iPad Mini vs iPad 4 Review: How They Stack Up

This holiday, you may have considered getting your tech-savvy family member or that special someone the well-known Apple product that has flown off shelves since its introduction in 2010 – the iPad.

As many commercials and magazine ads suggest, the iPad can be the perfect gift for almost anyone — young or old. Choosing an iPad was once a simple choice for most–pick between white or black; choose the 16, 32 or 64 GB models; spring for a reduced-price iPad 2 or the iPad with Retina display? However, choosing the perfect one this year may prove to be a feat. This is due to the introduction of the iPad Mini and the newly updated iPad 4 to Apple’s famous line of tablets. Both of these additions were officially announced in late October at the Apple Special Event, alongside a thinner iMac and a new 13 inch Macbook Pro with Retina display.

It is suggested that Apple introduced the new 7.9 inch tablet in to compete with the increasing number of e-readers on the market and to appeal to those female consumers with smaller hands. By producing a smaller tablet, Apple is sure to keep their competitors on their toes, much to the dismay of the creators of the Google Nexus 7, the Nook HD, and the Amazon Fire. Despite this new addition, the iPad with Retina display is still flying off the shelves, plus you still have the option of purchasing the older iPad 2.

So, in love with the Apple brand, but conflicted about which iPad to invest in? Hopefully, this short guide will help you along in the quest to find the perfect tablet.

iPad Mini

If you're searching for a gift for the gamer or bookworm in your life, you may want to invest in this hip, smaller clone of the iPad. As demonstrated by Scott Stein in his CNET review of the Mini, playing games that require the work of both hands are slightly less awkward on the iPad Mini. The weight of the new tablet — just .69 lbs — allows for longer play or reading time without the risk of straining your hand. The smaller size and weight may also be friendlier for those younger gadgeteers, and with the price tag starting at just $329 for the 16GB model, it’s friendlier to your wallet as well.

A concern of some is that the Mini has a poor resolution without the snazzy Retina display, however, because the tablet has a smaller screen, it is not as noticeable as one may think. This resolution probably won’t matter much to those keeping their head in a book...well, I guess, glued to the screen, and your eyes more than likely won’t perceive any blurry graphics while playing a video game.

iPad 4 with Retina display: Weighing in at 1.44 lbs, this iPad is a little more hefty than the sleek Mini. It is harder to hold in just one hand, and therefore not a good choice for those looking for a reading device or for a frequent gaming device (unless you plan to invest in a set of stress-relieving gloves).

With this tablet, Apple has satisfied its veteran tablet-lovers, upping the game with a beautiful new display and a faster A6X processor chip. This means faster juggling of apps and the system speed will rarely demonstrate lags. This isn’t the only major change apparent with the new iPad. No longer does Apple sell their iPads with the classic 30-pin connector, replacing it with a new Lightening charger. This means that any Apple accessories you may have owned previously will need an adapter to work with the new port, essentially upping your costs of owning this tablet immediately.

Despite some general concerns, it is clear that this iPad packs the most bang for your buck. Starting at just $499 for the 16GB version, this is most powerful tablet Apple has offered for such a low price.                                     

iPad 2: I personally own one of these babies. While some critics complain that it is a slower, less powerful tablet, I don’t mind the speed at which I am able to complete tasks. Though it is equipped with Apple’s dual-core A5 processor, I can still blast music while switching back and forth between surfing the web and reading a magazine app without any hiccups. With a starting price of $399, it’s a bargain for those looking for an introduction to the full-sized tablet market. What about the Retina display and the lack of sassy Siri, you ask? I find that since I was never previously exposed to these features, I don’t notice the lack of amenities. Bottom line: If you are a newcomer to the world of tablets, stuck on the idea of having an Apple tablet, and don’t want to break the bank, the iPad 2 is your best option.

Whatever choice you may make this season, just remember that any tablet from the iPad family is still in high demand, as demonstrated by numerous heists and thefts committed across the country and the amazing App Store.

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Devin Ross

Devin is a recent graduate of Grinnell College, and current Editorial Intern at Madison Magazine. She enjoys writing about popular culture, technology, and media. In her spare time, Devin is known to bake up a storm, wear layers of knits, and read lots of Calvin and Hobbes.

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