Saturday, June 22, 2024

iPad Mini vs. iPad Air Buyer’s Guide


Apple recently introduced the sixth-generation iPad Air, featuring the M2 chip, Apple Pencil Pro support, and a larger display size option. In 2021, Apple debuted the sixth-generation iPad mini, offering an iPad Air-style redesign with a larger display, the A15 Bionic chip, and more.

The ‌iPad mini‌ 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 button, and stereo speakers. There are still some important differences between the devices, such as their display sizes and chips, that clearly set the devices apart.

Should you buy the more expensive, larger ‌iPad Air‌, or opt for the more affordable, smaller ‌iPad mini‌? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two iPads is best for you. All of the key differences between the two devices are listed below:

8.3-inch display with 326 ppi 11-inch or 13-inch display with 264 ppi
SDR brightness: 500 nits max 11-inch model SDR brightness: 500 nits max
13-inch model SDR brightness: 600 nits max
Smaller, compact design for maximum portability Larger design that is better for productivity
Weighs 0.66 pounds (297 grams) Weighs 1.02 pounds (462 grams) or 1.36 pounds (617 grams)
A15 Bionic chip ‌M2‌ chip
6-core CPU 8-core CPU
5-core GPU 9-core GPU
4GB of memory 8GB of memory
Media Engine
Hardware-accelerated H.264 and HEVC
Video decode engine
Video encode engine
Rear Quad-LED True Tone flash
Smart HDR 3 Smart HDR 4
Wi-Fi 6 connectivity Wi-Fi 6E connectivity
‌Apple Pencil‌ hover
Supports ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C and second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌ Supports ‌Apple Pencil‌ with USB-C and ‌Apple Pencil‌ Pro
Compatible with Bluetooth keyboards only Smart Connector to support Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
64GB or 256GB of storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage
Available in Space Gray, Starlight, Purple, and Pink Available in Space Gray, Starlight, Purple, and Blue
Starts at $499 Starts at $599 or $799

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 its larger display and ‌M2‌ chip, not least the ability to practically use it as a laptop replacement with the Magic Keyboard and Stage Manager.

Yet, most customers who choose the ‌iPad mini‌ will do so because of its screen size rather than in spite of it. The ‌iPad mini‌ is ideal for comfortably reading books, playing handheld games, and easy transport and 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 bag to use on public transport, or giving it to a kid as their first tablet.

If you do not see the ‌iPad mini‌’s smaller display, easy one-handed grip, lightweight design, and portable form factor as an advantage for your use case and are focused on a more versatile display size, you will likely prefer the ‌iPad Air‌, especially as it is now available with a 13-inch size option. The ‌iPad Air‌ is more of an all-around device that works as a potential laptop replacement with support for ‌Stage Manager‌, with the added bonuses that come with a bigger screen for productivity and entertainment.

It is also worth noting that the ‌iPad mini‌ is almost three years old, while the ‌iPad Air‌ has just been refreshed, so the latter is almost certainly a better purchase in terms of longevity. A new ‌iPad mini‌ model is expected to launch later this year with a faster chip, so if you have your heart set on the smallest ‌iPad‌ it may be worth holding off until the refreshed version comes out.Related Roundups: iPad Air , iPad miniBuyer’s Guide: iPad Air (Buy Now), iPad Mini (Don’t Buy)Related Forum: iPad
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