iPhone and iPad

IPad Mini or IPad Air? Why & How I Use Them Both

Bakari Chavanu 22-12-2013

Recently I purchased the new iPad Air with the intention of selling or passing on my iPad mini. After spending time with both devices, I’ve realized that I use them both for different purposes. Maybe I’m a sucker for Apple products, but I have found separate uses for both devices, of which their main difference is size.


I avoid upgrading to every new piece of Apple hardware released because I can’t afford it, and also because in many cases there’s not enough practical differences between the new models to make me feel as though I’m missing out on something. I kept my first generation iPad until the iPad mini was released, and I’m not thinking about upgrading to the iPhone 5s any time soon.

So why two iPads? Well, it’s mainly because I’m a die hard paperless Apple user The Beginner's Guide To Going Paperless With A Mac, iPad and iPhone I don't have the stats to prove it, but I think the money I save by going paperless practically pays for my Apple devices. Read More .

Same Device, Different Sizes

I’m not going to spend much time comparing the internals of the iPad Air to the first generation iPad mini. Each is the 16GB model, and each is lightweight and comfortable to hold even with a case. Holding a naked iPad is always awkward for me, and in terms of speed, I don’t really notice much of a difference between both devices under everyday use.


The iPad Air, of course, is larger (diagonal 9.7″ screen size for the Air,  7.9″ for the mini), and it’s just about as thin as the iPad mini. With the larger size and the retina display, reading documents on the iPad Air makes for a huge difference, which is one of the reasons I wanted the larger model. So since the difference between both devices is mainly size, how do I use them?


How I Use My iPad Air

Apps I mostly used on the iPad Air include notebook apps like Evernote and Springpad How To Share Notebooks In Evernote & Springpad Springpad and Evernote are awesome file cabinets for storing and managing articles, recipes, products, and text clippings we want to save for later review. But an additional way to maximize these powerful notebooks is to... Read More , read later apps like Pocket Get More Out Of Pocket With These 6 Tips To Enhance Your Reading Experience While Pocket is simple and easy-to-use, there are a few ways you can make the experience of using the service even better. Whether it's finding interesting ways to save content to your Pocket account, or... Read More and Instapaper Instapaper Could Be The Best Read Later App For The iPad One of the classic reading apps for the iPad and iPhone is Instapaper, which still shines above all others for its unique tilt scrolling and page flipping features. This well-designed app is supported by dozens... Read More , Amazon Instant Video, Kindle reader, Newsstand magazines, and drawing apps Paper Why The Drawing & Sketching App Paper Won Apple's iPad App For 2012 The sketch and drawing app, Paper, recently won Apple's 2012 iPad App of the Year Award, and it is very easy to see why. Even if you're not an artist but are a true fan... Read More , Sketch Rolls Going Paperless With These 3 iPad & iPhone Handwriting Apps Last year I wrote about a few useful handwriting iPad apps for note taking and drawing. Since then other similar apps have been developed that are just as stylish, but contain a few unique features... Read More , and Bamboo Paper Make Your iPad A True Writing Tool With These Notebook Apps For me, the iPad is the ultimate device for paperless reading, writing, and photo viewing. The comfortable viewing size of the iPad makes it a perfect electronic notebook for reading ebooks, PDFs, typing short emails,... Read More .

My recent article about going paperless The Beginner's Guide To Going Paperless With A Mac, iPad and iPhone I don't have the stats to prove it, but I think the money I save by going paperless practically pays for my Apple devices. Read More describes many of the apps I use on all my Apple devices for reading, writing, and productivity purposes. I very seldom write anything on paper anymore, and I read nearly everything on an iPad.

Magazine app

While I originally got the iPad mini because of its smaller size, I found it not as comfortable and practical for reading digital magazines and PDFs. The iPad Air makes reading such documents almost like reading the paper version. I can hold the Air and read a digital magazine similar to how I hold a paper magazine.


When I want to read or annotate a PDF or online article, it’s much easier on the Air, using the magazine style app, Zite, the PDF reader, iAnnotate iAnnotate: The Best iPad App for Annotating PDFs and Word Documents When it comes to annotating and reviewing PDF documents on the iPad, iAnnotate PDF ($9.99) is my go-to solution. If there's an option to download a .MOBI or .EPUB ebook or .PDF version of a... Read More , and the Internet bookmarking and annotation app, Diigo Use Diigo To Help Write Your Next College Essay or Term Paper Read More . The screen size of the Air makes text and photos larger, and there’s less need to resize page documents.

IPad Mini or IPad Air? Why & How I Use Them Both ipad air1

I also use the Air like a bonafide notebook. Though I mainly write all my articles on my iMac, I now use the iPad Air to proofread my larger documents in the same way I used to edit them on paper, but without a red or green marking pen. My Evernote, Springpad, and Snipe Capture Your Quick Notes, Ideas, and Photos With Snipe for iOS & OS X Shortly after I started using Snipe, it got moved to my iPhone and iPad home pages, and to the dock on both of my Macs. Let me show you why. Read More apps are full of notes and clippings that I use for projects and job related tasks, and now because I use both devices, I can type on the iPad mini while referencing documents on my iPad Air, as if it were a paper notebook.

