All iPads iPad Air vs iPad Mini with Retina - My thoughts and the one I picked

Discussion in 'iPad' started by cyrax83, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. cyrax83 macrumors member

    Nov 8, 2006
    Still debating yourself on which to get? My thoughts are below if people are interested in hearing my rant.

    My first iPad was the 2nd Gen, I thought it was pretty awesome, weight was fairly good and it was fairly thin – although holding it and reading on it at night, I did wish it was lighter. I sold out in prep for the iPad 3rd Gen, while the retina screen was amazing, the weight and thickness increase was crap and I never bought it. I could handle the thickness increase, but the weight increase sealed it in the Do Not Buy category.

    The iPad 4th gen was much the same so wasn't interested and eventually forgot about buying an iPad as I made the move to Android ecosystem on my mobile. The iPad line up didn't match my previous iPad 2.

    When the iPad Mini came out, I said yes – this is THE product. The weight was much lighter which was what I was after, the size was very comfortable to use and hold, and I could even handle the slower processor. The only thing that let it down at that time was the screen which I found horrid and I just couldn't forgive. The iPhone 4 screen looked better than the Mini, 1024x768 was yuck, so once again let it pass.

    Fast forward to today, I'm back on Apple as I am using my work iPhone 4S phone, and a tough decision on the Air vs the Mini. The main uses for me would be daily travel (as I catch a train) so it would always sit in my man bag, using it for note taking occasionally at work with clients, and at home with some gaming and YouTubing. I won't read books on it as I have a Kindle Paperwhite which I think is a far better screen and platform for reading books due to the e-ink technology (I could never read books on an iPad).

    When I walked into the Apple store to play with the Air, I picked it up, and went – wow this thing is light as hell and is so easy to hold. After a minute I realised it was the Mini haha. Picking up the actual Air, I could tell that this was a worthy upgrade to the iPad 2 I once had and considered the best iPad thus to date. Slimmer bezels and a good weight reduction (although it didn't feel as light as I would have hoped). I played with the Air for a couple of minutes and put it down. While the larger screen was nice, I would not use it as much as I would use the Mini. The 9.7" screen has more screen real estate, but displays the exact same content (i.e. same amount of apps on the grid etc)

    So my current products being a iPhone 4S (probably upgrade to a 6 next year) and a 13" Macbook Air, i'm fairly sure the RMini bridges that gap – and at $100 cheaper with a higher PPI screen and same internals seals the deal. Shame no TouchID but oh well. Once thing I am slightly concerned about is how desktop websites are going to look on the RMini in portrait with it's super high PPI. Will text be readable? I'm sure it'll be fine though.

    I'd recommend the Air if you don't really take it out of the house, don't have very good eyesight, do a lot of content creation and typing on it, or watch a ton of movies/videos on a desk where the larger screen would be beneficial.

    Hope this helps other people on the fence. The Air is a good upgrade – much better than 3rd/4th Gen iPad, but I think RMini is the pick of the lot at the moment
  2. kalt macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2011
    i'm holding out for the Mini Retina. Played with the Air yesterday... it's nice, definitely lighter. but i want a slightly smaller screen with the same power as the full sized ipad. now i can finally have that. and 128gb too.
  3. Dlanod macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    Yeah I agree with this. I have an Air but it's going back. Like the form factor of my Mini much better and now that the retina Mini has no performance, screen or storage compromises and is cheaper it's a bit of a no brainer.

    Getting one will be a challenge but I will just order from Apple as soon as I can and wait it out.
  4. vmaniqui macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2013
    i have the iPad mini and waiting for the mini 2.
  5. NeuroticaPills macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2013
    I had a similar experience. Owned the first iPad back in 2010, was a fun device but ended up selling it because I did not see any use for it. Then the iPad 2 was announced and with the front facing camera, slimmer style and growing app store, I got one second hand.

    Loved my iPad 2, even prefered it to the iPad 3 because of the weight. Had it for over a year until the iPad Mini was announced. Since I like to carry my iPad everywhere, I thought it could be a great product. And on launch day I tried it out in the store and I was sold, instantly bought the 32 gig version and sold my iPad 2.

    It's been a year of intensive use with my iPad Mini, I love everything about it. The size is perfect for me, a true personal device for reading books, browsing, typing (I love typing on the mini), comics (I don't have to zoom at all!), etc. Only missed retina, that would've been awesome. But it never bothered me unless I had a retina iPad next to it.

