All iPads Form factor: iPad Air vs iPad mini

Discussion in 'iPad' started by JerTheGeek, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. JerTheGeek macrumors 68000


    May 15, 2014
    So Im still trying to decide between the mini or Air size for my next iPad upgrade.
    But rather than focus on specs, I wanted to make a separate thread simply talking about the form factor of both devices. If I already have the mini, should I switch to the Air size? Is the mini better to use with my MacBook air? Overall, which form factor do you prefer, and why?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Its really personal preference. Some folks like the Air for the larger display, others such as myself like the mini.

    Get the one that feels best in your hands and provides you with the best interaction.
  3. sweetstyle macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2013
    air from the user experience point of view...
  4. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    I have the Mini and prefer it over the full size for my needs and desires.

    You need to decide, for yourself, what you want or need. We can't do that for you.
  5. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    Id say it would depend on your uses. While in college, I preferred the mini because it was much more portable. But after that, I wanted a bigger screen for use around the house. So I would say if you plan on taking your iPad everywhere you go, the mini would probably be easier. If you plan on keeping it around the house for media consumption, I would prefer the air because of the larger screen size.
  6. JerTheGeek thread starter macrumors 68000


    May 15, 2014
    I definitely know its a personal preference. But for me, hearing why people chose the mini or the air really helps me decide. So mini users, why did you choose the mini? Or air users, why did you choose the bigger size?
  7. pdoherty macrumors regular

    Dec 30, 2014
    iPad Mini is too small, IMO. Far easier to read and use the iPad. In fact I'm holding off on my next tablet upgrade for a larger tablet. I've even been thinking of jumping ship to an Android tablet for maybe a Samsung Pro 12.2 inch tablet.
  8. iF34R macrumors 65816


    Jul 13, 2011
    South Carolina
    Mini for more portability and air for larger display.
  9. ScottNWDW macrumors 65816


    Jul 10, 2008
    Orlando, Florida
    I have both a regular sized iPad and an iPad mini. I have had iPads since they first came out. Currently using the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 2. I like both form factors, however I do find myself using the larger one a lot more.

    Both iPads are great, and it really depends on your personal choice. Some people like the smaller mini size over the standard size. Go to an Apple Store or a Best Buy where you can spend a little time with the display models and that could help you determine which one is better.

    No as far as specs go, the iPad Air 2 has the best specs. Unfortunately the iPad mini 3 has basically the same specs as the iPad mini 2 with the exception of the touch ID.
  10. zip macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2003
    It is definitely a personal preference, this is my experience. Last year I bought my first iPad and decided on the Air because it was lighter than previous full size iPads and I thought the larger screen would have a better user experience. The Retina Mini didn't have the full color gamet and with the increase weight to get the Retina screen it was not much lighter than the Air.

    I ended up using the Air very little. I had wanted my ipad to use out and about but ended up rarely taking it with me. Once it was in a case, it was much heavier. I didn't use at home very much.

    I recently bought a Mini 2 refurb (the same model I didn't buy last year), and like it so much better. I am currently on vacation and this the first time I've elected to take an ipad on a trip. During this trip I've had access to my mini, an original Air and the iPad Air 2. I've used all three, and prefer the mini even for just using it in front if the TV, it is easier to hold and use and I think the most enjoyable. It is by far the easiest iDevice I've had for typing on.

    I wish I originally bought the Mini last year, I think I would have gotten far, far more use out it than I did the Air.

    All that said, I am thinking of returning it and selling my iPhone 5s and getting the iPhone Six Plus. The Mini is so easy to take with me everywhere, I found that I want to do everything on it and wish that it had a phone built in and just have one device. I can't get some of the my third party apps to sync. I've found myself putting down the mini and searching for my iphone so I can set an alarm or do something and have to switch devices so it will be on my phone ensuring that it will be with me. This is already driving me crazy.

    My dad has the iPhone Six Plus so I have been playing with that. I think the screen on the Mini is a much better user experience, the best out of all the iDevices for screen size vs portability. However I think it will be easier to manage one portable device instead of two. When I first saw the Six Plus I didn't think the screen was large enough to read my reference PDFs, but when I put some on my father's Six Plus discovered it it is.

