Apple quietly announced and released the iPad mini 4 last week during the company’s iPhone 6s event, and if you’re thinking about buying a new iPad, should you buy the newer iPad mini 4 or the iPad Air 2?
While the iPad mini 4 wasn’t a huge announcement by Apple, the device still received a rather generous hardware refresh, coming with Apple’s A8 processor and a boost to 2GB of memory.
Essentially, the iPad mini 4 is now almost on par with the iPad Air 2’s performance, except the slight inferiority with the processor, as the iPad Air 2 sports the A8X chip. However, both tablets are running at the same speed of 1.5GHz.
You could look at both tablets being quite equal as far as performance is concerned. They even have Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint home button, but the biggest obvious difference is that the iPad mini 4 sports a much smaller screen size than the iPad Air 2. The iPad mini 4’s screen measures in at 7.9 inches, while the iPad Air 2 has a 9.7-inch display — almost two inches larger.
Other than the screen size, the similarities between these two devices can make choosing one or the other pretty difficult, so if you’re in the market for a new iPad, which one should you buy? The iPad mini 4 or the iPad Air 2? In the end, it all comes down to two things.
The first thing is screen size. While the iPad mini 4 and the iPad Air 2 both sport similar features and matched performance, the biggest feature that separates the two completely is screen size.
With the iPad Air 2’s 9.7-inch screen, it’s the larger tablet out of the two, while the iPad mini 4 sports a smaller 7.9-inch display that’s a bit more portable, making it a good option for those who need the most portable iPad available.
The iPad mini 4 is a tablet that can easily be held with one hand. The iPad Air 2 can also be held with one hand, but it weighs nearly a third of a pound more than the iPad mini 4, making it the least favorable option if you plan on one-handed use, unless of course you have strong hands that can hold up a pound of metal, glass, and circuitry for however long you plan to play around with your iPad.
The viewing difference between the two screens is certainly noticeable, but it’s probably not something that will make a huge difference. It’s certainly not as drastic as going from an iPhone to an iPad screen, so if you want a small and portable tablet, you won’t be giving up much screen real estate by opting for the iPad mini 4.
Perhaps the biggest factor when deciding between the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4 is the price between the two tablets.
The iPad mini 4 starts at $399 for the 16GB model, where as the iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for the 16GB model. That’s a $100 price difference between the two slates. In other words, you’ll pay 25% more by going with the iPad Air 2.
However, if you need more space than 16GB, the difference in price goes slightly down with each new storage tier. So for example, if you’re wanting a 64GB iPad, you’ll pay 20% more by buying the iPad Air 2, and if you decide you want a 128GB iPad, you’ll pay almost 17% more for the iPad Air 2.
So as the storage tiers go up, the difference in price between these two iPads goes down, so this certainly factors into the decision of which iPad you should buy.
In the end, if you’re wanting to save money, the iPad mini 4 is the obvious choice. However, if price isn’t a huge factor for you and you have the money to spend, the iPad Air 2 is the ultimate victor just from screen size alone.
Of course, it’s possible that a 9.7-inch display is just too big for your needs, which is where the iPad mini 4 comes in. So if you prefer the iPad mini 4 over the iPad Air 2 because of the smaller screen, you’ll also save a few dollars off the price, which is a win-win situation.