Apple iPad Air vs Apple iPad mini with Retina Display: Spec comparison

Like clockwork, yesterday Apple convened its annual autumn event, leaving us with new MacBooks, the Mac Pro, and two new iPad models.

The full-sized iPad has been slimmed and trimmed, and now sports a new name – the iPad Air. And as many speculated, Apple upgraded the smaller iPad mini with a Retina Display, which has the same 2,048 x 1,536 resolution as its full-sized counterpart. Both of these devices are primed to continue Apple's tablet dominance, but what if you’re not sure which of these two new slates you should purchase? Read on and our side-by-side comparison will help you decide.

The iPad Air represents the first major redesign for Apple's full-sized tablet since the iPad 2. At 240mm tall and 169.5mm wide, with a thickness of just 7.5mm, the iPad Air is smaller than the fourth-gen iPad in every dimension, and it's slimmed down 469 gram weight is around 180 grams lighter than the previous generation. It's an impressive feat, as Apple kept the screen size the same and substantially trimmed some of the bezel surrounding the device. It now shares a very similar look to the iPad mini.

Speaking of which, the new iPad mini with Retina Display has almost identical dimensions to the original mini, clocking in at 200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm and weighing 331 grams. The iPad mini's advantage has been its thin and light form factor, but with the new iPad Air coming in at the same thickness and far closer in weight than previous generations, the gap is narrowing between the two products. As we found in our hands-on with the iPad Air, it’s now much more comfortable to handle than the iPad 4.

The big difference here is screen size: The iPad Air keeps the 9.7in display, while the iPad mini with Retina keeps its 7.9in display. But both displays use the same 2,048 x 1,530 resolution, as we’ve already mentioned. With the previous generation, the full-sized iPad had a bigger screen and more pixels, which meant more room to work. Now, both iPads have the same total number of pixels, so the real difference is going to be in sharpness and the size of on-screen elements. The mini's screen is sharper at 326 ppi against the Air’s 264 ppi.

Inside, both the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina use Apple's 64-bit A7 processor. It's the same chip that was introduced with the iPhone 5S, which is a good thing as that phone was exceedingly fast in our tests. And since both the Air and mini are pushing the same amount of pixels, we expect performance to be pretty comparable between the two. In fact, pretty much every major feature is the same between these two: Both tablets have the same 5-megapixel iSight camera, 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, dual-channel MIMO Wi-Fi, and broad LTE support.

Aside from the screen size difference, price will likely be the determining factor when choosing between these two iPads. The Air starts at the familiar £399 price point for the 16GB model, while the iPad mini with Retina will start at £319. It’s true that the mini has been given a price bump over the last generation – previously it started at £269 (and indeed Apple will still sell the original mini, but at a reduced price of £249). However, considering you get basically the same features as the Air, just in a smaller package with the new mini, it's a pretty competitive price point.

The iPad Air is set to be available to order on 1 November, with the iPad mini with Retina Display to follow later in November in the UK, according to Apple. So which iPad will you choose this autumn? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned for our full reviews when we get both of these tablets into our labs.

Apple iPad Air

Apple iPad mini Retina

Display

Screen size

9.7in

7.9in

Resolution

2,048 x 1,536 pixels

2,048 x 1,536 pixels

Pixel density

264 PPI

326 PPI

Type

IPS LCD

IPS LCD

Processor and battery

Family

Apple A7

Apple A7

Cores

Dual-core

Dual-core

Clock speed

TBC

TBC

Battery

Claimed 10 hrs life

Claimed 10 hrs life

Storage and memory

Internal memory

16 / 32 / 64 / 128GB

16 / 32 / 64 / 128GB

Card slot

No

No

RAM

TBC

TBC

Camera

Megapixels

Front: 1.2MP

Rear: 5MP

Front: 1.2MP

Rear: 5MP

Video

720p

720p

Dimensions

Size

240 x 169.5 x 7.5mm

200 x 134.7 x 7.5mm

Weight

469g (Cellular model: 478g)

331g (Cellular model: 341g)

Operating System

iOS 7

iOS 7

Price

Wi-Fi: £399 (16GB); £479(32GB); £559 (64GB); £639 (128GB)

Wi-Fi + Cellular: £499 (16GB); £579 (32GB); £659 (64GB); £739 (128GB)

Wi-Fi: £319 (16GB); £399(32GB); £479 (64GB); £559 (128GB)

Wi-Fi + Cellular: £419 (16GB); £499 (32GB); £579 (64GB); £659 (128GB)

UK Availability

1 November

Later in November