Apple iPad 4 or iPad mini?

The Apple iPad mini was released on October 23rd ,2012 which is roughly 2 and a half years and three generations after the original Apple iPad that was announced on January 27, 2010. What’s special with the iPad mini is that Apple were vehemently denying the need for a smaller iPad, but as they always do, they caved in and then came the iPad mini. But there is always this confusion and a identity crisis associated with a new product, the iPad had it, and naturally, the iPad mini too. Indirectly acknowledging the fact that there is a market for smaller and cheaper iPads, Apple took a risk of cannibalising their own products which include the iPod touch and the original iPad, or did they? With that said, here starts the confusion of which iPad to get and why. We are here to help with that, and answer lies in the video embedded below and the text past the break.


The original iPad was highly criticised for a first generation product, but it swiftly crept its way up to becoming the juggernaut it is, today. When it was introduced, it was a disruption and a lot of people had asked “why the iPad?” but still bought it in tons and it only exponentially increased with the subsequent generations, now upto the iPad 4. But now that the market is a bit mature than it was a couple of years back, people have somewhat stopped questioning the use of a tablet, and are willingly taking in new options too. The iPad mini is an effort to offer choices to the consumers, now that they are willing.

There are a lot of similarities and differences between the iPad 4 and the iPad mini. Basic differences being the size, display, design and use cases. But lets talk about the similarities first. Both the devices run on the same software, which is iOS 6.1. And with respect to hardware, both the devices have the standard Apple premium build and ports, including the new lightning port that replaces the old 30 pin connector that was traditionally used in all portable Apple devices since the iPod. The iPad mini has more similarities to the iPad 2 in the internal hardware space, which includes the display resolution, the A5 chip and the amount of RAM being 512MB. Otherwise, the iPad mini is pretty much different in all other aspects.

Lets talk about the major differences between the iPad 4 and the iPad mini then. First being the size. The iPad 4 has a bigger display that measures 9.7 inches in diagonal but not only that, the bezel on the iPad 4 is huge compared to the iPad mini. This picture below might help in actually seeing the difference.

So, as you can see, the iPad is much bigger and hence pretty uncomfortable to hold in one hand, and that’s not just because of the size, it’s because of the other dimensions too. The iPad mini has thinner bezels on the sides when held in portrait, allowing you a bit of an uncomfortable one handed usage, and great ergonomics in the landscape orientation. Also, the iPad mini is extremely thin at 7.2mm and weighs just 308g for the WiFi version, while the iPad 4 weighs double but is only slightly bigger, so the iPad mini feels very light and the iPad 4 feels really heavy, but both feel very thin in the hands. The build is quite different between the two, with the iPad mini using some of the design changes with the iPhone 5, like the chamfered edges and similar matte aluminium build that looks not as sharp, but still looks boxy with less curved edges. The iPad on the other hand is very similar to the iPad 2, and has only changed to accomodate the new lightning port. Other than that, the design and build remain the same.

The display is considered a concern when people compare the iPad with a retina display to the iPad mini’s normal 1024×768 display. It is a concern only when you are looking at using the tablet for extensive reading, otherwise it’s just fine and it’s much better than the one on the iPad 2, as it has the same resolution but smaller. So, if you were ok with the iPad 2 display, you will be totally fine with the iPad mini too, but do note that Apple is bound to release an updated version of the iPad mini with a retina display. So if you’re still holding out, you can get the upgraded version of the iPad mini.

In terms of use cases, the iPad mini is just a smaller iPad that works just like the iPad 4 with all the apps you can imagine. No constraints are imposed and the performance is always upto the mark thanks to the lower resolution display on the iPad mini. It has a A5 chip with a dual core 1.2 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM, while the iPad 4 is much more powerful with a A6x chip, a custom Apple design with Power VR SGX554MP4, a new state of the art graphics chip that drives the retina display on the iPad 4. But fear not, the A5 is just about adequate for the iPad mini, but it is another thing that will get an update in the subsequent version. Back to the use cases, you might want the iPad mini if you want a more portable solution, which is cheaper and can do anything the iPad can do, but the bigger iPad might be your choice if you are looking at a more pleasurable reading experience, a more indulging app experience with productivity apps requiring precise input. But otherwise, the iPad mini can do as much, and it will fit best with a casual lifestyle, for which most iPads are bought.

So, in the end, which iPad is the better? Depends on your use case, for the reasons stated above. For more in-depth comparison, you might want to watch the video embedded above, in which we have completely discussed all the points that are necessary for the iPad – iPad mini comparison.

Author: Bharadwaj Chandramouli

Bharadwaj is a content creator who has been obsessed with technology since the early days of smartphones. He loves talking about tech, is a fan of good design and photography. You can follow him on Twitter @gadgetbuff_ to know what he's upto!