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iPad mini with Retina Display vs. iPad mini


October 24, 2013

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new iPad mini with Retina Display (left) and...

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new iPad mini with Retina Display (left) and the original (non-Retina) iPad mini

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If you already own an iPad mini, is it worth upgrading to the new model with Retina Display? Or maybe you're considering buying your first iPad mini, and are wondering if it's worth saving a few bucks on last year's model? Let Gizmag help, as we plop the first two generations of the iPad mini into our magical comparison machine, and see what happens.

Release date

The Retina model is releasing about a year after the first iPad mini arrived

The Retina Display iPad mini launches sometime in November. The original model hit stores last November, and is sticking around for another year.


The Retina iPad mini is four percent thicker than its predecessor

Nothing shocking here. Though it is worth noting that the Retina iPad mini is a little thicker. That's the same thing that happened to the full-sized iPad when it got a Retina Display.


The first iPad mini is actually seven percent lighter than the new Retina model

Not a great start for the Retina model, as it's also a bit heavier compared to the original iPad mini. Seven percent heavier, to be exact.


Apple still likes aluminum

Same aluminum build in both models.


Colors are now the same, though the first iPad mini was originally sold in a 'black & slat...

The Retina iPad mini gets the same Space Gray color from the iPhone 5s, and Apple updated the original model with the new hue as well. If you bought a first-generation iPad mini before the new models were announced, then you might have the "black & slate" color instead.


Same size, but much sharper screen on the new model

Same 7.9-inch display size for the new model, but the big news is its shift to a Retina Display. It has four times the pixels of the original model, making for a much denser screen. Expect razor-sharp text and crisp, clear images.


Performance should see a big boost in the Retina iPad mini

Performance should be another huge upgrade in the Retina iPad mini. Its 64-bit A7 chip is two generations ahead of the old A5 (originally found in 2011's iPad 2) in the non-Retina iPad mini.


We don't know for sure, but we're betting on 1 GB for the Retina iPad mini

We don't yet know how much RAM the Retina iPad mini has, but we'd bet on 1 GB. The mere 512 MB found in the 1st-gen version just barely cuts it. Backgrounded apps and browser tabs will need to refresh more often than they do on devices with more RAM.


Apple discontinued all but the 16 GB version of the original iPad mini

The first mini was originally available in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models, but now that it's sticking around for a second year, it's only sold in a 16 GB flavor.


Camera resolution stayed the same in the new model

Same resolution in the cameras this time around, but Apple did boast of some upgraded sensors in the new batch of iPads.


Apple estimates the same ten hours of uptime (surfing the web on Wi-Fi) for both models

Above are the watt hours for the batteries. If you're more concerned with uptimes, then Apple is estimating that the Retina version will last the same ten hours (while surfing the web on Wi-Fi).


Both tablets are available in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with cellular data models

Both models are sold in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with LTE versions. The cellular models cost an extra US$130 over their Wi-Fi only counterparts with the same amount of storage.


Both models run the new iOS 7

Both iPad minis run the new iOS 7, with the App Store's stacked selection of tablet apps.

Starting prices

The Retina iPad mini starts at US$400, while the non-Retina model dropped down to $300

Apple actually jacked the Retina model's price up by $70, hitting the $400 price point for 16 GB Wi-Fi only. It then shoots all the way up to $830 for a 128 GB cellular model.

On announcing the new iPad mini, Apple also dropped the first-generation model's price down to $300.


If the Retina iPad mini had stayed at $330, this would have been a no-brainer. Not only does it have a much sharper screen, but its performance will be head and shoulders above last year's model.

But at $400, the Retina mini is now inching closer to Apple's new full-sized iPad, the iPad Air. With that added to the non-Retina model's price drop, we can see some customers preferring to save a few bucks and live with the lower-resolution screen.

On the flip side, the new iPad mini's specs are pretty much toe-to-toe with the iPad Air, so you're getting a much more powerful tablet than you did last year. It even has a sharper display than the iPad Air, owing to the same amount of pixels scrunched onto the smaller screen.

For more on the new iPads, you can read our first impressions of the iPad Air, see how the Retina iPad mini compares to the iPad Air, and you can also check out the iPad Air vs. the older 9.7-inch iPads.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin

All mobile devices intended to be used outdoors in sunlight need to also be reviewed on their sunlight readability. If a screen is black in sunlight then the expensive device is little more than an expensive door stop.

Please when reviewing these toys, always always, test them in sunlight.

25th October, 2013 @ 05:21 am PDT

I'm perhaps not an Apple fanboy, but I must say that the iPad remains to this day one of the few tablets that REALLY satisfied, as much for its ergonomics and for its use!

26th October, 2013 @ 04:53 am PDT

I have never considered my iPad to be a device that's intended to be used outdoors in sunlight and it's not at all a concern of mine. Just because my iPad is not great outdoors does not make it an "expensive door stop." Sounds like a bit of an overreaction if you asked me. If you're planning on doing a lot of reading outdoors, then perhaps the Kindle is more for you.

Steven Williams
28th October, 2013 @ 11:04 am PDT
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