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The iPad 4 vs the iPad Mini

A Showdown Between Apple's Two Newest iPads

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iPad Mini

The iPad Mini. Photo © Apple, Inc.

Now that Apple has introduced the iPad Mini, picking out the right model has become that much more difficult. Much like the full-sized iPad, the iPad Mini comes in two distinct flavors (4G and Wi-Fi only) with three storage options (16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB) and two different colors (black and white). This means choosing an iPad comes down to choosing between twelve different models, not including the color choice. And that also excludes the iPad 2, which will remain in production.

So which should you choose? The newest 9.7-inch iPad or the newly introduced 7.9-inch iPad Mini?

How to Buy a Cheap iPad

iPad Mini Advantages

  • It's cheaper. The number one reason to go with an iPad Mini is savings. Apple's newest iPad starts at $329, which is $170 in savings or about one-third off the price. And for those who are willing to wait long enough for some refurbished models to hit Apple's store, the price could go as low as $299. For those who want an iPad but feel the price is just a little too high, the iPad Mini is a good choice.
  • It's smaller. While the full-sized iPad's size gives it a distinct advantage, there are also advantages for being smaller. The iPad Mini is more mobile than the 9.7-inch iPad, easily fitting into a purse or the side pocket of a backpack. It is also easier to manipulate the iPad Mini with one hand. And if you really want to see the iPad on a bigger display, you can always hook the iPad Mini up to your HDTV.
  • It's an iPad. Don't let the smaller size fool you. While the iPad Mini doesn't have the Retina Display of its big brother and doesn't have the fast processor, it still delivers the iPad experience. That includes running every single iPad app on the App Store, many of which will run as good on the iPad Mini as the full-sized iPad. And after all, it is the apps that make an iPad an iPad. Furthermore, the iPad Mini even has access to Siri, Apple's "intelligent assistant."

The Best Uses for the iPad

iPad 4 Advantages

  • Bigger, faster, stronger. What do you get with that extra $170? How about a 9.7-inch "Retina Display" that has a sharper resolution than a 1080p HDTV? How about twice the processor power and more than four times the graphics power? Of course, it needs some horsepower to feed that Retina Display. Overall, the iPad 4 is a much stronger tablet, able to do more heavy lifting. This doesn't mean the iPad Mini is a slouch, but in a pure performance test, the iPad 4 easily wins.
  • Better for productivity. A smaller display is fine for many tasks, including watching movies, reading books or playing games. Where the larger iPad will really shine is in getting some stuff done. Whether you are working in a custom web-based environment or using productivity software like Pages or Numbers, the extra screen space is going to equate to more elbow room to get your work done.
  • Better photo/video manipulation. Perhaps even more than using productivity software, the bigger display really helps out if you are planning to do a lot of photo or video editing with the iPad. And this is where the Retina Display can really shine, allowing you to work with higher resolution photos.
  • Better at web browsing. Make no mistake, the iPad Mini won't be bad at web browsing. But the 9.7-inch display on the iPad 4 is just about perfect for getting a comfortable visual of web pages. Most of the time, you won't need to zoom into an area to read the text and you can see most of the page without scrolling. On the iPad Mini, you'll still see a lot of the page, but may need to zoom in at times to read the text.

How Much Memory Do You Need on an iPad?

iPad Mini vs iPad 4: The Winner?

There is no clear perfect choice when picking out the right iPad. For many people, the iPad Mini will do everything they need an iPad to do and they will barely even notice the difference between the two tablets. For others, the bigger screen, sharper graphics and faster processor will make all the difference in the world.

The iPad Mini will be great for those who want an iPad they can take with them everywhere they go, who prefer casual games to hardcore games, who want to browse the web and do some work but will find most of their time spent watching movies, reading books and listening to music. And, of course, it is perfect for those who want to make the leap to the iPad but don't want to pay $499 for the cheapest iPad 4 model.

The iPad 4 is great for those who want to replace most of what they do on their laptop with their iPad. While it is the perfect home device, it is still quite mobile, and it has the power to satisfy both the user who wants to get a lot of work done and the owner who is into some of the more hardcore gaming offered on the iPad. And with the high-resolution Retina Display, the iPad 4 is much better for those who may have more difficult reading the smaller text on an iPad Mini.

A Buyer's Guide to the iPad

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