iPad Mini With Retina Display – The iPad Air Killer?

Apple iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina

Apple’s iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina

As impressive as the announcement regarding the iPad Air were today at Apple’s press conference, the iPad Mini With Retina Display was actually a bit more surprising. Many people were probably disappointed by the fact that it is going to cost a good deal more than the original iPad Mini ($399 versus $329) and that the iPad Air is much smaller and far more lighter than the iPad with Retina it replaces. Even with these two big things, I think that the iPad Mini with Retina is going to be far more popular than the larger Air. Let’s take a closer look as to why this may be…

Comparing the iPad Air and iPad Mini With Retina

To get a better picture of why I think the iPad Mini with Retina is going to win out, let us look at the details as presented by Apple on the two:

iPad Air iPad Mini With Retina
Processor A7 64-bit w/M7 A7 64-bit w/M7
Display 9.7″ 2048×1536 7.9″ 2048×1536
Front Camera 1.2MP Facetime HD 1.2MP Facetime HD
Rear Camera 5MP 5MP
Wireless 802.11a/g/n + Bluetooth 4 802.11a/g/n + Bluetooth 4
Battery Life 10 hours 10 Hours
Battery Capacity 32.4 WHr 23.8 WHr
Height 9.4 inches 7.87 inches
Width 6.6 inches 5.3 inches
Depth .29 inches .29 inches
Weight 1 pound (469g) .73 pounds (331g)
Price $499 (16GB)
$599 (32GB)
$699 (64GB)
$399 (16GB)
$499 (32GB)
$599 (64GB)

Looking at these specifications, it appears on that the iPad Mini with Retina should offer the same rough features as the iPad Air. They both use the same processor, same display resolution, same cameras and even the same wireless capabilities. The main difference appears to be in the size and weight of the tablets. In both cases, the iPad Mini is smaller and lighter than the iPad Air. Even with this, the iPad Mini is claimed to have the same battery life even though it has a smaller battery. If all of these hold true and the price at each capacity for the iPad Mini with Retina is $100 less than the iPad Air, why would anyone opt for the iPad Air?

The Unknowns

One key specification is missing on the chart above and it plays a key role in the battery life and performance of the tablets. While both the iPad Air and iPad Mini With Retina use the same A7 processor, we do not know at what speeds that processor will be running in each tablet. It could very well be that the iPad Air runs its processor at a higher clock speed that results in better overall performance while the iPad Mini with Retina uses a lower clock speed in order to consume less battery life. This could be a huge factor in terms of using some of the applications such as high end games or the demanding iMovie and iPhoto applications that could benefit from the added speed.

Size Does Matter

For many people the smaller and lighter tablet is likely going be important but for some people the display size may matter more. While both screens have the same resolution, the iPad Air with its larger screen offers larger default text, icons and images than the iPad Mini with Retina. This can be a huge benefit for those that may not have the best eyesight. This can end up being a much bigger factor than the size, weight and even price issues for some buyers.


The big issue that many people are likely going to have in choosing to get the iPad Air or iPad Mini with Retina may very well come down to whether you can find one or not. The iPad Air is set to be available for purchase on November 1st while the iPad Mini with Retina Display is going to be released in November with no specific date for availability. There have been many rumors on the supply restrictions for the retina displays for the new iPad Mini causing shortages such that some media outlets did not expect it to be released until 2014. IF people can’t find the iPad Mini with Retina Display tablets, many will likely opt to go with the more expensive iPad Air especially if it is planned on being a holiday gift.

Price is Key to Most Consumers

Of course in the consumer market, price is ultimately the main thing that most people use when deciding what to buy. Apple has been able to deal with this thanks to their perceived value when it comes to fending off the Android tablets. The problem is that Apple is now competing against itself by making the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina so similar in features. Given a choice between these two, most people are going to choose based on price and not on other perceived features.

I myself am looking to replace my first generation iPad with a new model and it will probably be the iPad Mini with Retina Display. My choice is many due to the size but it also helps that the features are so similar to the iPad Air and the fact that the price is $100 less. Of course, that may change once I get some good hands on time between the two models.