    I think it comes down to what you want to do. The mini is very portable, and I think is also enjoyable using it in the house.
  11. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    No doubt it is personal preference. I love my Air 2 buit would not mind if the screen was larger, like 12" to 14".

    Guess I am still waiting on the Pro.

    I carry my Air 2 in the field everyday and the size is perfect for me.:cool:
  12. jrs22 macrumors 6502

    Aug 1, 2012
    My iPad Air 1 is always in use or at my side when I'm at home, but I rarely take it out. I just don't see myself using it on a bus or train for a short commute - it just feels too big and obvious. On the other hand, I have an old 4th generation iPod touch that goes with me everywhere which I want to upgrade. If Apple would improve the mini I would definitely buy one as a second device. An improved camera would be a major selling point as I don't use a smartphone. But as a primary device I think a big issue is eyesight. Since the mini runs iPad versions of apps, but smaller, rather than iPhone versions, but larger, it's often hard to use without reading glasses.
  13. JerTheGeek thread starter macrumors 68000


    May 15, 2014
    Funny cause I was thinking the same thing about selling my 5s and mini for a 6 plus. I absolutely love the 5s form factor. But when I think of the 6 plus as an iPad, it seems quite manageable as that, like an extremely portable tablet. However, when I think of using the 6 plus at home, like when I am watching YT and browsing the web, relaxing at home, I would much prefer the mini, or maybe the Air. That is what makes me decide not to go with the 6 plus. Also, I really do love the 4 inch size, I don't want to switch to a bigger phone. Ever. Long live the 4 inch iPhone!
  14. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I know you're wanting to not focus on specs here, but when it comes to form factor, BOTH are fantastic and viable in their own right. The Air is highly functional and the screen size makes typing on it actually doable and content creation on it fantastic. However, the mini is far more portable than the Air and you'll take it with you on trips/errands that you would otherwise leave the Air behind on, so it's really hard for me to say anything other than "go with both" as they're both fantastic in their own right.

    THAT BEING SAID: if you're only to pick one, I'd turn my attention back on specs. Or rather, I'd turn my attention to Apple's attention to specs and how said attention differs between the current iPad Air and the current iPad mini.

    The iPad Air received the biggest update with the iPad Air 2 since the update from fourth generation iPad to the original iPad Air (which, in and of itself was huge).

    In contrast, the iPad mini 3 is identical to its immediate predecessor (the "iPad mini 2"/"iPad mini with Retina Display"/"Second Generation iPad mini"/whateveryouwanttocallit) save for TouchID, a slightly different camera design (albeit the same under the hood), the inclusion of AppleSIM on cellular models, and the gold color option. Otherwise, it's the same thing, even down to the processor, as its predecessor, which (a) makes it a weak update and (b) makes it seem like Apple is going to devote diminishing attention to this product line and its future.

    Given this, considering bang-for-buck and how long you'll want to own this iPad before it inevitably runs unusably slowly and can't run the then-current version of iOS, I'd go with the iPad Air 2.
  15. JerTheGeek thread starter macrumors 68000


    May 15, 2014
    My big question is, should I choose the mini just because of portabilty? I don't bring my iPad out too much; maybe 2-4 times a month. Also I use it when I go on vacations once or twice a year.
    When I was at the hospital for long hours at a time a few months ago, it was super convenient to just slip my iPad mini into my jeans or shorts pocket and walk around.
    I also use my iPad outside for reading the occasional book for school book reports, and also for taking notes for school outside when the weather is nice enough.
    So for these uses, would it be worth it to choose the mini form factor?
  16. perezr10 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2014
    Monroe, Louisiana
    I use spreadsheets alot and I'll tell you right now, the iPad Mini is too small for that. That may not be a concern for you but I thought someone should warn you just in case.


