What's better: A $329 iPad Mini or $319 iPad 2?

While supplies last, Apple is offering the refurbished (but good-as-new) iPad 2 for less than the price of a new Mini. Which is the better buy?

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
With a price difference of only $10, which would you choose?
With a price difference of only $10, which would you choose? Sarah Tew/CNET

As Ned Flanders would say: here's a dilly of a pickle!

You've probably heard that the iPad Mini went on sale today, with a price tag of $329 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model.

What you may not know is that the online Apple Store now sells the refurbished iPad 2 with Wi-Fi (16GB) for $319 shipped. (It's also available in white for that price.)

That begs a very interesting question: with a price difference of just $10, which is the smarter buy? (I know, I know: "The Kindle Fire!" Ba-dump-bump. We're here to compare Apples and Apples, people -- literally.)

It might seem obvious to choose a new unit over something that's refurbished, but as I've pointed out many times before, Apple refurbs are quite literally good as new. The $319 iPad 2 will come with a new outer shell, new battery, and one-year warranty. There's literally no downside.

Meanwhile, much has been made of the fact that the iPad Mini shares a lot of the iPad 2's DNA. Both have Apple's dual-core A5 processor, and both have a 1,024x768-pixel screen. These two models each have Wi-Fi and 16GB of storage. Both can record HD video, though the iPad 2 tops out at 720p while the Mini shoots at 1080p (meaning it'll burn through that 16GB that much quicker). The Mini has a much better rear-facing camera.

On the flipside, the Mini saddles you with the Lightning connector -- not a great option if you already own a lot of dock-connector cables and accessories.

So, there you have it: nearly identical iPads, one with a 7.9-inch screen, one with a 9.7-inch screen. One priced at $329, and the other at $319. Decisions, decisions.

I think the $319 iPad 2 is the deal to beat. It's the same model that sold new for $499 as recently as March. And although it's not as easy to one-hand as the iPad Mini, well, where tablets are concerned, many users find bigger to be better.

Your thoughts?

Watch this: Unboxing the iPad Mini