So many Apple iPads: Which one is the best buy?

With two new iPads all set to enter the Indian market tomorrow, we now have a total of five iPads to choose from

With two new iPads all set to enter the Indian market tomorrow, it not just adds to tablet options overall, but also gives Apple fans a peculiar conundrum - which one do you pick. So, currently, you have five options to pick from – the iPad 2, iPad with Retina display (fourth generation), iPad mini, iPad mini with Retina display and iPad Air. Considering Apple recently raised the price of the older iPads, makes our job slightly easier, but there are a lot of other factors to consider.

Let’s begin with the older iPads that are already available in the market. First off, surprisingly, the iPad 2 released in March 2011 is still available along with the fourth generation iPad with Retina display and iPad mini. Needless to say, the fourth generation iPad is more powerful and feature-packed than the other two. Sporting a 9.7-inch Retina display, it is powered by a dual-core A6X chip and runs on iOS 6. The A6X chip is said to offer two times the CPU and graphics performance compared to the chip used in the 2nd-gen iPad.

So many Apple iPads: Which one is the best buy?

Thinner and more powerful, the iPad Air


The iPad 2 and iPad mini are more or less the same in terms of performance and specs. While, the iPad 2 has a 9.7-inch LED-backlit display with a resolution of 1024 x 768, and pixel density of 132 ppi, the first-generation iPad mini sports a smaller 7.9 inches display and the same resolution. They both share the A5 processor. However, the mini has a higher pixel density of 163 pixels per inch. Some other differentiators are the Lightning connector on the mini, the smaller tablet's iSight camera 5MP rear camera with 1080p recording.

Moving towards newer iPads which are all set to enter the market, the Retina iPad mini and iPad Air have already received rave reviews. The iPad with Retina display and iPad Air have a very similar set of specifications. Both are powered by the company’s latest A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor and run on iOS 7, making them the fastest iPads so far. They also become the first devices to come with 64-bit architecture, and now the rest manufactures are set to follow. The new A7 processor claims to offer more than four times the CPU and eight times the graphics performance when compared to A6X chip.

Both come with next-generation FaceTime HD camera, featuring larger pixels and improved backside illumination sensors for better low-light performance. Some other common features include 5MP iSight camera with 1080p recording, HDR, VGA FaceTime camera with 720p recording, Backside illumination and lightening connector. On the battery front, both promise up to 10 hours surfing over Wi-Fi and up to 9 hours using cellular network.


iPad galore

iPad galore



However, the game-changers here are the design and the build quality. The iPad Air is ridiculously light for its 9.7-inch Retina display at 264 pixels per inch. The bezel is 43 percent thinner, and the tablet is 7.5mm thin, which is 20 percent thinner than the iPad 4. We feel fitting such high-end internals in a tablet this size is a major achievement. So it's an even more impressive feat on the mini. The new mini has a smaller 7.9 inch Retina display and a smaller footprint, but has the same internals as the bigger iPad. Owing to the smaller display size, the pixel density is slightly bumped up to 326 pixels per inch.

Now, let’s talking about one of the main deciding factors – price. Last week, Apple took everyone by surprise by increasing back the prices of the iPad mini and iPad 2, which it had slashed in June. The table below shows the price at which the Retina iPad mini and iPad Air will be launched. It should be noted that the table shows the base models only, the new iPads are also available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB storage options.


iPad model

iPad 2

New iPad

iPad mini

iPad mini with Retina display

iPad Air

Release date






Display size








1024x768 (132 ppi)

2048x1536 (264 ppi)

1024x768 (163 ppi)


2048x1536 (326 ppi)

2048x1536 (264ppi)


Rs 28,900 (16GB, Wi-Fi only)
Rs 37,900 (16GB, Wi-Fi + 3G)

Rs. 31,900 (16GB Wi-Fi only)                        Rs 39,900 (16GB, Wi-Fi + 3G only)

Rs 21,900 (16GB, Wi-Fi only)
Rs 30,900 (16GB, Wi-Fi + 3G only)

Rs 28,900 (16GB Wi-Fi only)           Rs 37,900 (16GB, Wi-Fi + 3G)           

Rs 35,900 (16GB Wi-Fi only)
Rs 44,900 (16GB Wi-Fi + 3G)


Now, if Apple retains these prices, then those without a budget constraint and looking for a 10-inch tablet can outright pick the sleek and powerful iPad Air. However, I think the Retina iPad mini is a steal for that price, and is Rs 7,000 cheaper than the iPad Air. Firstly, it has similar specifications as the Air including the 64-bit processor and has a denser display than the Air. Moreover, it is just an inch smaller than the Air and almost half its weight, making it a highly portable device, without sacrificing too much in terms of display size. So if you are shopping for a new iPad this year, we recommend the new Retina iPad mini.

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