Rob Rich and I enjoyed the seemingly short Apple event yesterday when they unveiled the new iPad Air and iPad Mini. I currently run with the first model iPad Mini while he does his thing with an iPad 3. We both came away from the event impressed with the Air, but with the new power of the Mini I had to ask the question: which one to get? We figured a lot of you would have the same question, so we had a nice little discussion that might be of benefit to you as well.
Andrew Stevens: What makes the iPad Air more desirable than the iPad you currently use? Of course the overall power of it is most impressive, and needed.
Rob Rich: Well I'm currently using an iPad 3, so the technological leap is a bit more significant for me. In my case, I really like the decreased bulk and weight as well as the overall better performance. I've had issues with apps and games chugging a bit on the 3 and imagine they'd run a lot faster on the iPad Air.
Andrew: That's my same issue with the current iPad Mini. I have multiple games lagging behind just enough to where I need to upgrade right away. The iPad Air looks very impressive and I was originally thinking I would be getting the newest iPad rather than the Mini. However, with its similar performance to the iPad Air I’m really intrigued once again by the Mini.
Rob: This is true. I mean ultimately the iPad Air and new Mini aren't all that different.
Andrew: Yeah, it actually comes down to size this time around where previously I felt like I made the wrong decision by going with the first generation Mini instead of the latest iPad. I love the size, but its lack in performance has been noticeable as of late. This time around might be the best time to get the Mini and really enjoy all the benefits of a regular iPad but in a miniature size.
Rob: The problem I have with the Mini, which I've always had, is that it's in this weird middle ground between an iPhone and regular iPad. It's too small to allow users to truly benefit from a full-sized screen and it's too big to be as conveniently portable as the iPhone. I mean, if I can use my iPhone 5 for portable stuff, then set my iPad up for some almost-but-not-quite computing stuff, what do I really need the Mini for?
Andrew: I think the Mini's size is brilliant for me, especially as a gamer. I look at the Mini as a slightly larger console controller. I have bigger hands so it's easy for my thumbs to navigate the screen as I hold it like a controller. This was the biggest factor for me buying a Mini instead of the regular iPad. The iPhone screen is too small, and the regular iPad is too big to handle the way I want.
Rob: I suppose that's a good way of looking at it, although I still prefer the portability of the iPhone even if I have to bring the screen closer to my face. But I do sort of see the value in the Mini as a gaming device.
Andrew: I see what you’re saying, but sometimes with games there are objects that are just too small to handle even with putting the phone right up in your face. Plus, I don't want to hold a phone close to my face; I like a little bit of distance. The Mini is a good in-between that isn't too big, but also isn't too small. It's is great as a mobile gaming device, and the new iPad Mini really improves upon that. I can also (barely) fit the mini in my jeans! It's totally portable!
Rob: Riiiiiight. Anyway, I think it's interesting how Apple has been updating a lot of its apps, seemingly in preparation for the updated hardware. I mean all that stuff about iWork and collaborative projects over multiple devices seems like the sort of thing that the Air and new Mini would showcase really well.
Andrew: This November really leaves Apple users with an interesting decision to make. All year I would have told people to go with the regular iPad rather than the Mini just because it's a more powerful device. Like you've seen, I love the size of the Mini but its performance has lacked. Now that the new Mini is basically a miniature iPad Air, it really comes down to size this time around. It also comes at a minier price: $100 cheaper than the Air. Hmm!
Rob: Yeah, personally I think the $100 savings might be more of a deciding factor for the average consumer than the dimensions. Of course that also means that Apple is effectively cutting into their own sales by pricing the Mini at $399 while keeping the iPad 2 at the same price. I mean who's really going to want to spend $400 on something that outdated when they could easily buy something better, lighter, and smaller for the exact same price? Then again, that may have been their intent all along. By keeping the iPad 2 at $399 and making it their "default" tablet, it makes the new Mini look MUCH more attractive.
Andrew: Maybe the new Mini will be the highest selling iPad yet!
Rob: I don't know about that. I mean it certainly seems more appealing when considering the price point and all, but people are going to want the iPad Air something fierce. It's the newest Apple thing, you know?
Andrew: That's true. I'm just enjoying my pro Mini, praise the ewoks discussion. The iPad Air certainly has much appeal, design, and name. I bet there are people out there that get the Air just so they can say "I have the iPad Air" That's usually how it goes with something new.
Andrew: So what are you getting? The iPad Air or the new Mini?
Rob: Considering I don't have $400~$500 laying around, neither. However if I were to choose between the two it would probably be the Air because the larger screen would be ideal for what I typically use my iPad for (i.e. document editing, etc).
Andrew: As a gamer, I love the smaller screen and how I am able to handle the Mini. It's tempting for that reason and the fact I love my previous Mini so much, even though it lacks in power. However, I want the best iPad that's out there so I can enjoy every little bit of what every app has to offer. Plus, it'll probably be a good device to have while skipping the next generation of iPads. The new Mini is a huge improvement over the previous, and it's comparable to the Air, but it's time for me to make a move to the larger iPad. I want some Air time!
Rob: Oh lord.
And that's what we see between the iPad Air and iPad Mini; hopefully it was sort of educational for you. Both are clearly fine options as they each sport the same processor, graphics, camera – everything. The difference is in the size. What do you think? Are you going with the iPad Air and its regular size screen for $100 more or the slightly smaller screen for a better handle with the iPad Mini?