 2K14, Dead Trigger 2, and even Despicable Me Minion Rush. There were notable instances where the game stuttered and lagged and this was pretty consistent all throughout our time with the device. Upon further investigation and prodding, we were able to nail down the culprit. The 1GB RAM just can’t handle it with this big of a display and all the background tasks running on an Android tablet. 1GB RAM is enough for a smartphone but it’s found wanting for an Android tablet, especially if you will use the device for games.
Casual titles though like Candy Crush and the like will run like buttery. The only games that might be frustrating are the more graphics intensive ones.
The RAM is the only major chink in the armor of the iFive Mini 3 when it comes to performance and it shows with gaming and heavy multi-tasking.
Camera: Good for Video Calls
The iFive Mini 3 has a 5.0-megapixel primary camera. It’s not really that good but it can get the job done of taking decent photos in very good lighting conditions. Forget using it though when you’re in low light areas. There’s just too much noise and you can barely make out the details.
The real use of the front and rear cameras is really for video calls. We had no issues using Skype or Google Hangouts.
Battery Life: Average
The 4,100mAh battery of the iFive Mini 3 was enough to power us through a busy day. With mostly messaging, reading, web browsing, and social networking, we got close to 9 hours. Straight gaming and video playback though reduced this a lot and a marathon gaming session of Plants versus Zombies 2 only got us around 4-5 hours.
Over-all standard/average battery life.
Verdict: Perfect for Media Consumption
So what’s our verdict? The review pretty much says it all already. As a media consumption device, the iFive Mini 3 is superb thanks to the thin and lightweight form factor combined with the powerful processor. As a gaming machine though it clearly falters.
If you’re looking for a compact tablet that you can bring with you wherever you go and you use it mostly for videos, browsing, and social networking, this one is for you. The iFive Mini 3 is a good deal already given the price. However if you’re going to use it like a true handheld gaming machine you might want to reconsider. 🙂
The iFive Mini 3 is available already in Novo 7 Tech kiosks and stores nationwide.