The latest Apple event is over, the specs are in and now you’ve got some decisions to make, namely Which iPad to get.
Apple is getting rid of the iPad 4 and the complete line-up will consist of the iPad 2, the iPad Mini, the new iPad Mini w/ Retina display, and the iPad Air. Neither of the new tablets have any major updates, but they’re faster, thinner and lighter. Based on industry trends this seems to be business as usual where we see these incremental changes with nothing earth shattering. The questions is, how far can you really take a tablet?
Apple has chosen to call its newest addition to the iPad family iPad air. It seems they’re moving towards the naming convention used for their laptops, which makes me wonder if there will be an iPad Pro coming out in the future.
The iPad Air has no major new features. But it is faster, thinner, and lighter than its brothers. It is 20% thinner, has a 40% reduction in bezel size over the previous version and weighs just one pound. The iPad 2 which is also still for sale, comes in at 1.35 pounds.
The Air still has a 9.7-inch Retina display that provides a resolution of 2048×1536 @ 264 PPI. Though the display has stayed the same the overall dimensions of the case have decreased. The size is now 9.4 x 6.6 x .29 inches.
The iPad Air is 20% thinner and has a 40% reduction in bezel size over the previous version and weighs just one pound.
The processor in the iPad Air is the new A7. The 64-bit A7 processor with m6 motion co-processor is twice as fast as its predecessor, which means a doubling in performance for tasks and graphics.
Wifi also gets a boost with the introduction of dual antennas that support MIMO or multiple in, multiple out. This newest addition is touted to give give the iPad Air twice the transfer rate in certain circumstances.
The battery is smaller than the one in previous iPads, but you still get 10 hours of battery life. It would’ve been nice to see a bump in performance here, but we see where they were going. Maybe in the next model we’ll see some much needed improvements in battery life.
The new A7 processor with m6 motion co-processor makes the iPad Air twice as fast as its predecessor. This means a doubling in task and graphics performance.
The iPad Air features expanded support for LTE, a 5 megapixel iSight rear camera for taking photos and HD video and a front facing FaceTime camera that provides 1.2 megapixels and records 720 HD video.
The iPad Air will be available with Wi-Fi or WiFi and Cellular options and with hard drive space of (16GB, 32GB $100+, 64GB $200+, and 128GB $300+). The Wi-Fi 16GB version is $499 and if you add cellular the price goes to $629. The color options are similar to the iPhone 5s with silver & white, and black & space grey versions. The iPad Air will be available starting November 1st.
iPad Mini With Retina Display (iPad Mini 2)
The iPad Mini with Retina display pretty much looks like its predecessor, but upgraded internals make it much faster with better resolution than the earlier iPad mini.
The iPad Mini 2 is actually slightly bigger and heavier than its predecessor. We’re talking millimeters and grams here, so it’s not really that big of deal. It measures 7.87 x 5.3 x .29 inches and comes in at .73 pounds. The display is still 7.9 inches, but it now provides a 2048 x 1536 resolution @ 326 PPI. The previous iPad mini only gave you 163 pixels per square. Coming in at 326 PPI should provide flawless text and graphics. You shouldn’t be able to see individual pixels.
The iPad Mini finally catches up with its bigger counterparts and gets the 64-bit Apple A7 processor which gives it 4x improvement in tasking and an 8x improvement in graphics over previous versions.
Compared the first iPad Mini the new updated processor will significantly improve performance. The iPad Mini now has the same 64-BIT Apple A7 processor as its counterpart and it’ll provide 4x the improvement in tasks and an 8x improvement in graphics.
The remaining specifications will be similar to the iPad Air. We mentioned the 64-bit processor, it will also have the same 10-hour battery life, the 5 megapixel iSight camera, dual mics, and the dual Wi-Fi MIMO antennas.
Pricing for the iPad mini starts at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version and $529 for 16GB with cellular option. It is also available in 32GB $100+, 64GB $200+, and 128GB $300+ options. The iPad mini is expected to start shipping late in November.
Other Apple iPads on Sale
Apple will be retiring the Apple 4 and continue selling the iPad 2 and the original iPad mini without Retina display. The iPad 2 and iPad mini 1 will only be available in 16GB with Wi-Fi or 16GB with Wi-Fi and Cellular versions. The iPad 2 will sell for the same price as the new iPad Mini 2 but will have the much slower A5 processor, and a worse resolution coming in at 1024 x 769 at 132 ppi. The front and back cameras are also significantly superior on the newer models. The iPad Mini 1 does have an excellent starting price point of $299.
So what was missing from this line-up? The first, as we mentioned earlier is the extended battery life. The second is the TouchID finger print scanner. I haven’t been able to find any significant reasons for this omission but my guess is that they didn’t have enough time to engineer it into the thinner footprint.
So which model should I buy you ask. Well I can only answer that for myself. So when it comes out, my money will be on the Apple iPad Mini with Retina display. I’ll be getting the 16GB version with the cellular option. Total price out of pocket will be $529. For $429 I can get the best display, the added option of cellular and a size that enables me to hold the device comfortably in one hand.
The $399 or $529 with cellular iPad Mini with Retina display is our best buy pick. With its 326 pixels per inch display, one hand friendly dimensions, and updated processor make it a great buy.
Now you may ask why get cellular? I’m not a power user with my tablets. If I need to use it at an airport or on the road, I’m more than likely just browsing the internet. A number of providers now have affordable tablet options for people like me. AT&T is offering a $25 1 gigabyte 3 month package or a day pass for 5$ and T-mobile is offering tablet owners a free data plan of 200 hours per month. All of these plans should be good for minor internet usage.
So what other options are out there. Well you also have Google’s Nexus 7, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Amazon’s Kindle HDX. Having used most of these I still choose the iPad mini because the construction and quality are the best and the operating system is intuitive and easy to use. I would understand if you went with either the iPad Mini for $299 or the iPad Air at $499, but my last choice would be the iPad 2. Other than size and $100 savings it is outdated tech and should be avoided.