The Difference Between the iPad Air and the iPad Mini 2

Which is Apple's best tablet?

Apple Unveils New iPad Models
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The original iPad Mini was underpowered compared to its 9.7-inch bigger brother, but Apple's "Mini" line of tablets grew up with the iPad Mini 2. In fact, while the iPad Mini 2 may not be as powerful as the iPad Air, it's close enough that most people won't even notice the difference in speed. And the Mini 2 has the same features as the Air, including a great camera and a high-resolution "Retina" display. 

iPad Mini 2 Advantages

  • The price. The iPad Mini 2 was Apple's new entry-level iPad, which makes it the cheapest iPad you can buy new straight from Apple. If you are willing to go with a refurbished unit, you can get it for even cheaper.
  • Availability. Perhaps the chief advantage of the iPad Mini 2 over the original iPad Air is the ability to find one in stores or online. If you are buying a used iPad through eBay, Craigslist or another avenue, the iPad Air may be easier to find, but it is no longer available in most stores. The Mini 2, on the other hand, is still available, though largely replaced by the newer Mini 3.
  • The A7 under the hood. Both the iPad Air and the iPad Mini 2 have an A7 processor, which is a big upgrade from the original iPad Mini. The original shared the same processor as the iPad 2, making it significantly slower than the full-sized iPad. The iPad Mini 2 is almost the equal of the iPad Air.
  • The best screen resolution on an iPad. The inclusion of the same 2048x1536 resolution as the iPad Mini 2 means the Mini just out-Retina'd the iPad Air. The same resolution on the smaller screen gives the iPad Mini 326 pixels per inch (PPI). This means it has a screen image than the iPad Air, which only has 264 PPI.
  • It's smaller. This one is both an advantage and a disadvantage. We were wary of the smaller screen size when the original iPad Mini arrived, having owned other 7-inch tablets and found them lacking. But the iPad Mini is bigger than most 7-inch tablets, and it shows. For web browsing, reading eBooks and most casual use, the iPad Mini is fine. And the iPad Mini 2 will excel with even hardcore games. The size will tend to come down to personal preference. While it is easier to use the iPad Mini 2 one-handed, there are areas such as typing on the on-screen keyboard where the extra real estate of the larger iPad Air gains an advantage.

iPad Air Advantages

  • Productivity. The iPad Mini 2 may be just as powerful, but the extra screen space can easily lead to more productivity. Not only is it much easier to type on an iPad Air, ​but the 9.7-inch iPad also has more screen space for manipulating images, editing video, arranging text and other tasks you might perform on it. If you are getting an iPad as much for work as for play, the iPad Air will be the best choice for most.
  • 1.4 Ghz A7. The iPad Mini 2 may have received the same A7 chip that powers the iPhone 5S, but the A7 chip used on the iPad is slightly faster. The iPad Mini 2 chip clocks in at 1.29 Ghz while the iPad Air clocks 1.4 Ghz. Certainly, most people won't see the difference, but this does make the iPad Air slightly faster.
  • Price. This can be an advantage for both the Mini and the Air. While you might not be able to find a used or refurbished Air for the same price as an iPad Mini 2, it will be in the same ballpark. And even if you spend a little more for the Air, you are getting more tablet out of the exchange, so it may be worth it.

    And the Winner Is...

    The iPad Mini 2 has the edge in this fight. Apple has moved the iPad lineup in the direction of giving customers a choice in screen size without the trade-off in slower processor speed, and that makes us the winner. The iPad Mini 2 can do everything its big brother can do and look better doing it, so if you are looking to save $100, go with the Mini.

    However, that extra cash does buy a lot of real estate. This makes the full-sized iPad best for people using it for work or anyone who has bigger fingers.

    iPad Air vs iPad Mini 2 Comparison Chart

    Feature iPad Mini 2 iPad Air
    Entry Price: $399 $499
    CPU: 1.29 Ghz 64-bit Apple A7 1.4 Ghz 64-bit Apple A7
    Motion Co-Processor: M7 M7
    Resolution: 2048x1536 2048x1536
    Graphics: PowerVR G6430 PowerVR G6430
    Display: 7.9-inch IPS LED-backlit 9.7-inch IPS LED-backlit
    Memory: 1 GB 1 GB
    Storage: 16, 32, 64, 128 GB 16, 32, 64, 128 GB
    Camera: Front-facing: 720p | Rear-facing: iSight 5 MP Front-facing: 720p | Rear-facing: iSight 5 MP
    Data Rate: 4G LTE 4G LTE
    Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n 802.11 a/b/g/n
    MIMO: Yes Yes
    Bluetooth: 4 4
    Siri: YES YES
    Accelerometer: YES YES
    Compass: YES YES
    Gyroscope: YES YES
    GPS: 4G Version Only 4G Version Only