In terms of the Kindle reader app Should You Buy a Kindle or Just Use the Free App? Just about everyone owns an e-reader these days -- and most people own Kindles. But do you really need a Kindle when you can just use the Kindle app? Let's find out... Read More , I mainly read software manuals and books, and PDFs, because making highlights in the reader simply requires dragging your finger across text; no tapping and selecting text required.


How I Use My iPad Mini

Apps I mostly use on the iPad mini are Tweetbot, Day One Power Up Your Journal Writing With These Day One Tips Journal or diary writing is a great way to exercise and improve your writing skills, document what is going on in your life, and to stay in tune with your thoughts and feelings. Read More , Mail, Mailbox, Google+>, and Kindle ebooks.

The iPad mini is, of course, smaller and easier to carry around. I like using the iPad mini for typing journal entries in my Day One app, using the ZAGGkeys Cover external keyboard, and occasionally brainstorming ideas for articles.

Ipad notebook

Browsing Twitter, Google+, and reading email feels better on the iPad mini. I read ebooks on both the iPad mini and Air, but the size of each device does make a difference for different types of books. It’s similar to how paperback books are different in size; novels being smaller, and nonfiction larger. So the iPad mini works well for smaller sized formatted books which don’t include images or screenshots.


Sometimes because I use the iPad as a laptop, there are a few other features that come in handy. This includes Photo Stream which uses iCloud to share photos between all iCloud connected devices. I also use Cloud Clip Be More Productive With A Powerful Clipboard Manager [Mac] If you routinely copy and paste text and other items on your Mac and iOS devices, you will no doubt agree that Apple's default clipboard features are extremely lacking. Both the iOS and OS X... Read More for occasions when I need to share copied text between both iPads and my Mac. And nearly all the apps I use on both iPads sync and share data automatically, so there’s no problem switching between both devices and getting work done.

This makes owning and using two devices really quite easy, rather than a logistical nightmare of trying to wonder which data is where.

Am I A Sucker?

I admit that I still find it odd to own two iPads. It feels a little like overindulgence. If I had to let one go I guess it would be the iPad mini; mainly because the Air is easier on my eyes for reading, and the latter device could make for a better laptop replacement How To Make Your iPad a Laptop Replacement In an interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he no plans for developing an iPad that transforms into a laptop. But that certainly doesn't keep many iPad users from using the device as a notebook... Read More if need be.

What’s your take on owning two iPads? Do you prefer one over the other?

Related topics: iPad Air, iPad mini.

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  1. Divine
    April 29, 2014 at 1:24 am

    hi.. i'm having a hard time on choosing between ipad mini or ipad air.. i love watching movies, reading books and most of my time i stay at home (so u'll think ipad air fits me) but the other hand, when i go out like going to school, hanging out with friends.. i always bring a small bag with me coz i hate big bags.. and one more thing, i want to ask if ipad does hang.. coz i'm thinking whether an ipaf mini 32gb or ipad air 16gb with the same prize

    • Bakari Chavanu
      April 29, 2014 at 5:37 am

      Divine, sounds like you might want both the Air and the mini. I still use them both everyday, and I'm not sure if Apple can make a single format the will fit the needs of all users. And yes, I do recommend the 32gb, especially if you don't want to spend time clearing out stuff gain some more memory. Unfortunately both of my iPads are 16gigs.

  2. A.E.
    January 14, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    That makes sense. If you were female, as I am, you probably would have been out buying clothes over iPads. Mine was bought after years of saving. However, I was actually directing that question at FutureMedia as well, having 13 iOS devices. I know someone who took out a loan to buy a MacBook Air. But thanks for the reply anyway.

  3. A.E.
    January 14, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Ok. No offense, just want to know, where do you people get all this money to buy these devices???!!! Apple does not come cheap. Do you save up or what? I can't even afford decent earphones lol. (Wrote this from my iPad Air. It's portable enough for my taste, and practically is all in one.)

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      A.E., my iPad Air was paid with money I got from Target for my original iPad and the rest was based on savings. I keep a pretty tight budget, and at my age I don't buy clothes or go out to eat that much. But believe me, I'm not in the habit of buying Apple products on a regular basis. I try to hang on to what I buy for long as possible.

  4. FW
    January 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I have the iPad Air 64Gb T-Mobile and just recently purchase on eBay a iPad Mini 64Gb AT&T with AppleCare + for $399, so I now have both. My son works for T-Mobile and he gave me 2 data sims one for each iPad 12.5Gb data plan each. Both sims cost me less than $25.00 ($10 each plus tax) each month with his employee discount.
    I really don't need both but if I run low on data on one I just use the other. Plus I really couldn't pass up the deal on eBay.

  5. Anonymous
    December 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I can't stream my church services I just got this iPad air 16g. Suppose to do everything. Can't hold a video for the whole program really upsetting me. It will stop and go. Very frustrating. Guess I'm going to local apple store. Not a happy camper :(

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      How are you trying to stream video in your church services? Explain more.

