To iPad Air Is Human, To Retina iPad mini Is Divine?

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OK, apologies for probably my cheesiest post title ever here, but this is the $64,000 question this month for a lot of iPad users and soon-to-be iPad users – which one to get. It’s a lot tougher choice this year with the new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display both due out this month.

Last year, when the original iPad mini was released, there were much more clear differences between the standard (big) iPad and the iPad mini. The iPad offered its stunning retina display that you couldn’t help but fall in love at first sight with – the iPad mini didn’t. The iPad had the bigger screen and was a more powerful device – a more viable laptop replacement for at least some users.

The iPad mini stood out for its wonderful lightness and smaller form factor. It was the smaller tablet that made me realize I love smaller tablets. The lightness and form factor and ease of holding the iPad mini for long stretches more than made up for its lack of Retina display for me – though like so many others I couldn’t wait to see the retina display in a future generation of the mini.

Now, with this year’s new models, the differences between the two are far less stark. The iPad mini now has a Retina display and the same 2048X1536 resolution as the iPad Air. The Retina iPad mini also comes with the same powerful new 64-bit A7 processor, dedicated motion processor, and 2X faster WiFi as the iPad Air. It’s smaller, but there’s nothing else that’s mini about its specs compared to its big sibling.

The iPad Air has now been slimmed down significantly – ‘minified’ even. It’s almost 1/3 lighter than the previous generation. It’s a full 20% thinner. It has significantly thinner bezels, like the iPad mini.

Before last week’s unveiling of the new models I thought my decision on which to buy was easy – I’ve used my iPad mini far more than my iPad 3 over the last year, so the new iPad mini would be my easy pick.

Now, not so much. The timing of the releases, with the iPad Air launching weeks before the Retina iPad mini, will help me out. I’ll get the iPad Air on launch day and will get to see whether it’s light enough and whether I enjoy its trimmer form factor enough to sway me from the Retina iPad mini. Then I’ll get the Retina iPad mini when it comes out and really weigh them up against each other for a few weeks and decide which way to go.

That’s my current battle plan for choosing between the new iPad models. What are your plans? Have you got a definite favorite among the two new iPads?

* Image courtesy of GigaOm

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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2 thoughts on “To iPad Air Is Human, To Retina iPad mini Is Divine?”

  1. Looking forward to your thoughts on the retina mini vs. air. Deciding between the two seems like a pretty good problem to have. For me, the price difference will be a big factor. The Air will have to be really special to warrant the $100 price difference (that $100 could go toward doubling the mini’s storage). Enjoy the reviews!

  2. Definitely the mini, simply because I prefer the smaller size. I’m also getting a 10″ tablet, mainly as a video player on a treadmill mount. I will be getting a Nexus 10 instead of an iPad Air, due to the iPad not being widescreen. I wish they’d make the bigger one widescreen, while keeping the Mini 4:3 (great for reading).

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