    Then the iPad Air and Retina Mini were announced. Same specs! Gotta have that Retina Mini! But damn you Apple, you created hype for the iPad Air.. I checked out reviews, unboxings, all were so positive about the Air. It seemed like the perfect match between light weight and bigger screen. And so yesterday I went to the store to check it out for myself and I fell prey to buyers impulse and bought an iPad Air.

    Spent all evening looking at that beautiful retina display, installing all my apps and using it intensely. After a while though, I started having doubts. Comparing the Air to my Mini, the only thing I loved about the Air was the resolution. The screen size of the Mini is just perfect for me, the balance when holding it playing a game, the ease of picking it up with one hand. All the reasons I love my iPad Mini were abscent from the Air. The Air is still a beautiful device, beautiful screen and superfast (yes, faster than my Mini) but for me it's 'once you go mini, you can't go back'.

    So this morning I went to the store and returned the iPad Air. Exchanged it for a preorder on a 64 gig iPad Mini Retina :) Can't wait to get my hands on the iPad I was really looking forward to in the first place.
  6. loapp38 macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2013
    I'm wondering if there's any one who own both ipad and the mini, how do you find yourself using them and under what percentage? I already have an ipad 3rd gen, and is debating if I should upgrade to the air or keep it and get an retina mini. I really appreciate your response, and this will definitely help me to make a decision!
  7. NeuroticaPills macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2013
    The only moment I had both was yesterday and this morning (iPad Air and iPad Mini). Even with the 'shiny new gadget' feel the Air had, I kept grabbing my Mini for actual usage.

    It is very personal though. I use my iPad Mini for games alot (old school adventures, some Hay Day, some platforming and racing) and holding the Air in landscape just felt a bit heavy, unbalanced and the screen was too big (held it close to my face) compared to the Mini. Also reading books and comics was more comfortable with the Mini. I kept leaning the Air on a pillow in bed to prevent arm-fatigue. Although this might be from the cold, slippery back of the device. Could be fixed with a case perhaps.

    I think the Air would be great if you watch a lot of movies on it, or want to be productive when travelling. If you travel, you need lightweight. But if you have an iPad 3 and rarely take it out of the house, I see no need for an Air. The Mini however, is a totally different feeling machine. For me it is like this: The Mini feels more like an entertainment/consumption unit. The bigger iPads feel more like production units. I tend to lean backward with the Mini and lean forward with the big iPad.

    What would you use it for?
  8. courboy macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2009
    This is exactly the same thought process I have been through, and the same purchasing too. I am sitting here typing on the ipad air, but I can't help thinking that I would rather an ipad mini.

    My problem is that I didn't purchase from the apple store and I can't return it now that it's been open. Do I sell on ebay and take a hit for a few hours ownership or try to grow and love it?!
  9. hachiman, Nov 2, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013

    hachiman macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    This is why Apple is advertising only the Air and not the mini with Retina. It has the same performance, smaller compact design, the same resolution as the Air, better pixel density, and cheaper than the Air. I knew Apple was trying to hype up the Air and it would have to be released first, because not many people would have bought the Air if it was released on the same day or after the Retina mini.

    From my perspective, the Air is "meh", unless you need the bigger screen from an accessibility context like people with disabilities, using it as a navigation assistance device (pilots, drivers), or commerce.

    The iPad mini with Retina is the better deal.
  10. loapp38 macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2013
    My ipad is my lap top, my ebook/ magazine reader, my browser, and I use it to take note. I mean it never leave my side and I always carry it around. To be honest weight isn't the biggest issue for me, but the storage size is. I made a pretty bad decision to go with 16gb and I regret it ever since. Now that I have an option to upgrade, I started to think if I should go with the mini retina and leave my ipad at home. I'm just afraid it will be too small to read comic, books or magazine, and it would probably be too small to work with a stylus to take note correct?
  11. hachiman macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2008
    Why don't you test the display models of the current first gen mini? It's basically the same thing but without retina.
  12. Dlanod macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    I'm in a quandary. I have a new Air. I also have a Mini and I can't decide whether to keep the Air or wait for the Mini Retina.

    The Mini is more portable sure but browsing is better on the Air. The Mini remains a little small for browsing and the retina won't improve this.

