No matter how much the public tries to predict Apple's next move, the tech giant showed it still has a few tricks up its sleeve when it released the new iPad Air, not the iPad 5. Apple also made a big splash with its release of the iPad Mini with Retina Display, but how much of that is style and how much is substance?
iPad 4 versus iPad Air
The iPad Air does come lighter and thinner than its predecessors, but with the ink barely dried, camps are already sharply divided over whether or not this model is better than previous ones.
The iPad 4 measured 9.5 x 7.3 x 0.37 inches, came in black, white and aluminum colors, carried a Dual-core A6X chip, and weighed in at 1.46lbs. Its camera capabilities weren't anything to write home about, but it did have one on the front (1.2-megapixel; 720p HD) and one on the back (5-megapixel camera; 1080p HD video). However, its battery life made it the star of party, with a single charge lasting up to 10h on Wifi and 9h on cellular. Just about whatever you could think of using it for, the iPad 4 was ready and willing.
One of the biggest hype points for the new iPad was that it would be the sleekest model yet. Well...not really. At 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.29 inches, it's shorter and less wide than its older sibling, with the only appreciable edge being its decreased depth bringing it in at 78% of the size. But the size is hardly as noticeable as the Air coming in silver, space gray and aluminum, although the color palette is hardly as daring as that of the iPhone 5c. The cameras and battery life remain exactly the same, but where the Air handily trumps the iPad 4 is in processing speed and weight. A hardly noticeable 1.05lbs nicely disguises the A7 chip's incredible speed and power, giving the Air "desktop class architecture".
iPad Mini versus iPad Mini with Retina Display
Also highly hyped was the showdown between the iPad Mini and its supposed replacement, the iPad Mini 2. Again, Apple played against popular opinion and released, well, pretty much the same iPad Mini but with the new one carrying a Retina Display.
The iPad Mini was essentially a smaller version of the iPad 4, carrying the same colors, camera capabilities and battery life. Its dimensions of 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.28 inches and 0.68lbs were obviously less, as was the Dual-core A5 chip.
iPad Mini with Retina Display
The size and battery life remain exactly unchanged, and the new color selection of space gray/silver/aluminum isn't the main selling feature. No, where the new iPad Mini demands its own spot at the front of the class is with its A7 chip and Retina Display. The new chip, coming with M7 motion coprocessor, can make processing up to twice as fast and has as much as double the graphics power of the A6. Couple that with a display resolution of 2048 by 1536 at 326ppi (compared to the old one's 1024 by 768 at 163ppi), and you've got yourself an iPad Mini that's as clear as a lake on a summer morning.
If nothing else, the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display are worth upgrading to based on the Retina Display and A7 chip alone. Hardcore iPad users will immediately notice a big upgrade in processing speed and resolution clarity, happy that Apple finally gave them more carrot and less stick. But for iPad users who enjoy the hardware on a more casual basis? Stick with what you've got for now.
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