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Apple iPad Mini Vs. iPad 4: Which To Buy

Apple stunned by announcing a fourth-generation Retina Display iPad along with the iPad Mini. No mere refresh, the iPad 4 sports significantly improved specs.

You know the amazing third-generation iPad with the Retina Display? It's gone. Apple replaced it Tuesday, a little more than six months after launching it, with a significantly updated model.

The iPad 4 uses the same chassis and overall design of its immediate predecessor, but makes a lot of changes under the hood. The Retina Display is the same, the software is the same, and the dimensions/weight are the same.

Looking at the differences, it has an A6X processor, which Apple claims is twice as fast as the outgoing model's A5X chip. The iPad 4 has new Wi-Fi radios, which Apple also claims are twice as fast as the outgoing model's. It supports dual-band 802.11n (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) in addition to 802.11a/b/g. It is compatible with Sprint's LTE network, where the outgoing model was only available for AT&T and Verizon. The iPad 4 loses the 30-pin port for the Lightning port. The FaceTime camera has also been improved.

Pricing for the new iPad 4 is the same as the outgoing iPad, starting at $499 for the 16-GB version. In case you're curious, Apple still sells the iPad 2 (no Retina Display) starting at $399, giving Apple tablets with prices at $329 (new iPad Mini), $399 (iPad 2), and $499 (iPad 4) for the base models. That's not a bad spread to have.

[ Apple unveiled a host of new products Tuesday. See Apple Reveals iPad Mini, New Macs. ]

The iPad 4, however, makes choosing between the larger iPad and the iPad Mini even more difficult than it was before. Here are the key points to consider.

Display -- The iPad Mini's display measures 7.9 inches and has 1024 x 768 pixels, giving it a PPI of 163. The iPad 4's display measures 9.7 inches and has 2048 x 1436 pixels and a PPI of 264. That's a significant difference in quality between the two.

Size/Weight -- The iPad Mini measures 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.28 inches and weighs 0.68 pounds. The iPad 4 measures 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37 inches and weighs 1.44 pounds. Clearly, the iPad Mini will be easier to hold and use with its smaller, thinner, lighter design.

A5 versus A6X -- Without benchmarks or clock speeds it is difficult to compare the performance of the processors, but the fact remains that the iPad Mini uses an older A5 processor and the iPad 4 uses the brand new A6X processor that is twice as fast as the outgoing model's A5X processor.

Pricing -- The pricing is one of the biggest differentiators. The entry-level iPad Mini starts at $329 and the entry-level iPad 4 starts at $499. That $170 is a big gulf, bridged only by the presence of the $399 iPad 2. Spend less money to get the smaller, less-spec-rich iPad or spend more to get the top-of-the-line hardware.

Moot -- Options that are identical between the iPad Mini and iPad 4 include storage options, LTE 4G options, platform/software, Lightning port, and FaceTime/iSight cameras.

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User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2012 | 10:33:24 AM
re: Apple iPad Mini Vs. iPad 4: Which To Buy
Just when you think of all the other tabs in the market, Apple comes up with two reasons not to jump on the Android bandwagon.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/5/2012 | 9:58:17 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini Vs. iPad 4: Which To Buy
In full disclosure, I work for a company called Protect Your Bubble.

New to the US earlier this year, Protect Your Bubble is one of the top insurers of mobile devices worldwide. We are excited about the iPad 4 and iPad Mini and wanted to contribute to the conversation.

Whichever device you choose, consumers should consider tablet insurance. As the holidays draw near, these items will likely be hot items for thieves. Not only do we insure against damage, but also against loss and theft which are major reasons to protect your device. For Protect Your Bubble, Loss and Theft make up 75% of all of our claims. Better safe than sorry.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/25/2012 | 11:25:14 AM
re: Apple iPad Mini Vs. iPad 4: Which To Buy
The A5 will not be as quick as the A6X, there is no doubt there. But please keep in mind that the "Twice as fast" generally relates to graphics and multitasking. With the huge high density screen the iPad 4 has, in conjunction with the huge amounts of data people store on them will make the A6X under perform in the device. On the other hand, the A5 ran, and still does run extremely well on the iPad 2, however that also had a much bigger screen. I believe, out of personal opinion that the iPad Mini will not suffer from being underpowered, rather Apple has made the decision to use A5 chips as a power saver and a modest choice in horsepower for their new device.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2012 | 1:52:06 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini Vs. iPad 4: Which To Buy
Somehow this iPad Mini advance has been overlooked.

"With advanced Wi-Fi thatGÇÖs up to twice as fast as any previous-generation iPad.."
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2012 | 1:35:00 PM
re: Apple iPad Mini Vs. iPad 4: Which To Buy
What is needed is a USB port, a way to interface with the world without iTunes. With such a port, these devices would be a 9.9. Without them, they are a nifty 5, without a chance to get better...
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