  6. Ron Hanun
    December 26, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I bought a 32GB iPad Air on Black Friday for $437 (after $100 gift card). Amazing deal. I was so excited, as it was an upgrade from my iPad 3. However, I am confused after reading articles from people who switched from iPad to iPad mini as it was easier to take it anywhere. I use my iPad for surfing the net, check e-mails, read magazines and on rare occasions to watch movies while traveling. My kids use it for playing games. I was thinking I can take the mini everywhere and use it as my everyday iPad. In addition, it will feel like a new device. I have access to two deals on the mini; an iPad mini 32gb with retina for $453 (with tax) or a 16GB iPad mini first generation for $225. I went to the Apple store and liked the iPad air -specially because of the amazing deal I got-, buy yesterday, talking to a friend who has both, he said that he always uses the mini as the regular iPad is too big for carrying it around. So I am still undecided. Based on the aforementioned use, prices and characteristics, which one of the three devices would you recommend me to get? Any advantages/disadvantages between the black and white models? Thanks

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 27, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Ron, another reason I got the iPad Air was because I got a $200 gift certificate from Target for my original iPad. I used that money to buy the Air. All three iPads I've purchased have been 16GB. I use Dropbox to store a lot of stuff, and I regularly delete items on my iPads that I don't need. So 16 gigs is usually enough. If I traveled like used to, I probably would need a larger size iPad, but that's not the case.

      Also, I can't recommend one model over the other. It really depends on your needs and what feels most comfortable to you. You can always return the device if you don't like it, and trade it for a different model. Sorry I can't be of more help.

      Thanks for reading the article and providing your feedback.

  7. Manuth C
    December 23, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Already sold my mini cuz it's just damn redundant!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      Great. I agree. But now I would have difficulty letting one or other go. I still use them both, though I agree in some cases they're redundant.

  8. FutureMedia
    December 23, 2013 at 2:42 am

    I'm buying both ATT 128GB black models. Love the Air still have to wait another 10 days for my retina mini. Also just ordered my new Mac Pro but that won't get built and shipped til February or March. I did not buy the non-retina iPad mini. I think the retina mini will make using one or the other an even more confusing choice. But my reasoning is about how light the mini Retina will be to hold vs even the Air as light as it is already - 12oz naked vs maybe 18-20 oz with my Air's case. I am an iPad hog. I own each of the maximum capacity AT&T models including both the 64 & 128 GB 4th gens. I'm grandfathered in unlimited LTE service. And one can easily move the grandfathered account among as many iPads as you own. Time will tell if buying the iPad mini Retina in addition to the Air was a glutinous or practical decision. Of course I also own the 64GB AT&T Space a Grey iPhone 5S. Total of 13 iOS devices to date including 64GB 4th gen iPod touch plus iPod nano 6th gen.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 23, 2013 at 3:57 am

      Thanks for your feedback. I'm not too much sold on the retina display. With my poor eyes, I can hardly tell the difference between the two models. Based on your set up, it looks like you using your Mac and iOS hardware for professional reasons. That Mac Pro is no joke. $3000? I have an old Mac Pro sitting on my office floor that I bought during the time I did lots of wedding photography and videography. But now I think I'm going to wait another 3-5 years before I buy another Mac. Can't say how long I'll be able to hold onto the iPads. I know Apple has something up their sleeve to get people to upgrade in a year or two. And oh, I still have an iPod Classic in my car with my entire my iTunes library backed up on it. Still can't believe I have that much access to music when I'm driving.

  9. wintkat
    December 22, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Wondering if you are experiencing low memory crash issues?
    I am and so are many others

    Here's a link where I found our what was happening with my ipad air

    If I hadn't already given my ipad 2 to my sister I would return it

    Thanks for any thoughts

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 23, 2013 at 3:48 am

      You know, my iPad mini has crashed about three times lately, which is really odd for an iOS device. The Air has done okay so far. I need to make note of what I'm doing when the device crashes. Thanks for sharing your link.

  10. Dixie
    December 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I'm assuming you also own a phone and a laptop? Why need even one tablet? two is stupid.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      December 23, 2013 at 12:18 am

      Dixie, I was anticipating a response like yours as I wrote the article. I reiterate that my intention was not keep both versions of the iPad, but surprisingly I have find that each device, including my laptop, serves a unique purpose that warrants keeping them all.

      I don't use my iPhone or MacBook Air (the later of which I will probably not upgrade until it burns out) to read document because it's very difficult on my eyes. I mostly use the MacBook when I want to get writing done outside of my office or while sitting in bed.

      The iPad devices though are mainly for reading and entertainment devices. And yes, I could go without one of them, but I keep finding myself using them like how I used to use 3-ring binders and files of papers and documents. And the iPad Air is definitely easier to read magazines and PDFs on. So yeah, it feels awkward to have both devices, but it no longer feels "stupid." In many cases it feels practical.