More than a month after the official unveiling of the new iPad models (the fifth generation main iPad and the second generation iPad mini with Retina display) on October 22nd, they are both available for purchase and are getting ready for this month’s holiday rush.
The fifth generation iPad, named iPad Air, was released at the beginning of last month on November 1st and features a thinner and lighter 9.7 inch form factor. The second generation iPad mini was released quietly on November 12th, even though Apple had to deal with supply constraints, and it features a much needed Retina display.
These past days included holidays and events such as Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday and both the iPad Air and the second generation iPad mini were in high demand. Things will stay like this as Christmas is just around the corner and that means a lot of people will buy the new iPad models in the coming weeks.
In this article we will try to help you decide which of the two new iPad models is better for you, a friend or a loved one; we will provide an analysis of both the iPad Air and the Retina display iPad mini.
The first thing you probably consider when buying a tablet is its price and so it will be the first thing we will talk about. The iPad Air’s and second generation iPad mini’s starting prices are $100 apart: the 16 GB version of the iPad Air has a starting price of $499 while the 16 GB second generation iPad mini has a starting price of $399; the 128 GB and cellular iPad Air has price tag of $929, while the 128 GB and cellular second generation iPad mini has price tag of $829.
SO, how is the $100 difference justified?
Well, one thing is certain: the $100 price difference does not reflect speed as both new iPad models are powered by Apple’s latest System on Chip, the 64 bit A7 SoC and they both include the M7 motion co-processor; the 64 bit A7 System on Chip and the M7 motion co-processor are also powering the recently released iPhone 5S.
The price difference also does not reflect camera sensors as both the iPad Air and the Retina iPad mini feature the same 1.2 MP FaceTime HD cameras capable of recording videos in 720p High Definition, as well as the same 5 MP iSight cameras that are capable of recording videos in full High Definition (1080p) with 3x zoom. The new iPad models also feature the same WiFi capabilities, multiple input multiple output (MIMO) tech, and Bluetooth 4.0.
The only possible reason for the $100 price difference is the difference in display size between the iPad Air and the second generation iPad mini with Retina display. The iPad Air features a 9.7 inch display, while the second generation iPad mini comes with a 7.9 inch display. It may sound like the difference in display is not as important as to justify a difference of one hundred bucks, but the truth is display is very important to the iPad experience.
As anyone can tell you, when it comes to tablets the most important part is the display. That’s because the display is the tablet. It is not only the way the user interacts with the tablet but also, obviously, the medium for presentation. The display’s size and shape and quality are factors that are tied directly to the experience offered by the tablet.
As we mentioned above, the iPad Air comes with a 9.7 inch display, while the second generation iPad mini has a 7.9 inch display. The difference in price reflects the fact that the iPad Air means you will get a bigger (but just as powerful) display with a larger form factor the second generation iPad mini is not only lighter and smaller, but also cheaper and that’s because its display isn’t as big as the iPad Air’s.
Talking about display size, a very important question comes to mind: does size really matter?
People will answer this question differently, but most of the time size doesn’t seem to matter. Most consumers seem to prefer the iPad mini due to its portability and the fact that it is easier to hold with a single hand. The iPad mini being lighter (it only weighs 0.73 pounds while the iPad Air weighs 1 pound) also contributes to its popularity among consumers. The iPad Air is also 1.53 inches taller than the second generation iPad mini and 1.3 inches wider, but both tablets are 7.5 mm thin.
The size difference isn’t enormous and besides, some consumers would rather have an iPad with a larger display, especially for activities such as gaming, watching movies, or even working. If you are one of many users that use many different apps for writing, editing, presentations and spreadsheets you will probably want the biggest available display, since looking at a small display for long periods of time isn’t a very attractive option.
While the second generation iPad mini’s display isn’t a lot smaller than iPad Air’s display, the fact that they are very similar from a hardware point of view makes the display an important factor to consider as it is one of the only important difference between the two tablets.
As you see, some people prefer a smaller form factor and a tablet that can be easily held in one hand, while other prefer a bigger display, so the choice between the two new iPad tablets depends on personal preference.
Both tablets are very powerful, very beautiful and portable (with a plus for the second generation iPad mini due to its smaller form factor); not only that, but thanks to the second generation iPad mini’s Retina display, this year both tablets are also very similar in terms of display quality.
As we said at the beginning of this article, due to the many similarities between the two new iPad models, many customers will choose to gift the Retina iPad mini as it is $100 cheaper, but just as fast as the iPad Air. However, if you are looking to get a tablet for yourself and if you will use it for gaming or working, then you will want to pay the extra hundred and get the iPad Air as it offers a bigger display; your eyes will thank you!
If you are looking for a cheaper iPad with a big display and you don’t mind an older model, you should know that Apple also sells the 9.7 non Retina iPad 2 for $399 (which is the same price as the 16 GB second generation iPad mini).
If you don’t care about display size and want the cheapest available iPad, then you can buy the first generation iPad mini (that does not feature a Retina display) as it saw a price drop from $329 to $299. (Courtesy iosdoc.com)