Which iPad should I buy: New iPad or iPad mini?

As the new iPad mini and souped-up fourth-generation iPad burst onto the scene, which iPad is right for you: full-size or fun-size?

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As the new iPad mini and souped-up iPad burst onto the scene, which iPad is right for you: full-size or fun-size? Stick with us, kid, and we'll talk you through the options -- including bagging a rare bargain from Apple.

The main difference between the two types of Apple tablets is the size. The new fourth generation of the traditional large iPad boasts a 9.7-inch display, which means it has plenty of room on the screen for watching movies, playing games and browsing the Web.

Meanwhile, the new iPad mini has less space on its 7.9-inch screen, but is more portable. It's not a trouser-pocket proposition, but at 7.2mm thick it's so slim it will fit in a handbag, larger jacket pocket, or even a back pocket if you remember not to sit down.

There's more to screens than size, however. The full-sized iPad has what Apple calls a retina display, which means it has an eye-popping level of detail. The iPad mini doesn't have a retina display, presumably to keep the cost down. Instead, the resolution is 1,024x768-pixels, which equals a middling 168ppi -- not a patch on the full-sized model's 264ppi.

The iPad mini's screen is roughly as detailed as the older iPad 2, and it also has the same dual-core A5 processor inside. The full-sized new iPad has a much faster A6X chip and quad-core graphics, so is likely to be super-responsive at browsing, burning through apps and playing games. But the iPad 2 was far from sluggish, and a less powerful chip uses less battery juice. We reckon you'd only notice a significant difference between the two with really complex tasks such as video editing on your tablet.

Both new iPads have 4G gubbins built-in, so you use them on the UK's first 4G network , which is launched by EE next week.

They also both have the same Lightning dock connector, 5-megapixel camera with 1080p video, and the same iOS software and apps built-in. One difference is that the iPad mini takes tiny nano-SIM cards, while the fourth-generation iPad sticks with the marginally larger micro-SIM.

Conclusion

The iPad is roomier and more powerful, but the iPad mini is more portable and still beefy enough for everyday tasks. Ultimately then, the deciding features are size and price.

The 16GB iPad mini starts at £269, a full £130 cheaper than the £399 required for the 16GB fourth-generation iPad. 3G adds £100 to both tablets, so the 3G mini starts at £369 and the iPad starts at £499.

And the budget option? Apple has got rid of all previous versions of the iPad, even though the most recent third-generation model is barely seven months old. Fortunately that means refurbished models of that third-generation iPad are available for a mere £315 , complete with retina display and old-style dock connector.

What's the alternative?

You don't need to get an iPad at all, of course: the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are substantially cheaper than the iPad mini -- click here for our head-to-head battle between the iPad mini and its Android rivals .

Meanwhile the full-sized iPad is challenged by the likes of the Asus Transformer Prime and the Microsoft Surface.

Which is the iPad for you -- or are they all a waste of money? Tell me which you think is the best tablet in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Tags:
Tablets
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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