    If you use your iPad outside then you shouldn't even be thinking about getting the mini. I'll tell you right now, the Air 2 is waaaaaaay superior for reading outside. See my comparison photo here of the glare difference.
  17. bevsb2 macrumors 68000

    Nov 23, 2012
    I have the rMini 2 and the Air 2. I like everything about the Air better and I never get the mini out at home. However, the Air doesn't fit in my purse and never leaves the house. My mini goes everywhere with me so for portability the mini ranks #1.
  18. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I have both sizes and very much prefere the mini.
    The size and weight make all the difference in the world to me.
  19. MrT-Man macrumors regular

    Jan 22, 2008
    I just upgraded from a first-gen Mini to an iPad Air 2. In between, I tried the Mini 3 for a couple of weeks. I really liked the portability of the Mini. But the Air 2 is much nicer for extended reading, e.g. for newspapers and magazines, and for extended video viewing -- in terms of both the screen size and screen quality. I'm finding it to be a significantly better experience.

    I was never interested in the Air and earlier models, but the Air 2 is finally light/thin enough that it made me comfortable in upsizing from a Mini. It's even comfortable for use when lying down in bed.

    I'd say if you're only going to take it out of the house a couple of times a month, you're sacrificing too much by going for the Mini instead of the Air 2. I think the Mini makes the most sense if you're taking it out almost daily, e.g. for use while commuting.
  20. ron7624 macrumors 68020


    Oct 14, 2011
    Houston, Texas area
    I have both and enjoy both. I'm a guy and am able to put the mini in my back pocket, and as such I take my mini with me everywhere.
    I use my rMini 98 % of the time. I use my Air to read sheet music when performing.
    If I could only have one, it would be the mini as I can (and do) read sheet music on the rMini as well.
    It's a matter of convenience for me as they both do the same things just as well as the other.
  21. wineandcarbs macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2008
    I have a Mini but my next iPad will be a full sized one.

    I chose the Mini because I liked the portability, especially for my uses at the time - reading ebooks, surfing the net, portability. It was really light for reading in bed. I personally didn't really like emailing on my Mini though. I find typing kind of a PITA unless you were pecking at the keyboard. I know you may do the same with a full size one but it was kind of an in between form factor for me where I couldn't use it two handed in portrait mode like typing on a phone, but it also didn't have a bigger keyboard for other times. You may have bigger hands than me, though, OR this may not matter to you.

    Now, though, I have an iPhone 6 Plus and find that kind of has become my converged iPhone / iPad Mini. I'd still like a full sized one, though, for browsing on the couch and stuff like that.
  22. puma1552 macrumors 603

    Nov 20, 2008
    With how light the Air 2 is and with a smaller footprint than the iPad 4, the mini really doesn't have much of a size/weight advantage IMO, but it still has a screen size penalty.

    The Air 2 is a small device as it is, so Air 2 all day everyday for me.
  23. New Apple macrumors regular

    Mar 29, 2012
    a major issue of the normal size ipad is the extended 'keeping'

    if you keep your ipad for hours, keep it up while laying on bed or sofa
    the bigger form factor will require more stress on your arms - distance between hands - weight aside -

    if you plan to use the tool with your hands and for hours i suggest the mini
    if you plan to lay it on a stand or flat on a table you might go for the air.
    i managed to keep the mini with 3 fingers without much stress
    while watching netflix

    if you write or draw a lot, you are not going to 'keep it up' but lay it down
    different use, different 'stress'
  24. IrishVixen macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010
    I love the Mini for portability and content consumption. It can be held in one hand for much longer periods than the Air. It fits in many pockets and most purses. It's an all around excellent compromise between size & functionality.

    But I have to admit, when it comes to content creation (for me, photo editing and writing), I find myself wishing for the larger screen of the Air. If they bring out an iPad Pro, I can easily see myself picking that up for those purposes.
  25. ron7624 macrumors 68020


    Oct 14, 2011
    Houston, Texas area
    I can see me picking up the pro for reading sheet music at practice and performances
    The rMini is my main device 98% of the time - it is all I use - but the larger iPad to read the music that I put on the cloud with the most excellent camera on the iPhone 6... I mean the way things work together with Apple is simply outstanding. I can hand hold my phone and take a RAZOR sharp image of my sheet music, create a group for photos and upload and within seconds, I'm viewing that music loaded on an iPad that is located on a mike stand across the room.
    Sorry, fell in a rabbit hole, huh
    Anyway, I use my rMini for everything all the time. I even read the sheet music on it if I don't have my Air with me.

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