iPad air or mini- which one should you buy?


I received the new iPad mini with retina display from Apple this week. And as expected, it is faster and has a sharper screen than the first generation iPad mini. It is a touch heavier and thicker than its predecessor. It has excellent battery life, at least as good as the previous model.
But here is the thing- the difference in the screen is apparent only if you compare the old and new iPad mini next to each other or when you are looking at text-rich material. Also, the speed of the new A7 processor is apparent when one plays a graphic rich game like Infinity blade. So, if you have an older iPad mini and if you play a lot of games or read books on the mini, it might be worth the upgrade. The sharper screen and the faster processor make it worthwhile for this kind of discerning user.

But here is the question asked by my colleagues- which one should I buy- the iPad air or iPad mini with retina display? With the previous generation mini, the lack of a retina display screen and the slower processor meant that the larger iPad came out ahead in every comparison. This time around, Apple has narrowed the gap between the two devices. Both new tablets have been equipped with the A7 chip and the retina screen. The differences boil down to size and the marginal differences in speed (which most people will not notice during routine use).
If you feel the need for a larger screen and are going to use the tablet to do a lot of typing like writing papers, reading a MRI scan on the go or editing photographs, I would suggest choosing the iPad Air. It is lighter, marginally faster and the screen provides real estate to do more. Also, the color gamut reproducibility is better on the iPad Air. The reds, blues and magentas look a lot better on the iPad Air as pointed out by many observers. I checked this out on my devices and as you can see from the photograph of my home screen, the reds of the Netflix and Flipboard icons look a lot more “redder” on the iPad Air screen.
Also, the choice will be based on whether you consume more than you create on the tablet. In other words, do you watch movies, YouTube and read a lot more than you edit documents, write blogposts, edit photographs and movies. In that case, the iPad mini is a good option.
The final question is- does a smaller size and increased portability ? The iPad Mini offers the ability to carry it in your jacket pocket or in purses. To many, this is a significant advantage that cannot be ignored.
To me, the choice is clear- I still choose the larger iPad Air over the mini. It is lighter than the previous generation, faster than any other tablet I have used, the screen is super-sharp and the 9.7 inch screen gives me a lot more real estate to work with.
As for my 10 year-old son, who plays games, reads books and watches movies on the device, the new retina iPad mini is an excellent companion. He loves it and the flaws I see in it do not bother him. To each his own, I say!


About Sanjay Prabhu

Pediatric radiologist working at one of the world's largest children's hospitals. I love gadgets, technology and anything with a chip in it!

Posted on November 21, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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