The $399 iPad mini (16 GB Wi-Fi) with Retina display is over $100 more expensive than the 16GB Nexus 7. It’s also $100 more expensive than the original iPad mini model (without Retina display), costs exactly the same as a 16GB iPad 2, and is only $100 cheaper than the .
These are not mistakes. The new iPad mini’s price puts it in a precarious position next to its competitors, both from in-house and away. Is it really worth its price? Is it sufficiently different from the original iPad mini to justify the price bump? Or perhaps you’re better off going all the way and shelling the extra cash for an iPad Air?
To find out, we bought the new iPad mini with Retina display, took it for a spin, and compared it closely with its older sibling. Worth it or not, though, one of you will still win this gorgeous $399 tablet for free, and when it’s free, it’s always worth it. Read on for more details!
While I already mentioned some of the competition above, these are by no means the only ones the new iPad mini needs to struggle against. Google, Amazon, Samsung, and even Apple itself offer other tablets that could put the new Mini in the dark.
For just $349, $50 less than the 16GB new iPad mini, you could get yourself a new 32GB LTE Nexus 7. Go one step down, and you can have a Wi-Fi 32GB Nexus 7 for less than $269. And that’s without mentioning the $229 16GB version, and without considering frequent sales, like the one currently happening on Best Buy, where you can get a 16GB Nexus 7 for only $200.
From Amazon, there are yet more choices to consider. A 7″ 16GB Wi-Fi Kindle Fire HDX with special offers will only cost you $229, and you only have to add $15 to get rid of those offers. A similar 32GB model can be had for $269, and if you opt for the somewhat older Kindle Fire HD, you can have the 7″ =a=16GB model for only $169 (with special offers).
For the price of the new iPad mini, you can get the 8.9″ 16GB Kindle Fire HDX from Amazon with Wi-Fi only and special offers. And for this, you still pay $20 less than for the new iPad mini with Retina display.
From Samsung, you have the newest Galaxy Note 8, with an official price of $359, but with much cheaper options in various online stores. The Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 can be had for about $170. A slew of new tablets is expected from Samsung this month, so a more serious competitor could be in the works.
Let’s face it, though, some of you will have nothing but iOS on your tablet, and you do have a point. You’d think Apple would try to make the new iPad mini worth buying, but looking at the other options from Apple, this is not necessarily the case.
As mentioned above, the older iPad mini can be yours for $299 (16GB Wi-Fi version), and the older iPad 2 can be had for less than the new Mini. And if you’re already spending $400, why not spend $100 more and get yourself a new iPad Air for $499? This is what we’re here to find out.
Unwrapping The Candy
Like all iPads, this one too feels like unwrapping a candy. The new iPad mini is meticulously packed, all down to the custom-made USB wall charger. While I already have some Apple chargers lying around the house, I’ve yet to see a charger like this.
Unfortunately, this iPad came with a British wall-plug adapter, so I won’t be able to use it even once, but you could be having lots of fun with this LEGO-like charger. Heck, it’s lots of fun even when you don’t get to actually use it.
Other than this, it’s all pretty much standard Apple fare. In fact, it looks very much like the original iPad mini packaging. And then you turn it on.
New vs. Old — What’s The Difference?
When the new iPad mini came out, we were expecting a new design. Well, maybe not completely new — this is Apple after all — but no one expected them to look exactly the same. And yes, the new iPad mini looks exactly the same as the old one.
Other than some minuscule differences in thickness (0.3 mm, 0.01 inches) and in weight (23 g, 0.05 pounds), the only visual difference is the addition of a second microphone to the back of the new iPad mini. No matter how much you look at these two devices side by side, you’d be hard-pressed to find more differences.
The major difference comes to light when you turn the iPads on. The new iPad comes with a much sharper 2048×1536 screen with 326 pixels per inch (ppi), while the non-Retina iPad mini’s display is only 1024×768 with 163 ppi. Does this make a real difference? It does. But not all the time.
While you will notice a difference in display sharpness, that difference truly comes to light in text. The new iPad mini’s display is a joy to read on, and whether you’re reading a book or a website, you’re going to love the way text looks on this tablet. Don’t get me wrong, the old iPad mini doesn’t look bad — in fact, I never had a complaint about it before I turned on the new Mini — but once you read on these two side by side, you can’t help but root for Retina.
The difference is not as noticeable when it comes to photos, videos, and games. Yes, the new Mini’s display is sharper, and yes, there are more pixels there, but for the average user, this won’t make a huge difference most of the time.
Display is not the only difference, of course. The new iPad mini comes with a dual core 64-bit 1.3 GHz Apple A7 processor, M7 motion coprocessor, and 1 GB of RAM. These specs are identical to the iPad Air, which is quite impressive. The older Mini, on the other hand, only comes with a dual core 32-bit 1 GHz Apple A5 processor and 512 MB of RAM.
So is the new Mini really faster and more responsive? Surprisingly, there isn’t much of a difference in everyday use. While you may be able to keep more open tabs in your browser, heavy games such as Real Racing 3 perform the same on the two iPads, and the same goes for anything else I tried on both these devices. If you’re a heavy user who pushes an iPad to its limits, you’ll probably notice a difference, but for most of us, it won’t be felt.
Battery life, sound, and even the cameras are all reportedly identical. In fact, not only are the cameras identical in the two iPad minis, you’ll also find the exact same specs in the iPad Air. So if you own an old iPad mini, you haven’t made such a bad deal.
Living With The iPad mini with Retina display
If you feel like I haven’t actually looked at the device, that’s because there’s not much point. Jackson already reviewed the first iPad mini quite extensively, and as I’ve already mentioned, not much has changed.
Don’t take this to mean that the new iPad mini is not a good tablet. In fact, it’s an awesome tablet. It’s fast and responsive, it runs anything you throw at it, it’s lovely to read on, and it’s just the right size for two people to watch videos together. It’s easy enough to hold with one hand, and despite the smallish bezel, I never found myself flipping book pages or switching screens by mistake.
Multitasking gestures are still a bit hard to control, and the super-high resolution makes it hard to perform delicate tasks such as closing tabs or hitting inside that search box. It would have been nice to have a better camera, but since this is the standard fare for tablets, I can’t really fault the new Mini for this.
All in all, the only thing that’s holding the new iPad mini back is its price. And with Apple products, this really is nothing new.
Should You Buy The iPad mini with Retina display?
What are you looking for in a tablet? Are you an Apple fan and want only iOS or your tablet? In that case, the new iPad mini is a pretty solid buy. It’s cheaper and smaller than the Air, but offers just about the same specifications. If you can stomach buying an older model, and don’t do much reading on your tablet, you can save even more money by going for the original iPad mini. You won’t be sorry there either.
Don’t care that much for Apple? You’re probably better of with a Nexus 7. With 2 GB of RAM, an almost identical display, the newest version of Android, and at nearly half the price, the new Nexus 7 is almost unbeatable.
Buy it if you’re an Apple fan and love to read on your tablet.
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