The New Apple iPad mini and iPad with Retina Display

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Apple just announced the new iPad mini, which is shorter, thinner, lighter and more affordable than their popular 9.7” tablets. In a surprising twist, the larger iPad was updated as well. Just seven months ago, Apple announced a 9.7” iPad that featured a Retina display, and they officially named it “The new iPad.” Today, that model was discontinued and replaced by a tablet that’s officially called “iPad with Retina display.” The new one features a faster A6X chip that provides twice as much CPU and graphics processing power than the previous generation. The iPad 2, which was introduced by Steve Jobs back in March of 2011, remains current as an active member of the iPad family.

The iPad mini

When you first see an iPad mini, you may assume that it’s just a baby version of the larger iPad, or an iPod touch that’s been stretched out, but it’s a totally new design. At 7.2mm thick, it’s considerably thinner than the larger iPads. It weighs 0.68 lb, which is less than half the weight of the larger iPad. Its multi-touch screen is 7.9 inches on the diagonal, with a resolution of 1024 x 768. That’s the same resolution as the 9.7” iPad 2, and when condensed into the 7.9” display on the iPad mini, the overall look of graphics, images and text is very crisp.

The new iPad mini features a dual-core A5 chip, which is the same processor found on the iPad 2. It has a front-facing camera that can take 1.2MP photos and shoot 720p HD video. There is also a rear-facing camera with a five-element lens that can take 5MP photos and shoot 1080p HD video. The maximum aperture of the rear camera is f/2.4, and it features autofocus as well as face detection. Like the new iPhone 5 and iPod touch, the iPad mini features the more compact Lightning connector for charging and syncing. Like the new iPad with Retina display, the battery life on the iPad mini is an impressive 10 hours, and there are both Wi-Fi and cellular 4G LTE versions, including a version for Sprint’s network.

There are other factors that make the new iPad mini different from its larger siblings, besides the smaller size and lighter weight. The bezel around the screen of a 9.7” iPad is of equal measure on all sides, and comfortably thick. The bezel on the iPad mini is thick on the top and bottom of the device, but like an iPhone or an iPod touch, it’s considerably thinner on the sides. This smaller bezel works because the iPad mini is so much more lightweight than the other iPads. It’s generally easier to hold with one hand, so you don’t need a thick bezel to manage its weight.

There are other compact tablets available that offer lower introductory prices, but when you compare them, you see rather dramatic differences. A tablet with a 7” display may seem similar in size to the iPad mini’s 7.9” display, but that number only tells you the diagonal measurement. When you look at the square inches on the displays, the difference is revealed. The 7” tablet provides 21.9 square inches of display, while the iPad mini provides 29.6 square inches, which is 35% more. That’s because 7” tablets have rectangular displays that are tall and narrow. The rectangular screen of a tablet seems uncomfortably short and wide for landscape-mode Web browsing, especially when compared to the more roomy iPad mini.

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The iPad mini will be available in both black and white, in 16-, 32- and 64GB versions. The white version features a silver aluminum back, and the black model has a matching black metallic rear. There are new SmartCovers that are available in several colors, including a Product RED model, and they don’t have the somewhat clunky metal hinge found on the larger SmartCovers. The base iPad mini model has 16GB of storage and Wi-Fi. There's a 32GB iPad mini with Wi-Fi, as well as a 64GB version. There are also versions of the iPad mini with internal LTE radios, which are avialable in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. They are set to ship on Friday, November 2.

iPad with Retina display

The new iPad with Retina display isn’t terribly different than the third-generation iPad that it replaced. The most striking change is the featured dual-core Apple A6X chip with quad-core graphics, which offers considerably faster performance. The new iPad with Retina display also features the smaller Lightning connector for charging and syncing. The front-facing camera is now capable of 720p HD video, so your friends and family can see you more vividly during video chats. The Wi-Fi is faster and handled by dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n. Another development is that a cellular LTE version of the new iPad with Retina display will be available for Sprint, in addition to Verizon and AT&T.

Despite the bump up in performance, the battery life of the new iPad with Retina display remains at a formidable 10 hours. It has the same Retina display as the third-generation iPad, and the same 5MP rear-facing camera. Other than the Lightning connector port, the new iPad with Retina display is visually identical to the third-generation iPad. The Wi-Fi versions of the new iPad with Retina display will be available on November 2,  and the LTE versions will arrive in mid-November.

  iPad mini iPad with Retina display
Display Size (Diagonal) 7.9" (20.22 cm) 9.7" (24.64 cm)
Display Technology IPS technology fingerprint-resistant Oleophobic coating Retina Display with IPS technology & fingerprint-resistant Oleophobic coating
Display Type Capacitive, Multi-Touch Capacitive, Multi-Touch
Display Resolution 1024 x 768 (at 163ppi) 2048 x 1536 (at 264ppi)
Display Aspect Ratio 4:3 4:3
Display Backlight LED LED
Voice Dictation Yes, Siri (support for English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese) Yes, Siri (support for English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese)
Operating System iOS 6 iOS 6
Processor Dual-core Apple A5 Dual-core Apple A6X & quad-core graphics chip
Storage Capacity 16GB, 32GB, 64GB 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Front Camera FaceTime 1.2MP, 720p video FaceTime 1.2MP, 720p video
Rear Camera 5MP iSight camera, 1080p HD video 5MP iSight camera, 1080p HD video
3G/4G Network Choices AT&T, Sprint and Verizon AT&T, Sprint and Verizon
Wi-Fi Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
Bluetooth Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0
Accelerometer Yes Yes
Ambient Light Sensor Yes Yes
Gyroscope Yes Yes
Assisted GPS Yes, and GLONASS (cellular only) Yes, and GLONASS (cellular only)
Image Stabilization Yes Yes
Personal Wi-Fi Hotspot Yes (cellular only) Yes (cellular only)
Audio Input / Output 1/8" (3.5mm) TRRS headphone jack 1/8" (3.5mm) TRRS headphone jack
Speaker Yes Yes
Microphone Yes Yes
Docking Port Lightning connector Lightning connector
iCloud Support Yes Yes
External Controls Sleep/Wake button, Volume rocker, Mute switch, Home button  Sleep/Wake button, Volume rocker, Mute switch, Home button 
Battery Type Built-in rechargeable Lithium Polymer Built-in rechargeable Lithium Polymer
Battery Life Up to 10 hours Up to 10 hours
Case Construction Aluminum Aluminum
Dimensions (H x W x D) 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.28" (200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm) 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37" (241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm)
Weight (Wi-Fi Only) 0.68 lb (308 g) 1.44 lb (653.2 g)
Weight (Wi-Fi + 3G/4G) 0.69 lb (312 g) 1.46 lb (662 g)