iPads are becoming increasingly popular these days. Apple offers two current-generation versions: the iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display.
The size of these two devices is the obvious difference between them. However, a comparative look at each model may help you make the decision of which will better suit your individual needs.
The iPad Air features a 9.7-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 at 264 pixels per inch (ppi). The iPad Mini with Retina Display has a 7.9-inch display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 at 326 pixels per inch (ppi).
What you need to know: The iPad Air and the Retina iPad Mini both offer a high-resolution Retina Display. The only difference between the two displays is, inherently, their size (9.7 inches vs 7.9 inches).
A brief explanation of what a Retina Display is (compared to a traditional display) can be found in the ‘display’ section of the article “MacBook Pro Versus MacBook Pro with Retina Display“. The same basic principles apply to the iPad.
Storage Capacity and Price
The iPad Air comes in four hard drive configurations: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB, priced at $499, $599, $699 and $799, respectively. The iPad Mini with Retina Display is also available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions, priced at $399, $499, $599 and $699, respectively.
A Wifi + Cellular model is available of both the iPad Air and the Retina iPad Mini for an additional $230 per model.
What you need to know: In terms of storage capacity and price, the difference between the iPad Air and the Retina iPad Mini is simple; both models provide the same options for how many movies, songs, apps, etcetera, can be stored, but in each case the iPad Mini costs $100 less.
Both models come in Wifi + Cellular versions, allowing users to access data services through a cellular network. These services cost a monthly fee, however, and the Wifi + Cellular iPads are significantly more expensive than their wifi-only counterparts.
Processing Chip and Battery Life
The iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display contain the same 64-bit ‘A7’ processor and M7 motion coprocessor. Both devices allow for up to 10 hours of usage on their built-in battery.
What you need to know: The iPad Air and the Retina iPad Mini both run on Apple’s latest-generation mobile processor. In other words, both devices will run various apps at about the same speed and with the same efficiency.
Both devices will also last for the same 10 hours (approximated) on a full charge.
Physical Specifications and Cameras
The iPad Air is 9.4 inches tall, 6.6 inches wide, and 0.29 inches thin. It weighs approximately 1 pound. The iPad Mini with Retina Display is 7.87 inches tall, 5.3 inches wide, and 0.29 inches thing, weighing approximately 0.73 pounds.
Both models feature a 1.2 mega-pixel FaceTime HD camera with 720p HD video and face detection on their front sides, and a 5 mega-pixel iSight camera with autofocus, f/2.4 aperture, HDR photo creation, and a hybrid IR filter on their backs. Both devices are capable of 1080p HD video recording.
What you need to know: The iPad Air is in almost every sense an enlarged iPad Mini. It is just as thin and uses exactly the same camera modules for its FaceTime (front) and iSight (rear-facing) cameras.
Other than their general size, the one physical difference between the two iPads is their weight. the Retina iPad Mini is a good quarter-pound lighter than the iPad Air. This is not a drastic difference, but it is noticeable.
Basically, if the $100 difference in price between the iPad Air and the Retina iPad Mini is not a major concern, the only factor that might influence anyone’s decision to buy one iPad over another is their screen size. If you think you would benefit from a larger tablet screen, the iPad Air might be a better choice. If portability is more of a priority, the iPad Mini can offer that.
Because both models have the same 2048 x 1536 resolution screens, nothing is cut-off or lost on the iPad Mini. Everything is simply smaller.
Both devices are powerful, durable tablets. They include access to over a million downloadable apps and ship with Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 7.
If you decide you prefer a larger iPad, but can’t decide between the iPad Air and the iPad with Retina Display, check out “iPad Air Versus iPad with Retina Display” for a side-by-side comparison of the two models.
Apple also currently offers the last-generation iPad with Retina Display and last-generation non-Retina iPad Mini starting at $399 and $299, respectively. These, along with the current-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini can be purchased from Apple’s online store, or from any authorized Apple retailer.
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