  13. loapp38 macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2013
    I think I agree with you. Since the holiday return policy started, might as well grab the retina mini and see how it fit for my lifestyle. Can return it until early Jan.
  14. patseguin macrumors 68000


    Aug 28, 2003
    I was kind of in the same boat. Since I use my tablet more than my pc, I opted for the full size Air and I'm happy I did. It is a joy to hold and use, I can't event put it down. Previously I said the same thing and the mini being the device to have but a lot of that was because of the thinness and lightness. They say the RMini will be a little thicker but that doesn't concern me a lot. I'd say portability is a non issue since the Air is fairly compact and easy to hold. I'd say go for the Air if you use a table more than the PC. Go for the mini if you have your heart set on a smaller form factor. I had both before and swore this time I would be fine with just the Air. I'm wondering once I hold and feel the mini if I'll want one of those too.
  15. Jasmynp macrumors 6502


    May 15, 2011
    East Coast, USA
    From where did you buy it that you can't return it 24 hours later? Most if lot all US retailers would take it back even opened. Just restore to default and get your money back.
  16. Rhyalus macrumors 6502


    Mar 4, 2011
    It is kind of funny, but these iPad vs iPad mini threads have been raging for months,

    It is all about what you do on your iPad - especially now that the hardware will be so similar.

    Do you web browse or view documents or use other apps that need the screen real estate? If so, you need a 9.7".

    I just can't understand why this is such a hassle for folks to come to terms with.

    If you have not been to the gym for a long time and can't read with the iPad 4 or Air in bed, then buy a cheap Kindle and use the right tool for the right job...

  17. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I have a similar experience as you but I disagree with you assessment. The mini looked nice in the store, but I can't think of any application where I'd want a mini instead of an Air. On airplanes, I tend to read so I usually only take my kindle paper white out. I carry a purse large enough for the air. If I take it to work, it slips easily into my laptop bag.

    The mini is nice but I personally rather have the Air.
  18. Steviejobz macrumors 68000

    Jun 19, 2010
    No offense but the Air is redundant if you use a laptop as your primary device at home. reading is brutal on the Air. I'll never get the large iPad again unless I can't afford to buy a retina macbook macbook
  19. Rogifan macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2011
    Hey mini lovers - some of us do want the larger real estate. And with the Air you get pretty close to the lightness of the mini but don't have to sacrifice the larger screen. I had my Air with me in my handbag last night and I could hardly feel that it was there. When I caried my 3rd gen iPad I knew I was lugging a brick around. Why is it so hard for people to understand some of us want a bigger screen?
  20. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I'm opting for the mini myself. Waiting for when I can place an order.
  21. djvidi macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2013
    Maybe the size apple should have done is 8.9, pretty much half way between the two. That would then possibly be best of both worlds.

    We'll probably get the same complaints when the 6 comes out if it has say a 4.7 or 5 inch display that it is too big and heavy and the 5/5s is the perfect size.
  22. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I have a 15" rMBP but I have used both my iPad and laptop. If I want to play a game, I play it on the laptop. If I want casual web browsing and most other things, I use the iPad.
  23. powerbooks macrumors regular

    Feb 23, 2009
    I have both iPad 3 and iPad mini.

    I carry the mini everyday in my bag to work. When checking some personal stuff at work, I uses the mini. Honestly, I use it less, not because of the resolution, but because of the lack of chance. When I travel, I definitely take the mini with me even though it is not really a good reading tablet.

    I leave the iPad 3 at home, and my wife loves it and uses it everyday. It does not leave home. She does not complain the weight. She can use it in couch, in bed, and do not have to sit in front of iMac.

    The reading on the big iPad is much better than the mini, regardless of the screen resolution. I found even for Safari, many web sites were optimized for iPad 3 large screen, with iPad mini just scale down, which makes a very tiresome browsing experience. The screen size does matter.

    I will try Air with 4G to see if it will fit my travel need.
  24. scupking macrumors 6502a

    Dec 14, 2010
    Man a 8.9 inch screen would be perfect!!! Mini sometimes feels to small and the air sometimes feels to big.
  25. SixSlinger macrumors regular


    Jun 28, 2007
    I had a 3rd Gen iPad and an iPad mini. My plan was to use th mini as a work/email machine, and the iPad for watching video and other media consumption.

    In reality, once I got the mini, I probably used the full size iPad less than 5 times in a month. I eventually ended up selling the iPad and using the mini exclusively.

    I bought an Air yesterday, and I like it very much, but I have a gut feeling that I'm going to end up with the Retina iPad mini as my daily device.

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