iPad mini or iPad 4: What's the difference?

The Apple iPad mini is there for the taking, but then, so is the normal iPad. So, what’s the difference. Which iPad should you buy?

The answer to that question is going to be a personal one, so rather than try to tell you whether the iPad mini or the iPad 4 is the right one for you, here are the differences between the two so that you can decide for yourself.

The iPad mini has a smaller screen
You never guessed, right? For many though, the form factor is going to be the key point to this choice. Some people find the 9.7-inch iPad can be too much to hold for the length of a feature film, or too bulky to use for gaming comfortably and easily with two hands. For others, it’s a case of the iPad just being too big to fit into your bag or inside jacket pocket as you travel around in your day-to-day life.

On the other hand, none of those might be problems for you at all. In fact, having a tablet, for you, might be a simple case of getting as much Retina Display as you can possibly feast your eyes upon. Just ask yourself what it is you really want your iPad for.

The iPad mini is cheaper
If the form factor wasn’t crucial to your decision, then the price has got to be. One of the more compelling reasons for Apple to come up with the iPad mini has been to dip its wick into the 7-inch tablet market which is starting to take off, thanks to the Android-running Nexus 7 and other machines like it. The key, of course, as well as the size, has been that rather than starting at £399 with the iPad 4, the iPad mini costs £269 for the entry 16GB, Wi-Fi-only model, and suddenly that catapults tablets from the quite pricey to the pretty affordable.

The iPad mini has no Retina Display
There’s a reason why the iPad mini is significantly cheaper than the iPad 4 and that’s because it doesn’t have a Retina Display. At 1024 x 768, the iPad mini has the same screen resolution as the original iPad. The result is a pixel density of 163ppi and that’s around half the glory you get with the iPad 4.

The iPad mini is lighter and thinner
The iPad mini isn’t just a shrunken down iPad, as Apple was proud to tell us all at the press conference. The entire chassis has been redesigned and machined, and the result is that it’s not just lighter than the iPad 4 - as one would expect - but it’s thinner, too. So, that’s a 308g tablet that’s 7.2mm thick rather than a 652g tablet that’s 9.44mm thick. That makes the iPad mini 23 per cent thinner and 58 per cent lighter - as thin as a pencil and as light as a pad of paper, according to Apple’s stationery inventory.

The iPad mini has a less powerful processor
Whether it’s about having fewer pixels to push or just a question of making it affordable is unclear, but the fact of the matter is that the iPad mini has a less-powerful processor than the iPad 4. While the latter comes with the upgraded Apple A6X CPU - the fastest Apple SoC on the block right now - the iPad mini comes limping in with a plain, old Apple A5: that’s the same chip as found in the iPhone 4S.

The iPad mini uses a nano-SIM
You might want to pay some attention to this depending upon what kind of phone you use. If you were hoping to switch your mobile’s SIM in and out of a 4G iPad mini, then you should probably know that it takes a nano-SIM rather than a micro-SIM. That’s a match for those sporting an iPhone 5 but not much else. The iPad 4 uses a micro-SIM.

iPad mini release date and specifications

iPad mini pictures and hands-on