If you already own an iPad mini, is it worth upgrading to the new model with Retina Display? Or maybe you're considering buying your first iPad mini, and are wondering if it's worth saving a few bucks on last year's model? Let Gizmag help, as we plop the first two generations of the iPad mini into our magical comparison machine, and see what happens.

Release date

The Retina Display iPad mini launches sometime in November. The original model hit stores last November, and is sticking around for another year.


Nothing shocking here. Though it is worth noting that the Retina iPad mini is a little thicker. That's the same thing that happened to the full-sized iPad when it got a Retina Display.


Not a great start for the Retina model, as it's also a bit heavier compared to the original iPad mini. Seven percent heavier, to be exact.


Same aluminum build in both models.


The Retina iPad mini gets the same Space Gray color from the iPhone 5s, and Apple updated the original model with the new hue as well. If you bought a first-generation iPad mini before the new models were announced, then you might have the "black & slate" color instead.


Same 7.9-inch display size for the new model, but the big news is its shift to a Retina Display. It has four times the pixels of the original model, making for a much denser screen. Expect razor-sharp text and crisp, clear images.


Performance should be another huge upgrade in the Retina iPad mini. Its 64-bit A7 chip is two generations ahead of the old A5 (originally found in 2011's iPad 2) in the non-Retina iPad mini.


We don't yet know how much RAM the Retina iPad mini has, but we'd bet on 1 GB. The mere 512 MB found in the 1st-gen version just barely cuts it. Backgrounded apps and browser tabs will need to refresh more often than they do on devices with more RAM.


The first mini was originally available in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models, but now that it's sticking around for a second year, it's only sold in a 16 GB flavor.


Same resolution in the cameras this time around, but Apple did boast of some upgraded sensors in the new batch of iPads.


Above are the watt hours for the batteries. If you're more concerned with uptimes, then Apple is estimating that the Retina version will last the same ten hours (while surfing the web on Wi-Fi).


Both models are sold in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with LTE versions. The cellular models cost an extra US$130 over their Wi-Fi only counterparts with the same amount of storage.


Both iPad minis run the new iOS 7, with the App Store's stacked selection of tablet apps.

Starting prices

Apple actually jacked the Retina model's price up by $70, hitting the $400 price point for 16 GB Wi-Fi only. It then shoots all the way up to $830 for a 128 GB cellular model.

On announcing the new iPad mini, Apple also dropped the first-generation model's price down to $300.


If the Retina iPad mini had stayed at $330, this would have been a no-brainer. Not only does it have a much sharper screen, but its performance will be head and shoulders above last year's model.

But at $400, the Retina mini is now inching closer to Apple's new full-sized iPad, the iPad Air. With that added to the non-Retina model's price drop, we can see some customers preferring to save a few bucks and live with the lower-resolution screen.

On the flip side, the new iPad mini's specs are pretty much toe-to-toe with the iPad Air, so you're getting a much more powerful tablet than you did last year. It even has a sharper display than the iPad Air, owing to the same amount of pixels scrunched onto the smaller screen.

For more on the new iPads, you can read our first impressions of the iPad Air, see how the Retina iPad mini compares to the iPad Air, and you can also check out the iPad Air vs. the older 9.7-inch iPads.

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