Should you upgrade to the new iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina if you already have an old one?
Apple has unveiled two new tablets yesterday, just as we all expected. First came the new iPad Air, a noticeably thinner and lighter 9.7-inch tablet than all previous iPads, and it was the main focus of the event. However, next came the iPad mini with Retina display, Cupertino’s second generation iPad mini, and it received not just a sharp display but also top of the line specs matching those of the iPad Air. The latter was a surprise - now we basically have two iPads with nearly identical under the hood powers courtesy of the Apple A7 chip. They now differ mostly in size.
While the discrepancies between the new iPads have gotten smaller, the gap between the new and old Apple tablets has grown larger. Many of you might be asking yourselves - is it worth getting the new iPads if I have an older one? The answer really depends, but if you are using your iPads a lot it will most likely be a resounding ‘yes.’ Here is why.
Should you upgrade to the iPad Air?
With the iPad Air, Apple highlights the better ergonomics. You can actually now hold the device with one hand and it’s much lighter weighing just 1 pound - a whopping 28% difference compared to the previous generation tablet. It has gotten 20% thinner as well. For casual users this difference might not be hugely important. However if you are reading a lot on your tablet and carrying around with you all the time, this change will definitely be felt. That’s why we are saying that those who use their tablets a lot - in contrast to people who only casually use it - will definitely appreciate the upgrade a lot.
We have a separate article showing all the tiny differences between the new iPad Air and the earlier generations, and you can check for yourselves what are the differences in our specs comparison between the iPad Air, iPad 4 and iPad 2 here.
In terms of hardware, design and features, we are now quickly summarizing the main differences between older iPads and the new one:
for original iPad (2010 edition) owners upgrading to iPad Air
- you get a gigantic 8x performance gain
- huge bump in resolution to ‘Retina’
- both a rear and front camera
- a lighter, much thinner device
for iPad 2 owners upgrading to iPad Air
- you get a big performance gain
- huge bump in resolution to ‘Retina’
- much improved cameras
- a lighter and slightly thinner device
for iPad 3/4 owners upgrading to iPad Air
- you get a slight but noticeable performance improvements
- lighter and slightly thinner device
Should you upgrade to the iPad mini with Retina?
Next, question remains whether an upgrade to the new iPad mini with Retina makes sense for those who own the original iPad mini. The situation here is a bit different - Apple announced that the second generation iPad mini with its sharper display will actually cost more, starting from $399 for the basic version.
However the changes Apple enacts in this new tablet seem even bigger than what we had with the iPad Air. The mini with Retina not only adds a new screen, but also gets the latest Apple A7 system chip, the most powerful one the company has. While the first iPad mini was underpowered and definitely struggled under heavy loads by apps like iPhoto, the new iPad mini with Retina will handle itself much better in such situations.
Quite honestly, the Retina display is a good enough reason alone for upgrading. It makes using the device so much easier, but the added processing power is one more reason to consider it.
All in all, we consider the new iPad mini a very solid upgrade that's definitely worth a look.
What about Android or Windows tablets?
While for a user drenched in the Apple ecosystem we are fairly certain upgrading to the new iPads is worthit, different platforms have grown tremendously. If you can live with fewer tablet-optimized applications, Android gives the iPad mini with Retina display a run for its money with the Nexus 7 2013 edition. The 7 incher has a razor sharp display that is one of the best we have ever seen on a tablet and it does not lack in performance. Its biggest advantage is its stellar price - you can almost buy two Nexus 7 for the price of one iPad mini second-gen!
Microsoft has also done a great job with its new Surface 2 tablet and it is a device that has gotten rid of the annoying Windows RT lag and has improved in almost every aspect. If typing and being productive is possible but not very convenient on an iPad, on the new Surface you can easily write a novel with its great snap-on keyboards. The starting price for the 10.6" Microsoft Surface 2 is a lower than the iPad $449, and it's definitely worth a look.
With the new iPads, Apple changes its tablet portfolio significantly. The iPad mini no longer looks like the underpowered little brother - it’s still the smaller tablet, but now it matches the iPad Air in its performance power. The new iPad Air on the other hand has grown significantly smaller and more convenient for daily use.
All in all, the difference between Apple’s iPad Air and the new iPad mini with Retina is now only in their size. So which one do you prefer?