Apple recently introduced the fifth-generation iPad Air, featuring the M1 chip, 5G connectivity, and an upgraded front-facing camera system. Last year, Apple introduced the sixth-generation iPad mini, offering an iPad Air-style redesign with a larger display, the A15 Bionic chip, and more.
The iPad mini now effectively shares the design of the iPad Air, with both devices possessing many of the same features such as an all-screen design with no Home button, Touch ID in the top power button, and stereo speakers. Now with Center Stage and 5G connectivity, the iPad Air is now broadly up to spec with the iPad mini. There are still some important differences between the devices, such as their chips, that continue to set the devices apart.
Should you buy the more expensive, larger iPad Air, or opt for the more affordable, smaller iPad mini? Our guide answers the question of how to decide which of these two iPads is best for you.
Comparing the iPad mini and iPad Air
The iPad mini and iPad Air share a large number of key features, such as design, a rear 12MP Wide camera, and a USB-C port:
- All-screen industrial design with flat edges
- Touch ID scanner built into the top button
- Liquid Retina display with P3 wide color, fingerprint resistant coating, 500 nits max brightness, full lamination, anti-reflective coating, and True Tone
- 12MP ƒ/1.8 Wide rear camera with 5x digital zoom and Smart HDR 3
- 4K video recording at up to 60fps with 3x video zoom, 1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps, 1080p slo-mo video at 120fps or 240fps, and time-lapse with stablilization
- 12MP ƒ/2.4 front-facing Ultra Wide camera with 2x zoom out, Center Stage, Retina Flash, Smart HDR 3, cinematic video stabilization, and 1080p video recording
- Second-generation Apple Pencil compatibility
- Up to 10 hours of battery life
- USB-C port
- Two speaker audio landscape mode
- Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- Sub-6GHz 5G connectivity
- Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular models
- 64GB and 256GB storage options
- Available in Space Gray, Pink, Purple, and Starlight
Apple’s specification breakdown shows that the two iPads share many of their most important features. Even so, there are meaningful differences between the iPad mini and iPad Air that are worth highlighting, including their A-series chips, front-facing cameras, keyboard compatibility, and more.
- 8.3-inch display with 2266‑by‑1488 resolution at 326 ppi
- Smaller, compact design for maximum portability
- A15 Bionic chip with 4GB of memory
- Rear Quad-LED True Tone flash
- Compatible with Bluetooth keyboards only
- Weight of up to 0.66 pound (297 grams)
- 10.9-inch display with 2360‑by‑1640 resolution at 264 ppi
- Larger design that is better for productivity
- M1 chip with 8GB of memory
- Smart Connector for external keyboards including Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
- Weight of up to 1.01 pounds (462 grams)
- Available with additional Blue color option
Overall, the iPad Air is the best all-around option for the majority of users, providing a large screen for productivity and consuming entertainment in a slim, portable design. The additional $100 needed to buy the iPad Air over the iPad mini is more than justified for the benefits that come with a larger display, not least the ability to practically use it as a laptop replacement.
Yet, most customers buying the iPad mini will likely be buying it because of its screen size rather than in spite of it. The iPad mini is ideal for comfortably reading books, playing handheld games, and unobtrusive storage.
Those who buy the iPad mini will likely have a specific use case in mind for how they will use the device, such as for note-taking on the go, throwing into a small backpack to use on public transport, or sliding into a large pocket to use while working.
If you do not see the iPad mini’s smaller display, easy one-handed grip, light weight, and portable form factor as an active advantage and are focused on a more versatile larger display, you will likely prefer the iPad Air. If you want more of an all-around device that works as a potential laptop replacement, with the added bonuses that come with a bigger screen for productivity and entertainment, the iPad Air will be the better option for you.Related Roundups: iPad Air , iPad miniBuyer’s Guide: iPad Air (Buy Now), iPad Mini (Buy Now)Related Forum: iPad
This article, “iPad Air 5 vs. iPad Mini 6 Buyer’s Guide” first appeared on MacRumors.com
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