iPad mini with Retina display vs iPad Air: Which should you pick?

By Britta O'Boyle | Small Business

Apple added to its iPad family last month with the launch of the iPad Air, the company's thinnest and lightest 9.7-inch model, and the iPad mini with Retina display.

They may have different display sizes, but in terms of style and specs, these two models are very similar, so which one should you choose? It’s a decision many will be agonising over this Christmas so we’ve put together a handy head-to-head guide to help you choose.

Measurements and colours

The iPad Air sports a 9.7-inch display just like the previous generation iPad, but it has become 28 per cent lighter and 20 per cent thinner. You will also see a dramatically reduced bezel and a design that looks very similar to the iPad mini.

In terms of physical measurements, the iPad Air comes in at 240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm, and the Wi-Fi model hits the scales at 469g.

The iPad mini with Retina display retains the same design as its predecessor, with a display of 7.9-inches. It measures 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm and weighs 331g.

Both models come in two colour options - space grey and black or silver and white.

Processor and battery life

Although it was originally thought the iPad mini with Retina display would come with reduced specs in comparison to its older brother, this didn't turn out to be the case.

Both models come with the 64-bit A7 processor, which debuted on the iPhone 5S. Compared to the previous generation, Apple claims it has twice the CPU and graphics performance on the iPad Air and up to four times the CPU and eight times the graphic performance on the iPad mini with Retina display.

In terms of battery and storage options, both come with up to 10-hours life and 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB so no help making the decision here.

Camera and display

You'll find a 5-megapixel rear camera on both the iPad mini with Retina display and iPad Air, as well as a FaceTime HD front facing camera so you'll get the same quality snaps from whichever you choose.

In addition, as the name suggests, Apple introduced the much-awaited Retina display to the iPad mini, giving it a display resolution of 2048 x 1536, which matches the iPad Air.

However, as the iPad mini with Retina display is smaller, these pixels have been packed in tighter, giving you a pixel density of 326ppi compared to the iPad Air, which offers 264ppi.

Therefore, the iPad mini with Retina display will produce a sharper, finer and more detailed image than the larger model.


The iPad Air will offer you a bigger display, while the iPad mini with Retina display gives you a sharper image.

When it boils down to the specs though, there is very little difference in the two models, making a decision between these two products difficult, especially as they now look the same.

The iPad Air is of course more expensive, starting at £399, compared to the iPad mini with Retina display, which will cost you from £319.

But ultimately, for someone who travels, we think the iPad mini with Retina display is the best choice, as it is lighter and smaller to carry around. For a tablet to watch films or play games at home, the iPad Air is a fantastic option.

If price is more of a concern and you aren't keen on going over the £300 mark for a present to yourself, or someone else this Christmas, there some other great options in the tablet world such as the Nexus 7 (£199) or the Tesco Hudl (£119).

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