Apple iPad mini or iPad 4th generation: Which should I buy?

It used to be fairly easy to decide on an iPad - pick your storage capacity, price, and whether or not you need cellular data support or can get by with just Wi-Fi. But not anymore.

Last night Apple unveiled the long-rumoured iPad mini, a smaller, lighter model with a 7.9in screen, instead of the 9.7in Retina display on the regular iPad. Just to keep things interesting, the company also boosted the existing, larger iPad, adding a new A6X processor, faster Wi-Fi performance, and the 8-pin Lightning connector. Both also have 4G LTE versions available and you can get them all in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB varieties.

So now which do you choose? Many people have extolled the virtues of smaller tablets. Most of the praise surrounds the ability to use the tablet one-handed, and to carry it in a coat pocket or an even smaller bag. That makes the iPad mini perfect for reading books, playing certain kinds of games, and just having it handy in a crowded coffee shop or anywhere space is constrained.

Don't discount the iPad mini's lighter weight, either. Amazingly, it weighs less than half of what the regular-sized iPad weighs, despite only losing 1.8in of screen diameter to its larger sibling. It's also £130 less expensive.

That said, there's still plenty of reason to get the larger one. The 97in model has four times the screen resolution, at 2,048 x 1,536 pixels instead of 1,024 x 768. It also has a new A6X processor that Apple promises is up to twice as fast as the earlier A5X in the iPad introduced this past April. Both of those processors are faster than the A5 CPU in the iPad mini, too. That makes the 9.7in model better for hardcore gaming and more CPU-intensive content consumption.

Pre-orders for the iPad mini and the iPad (4th Generation) start Friday, 26 October, with the Wi-Fi-only versions hitting Apple Stores on November 2nd, 2012.

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