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Five Reasons to Upgrade to the iPad Mini with Retina Display

Jason R. Rich focuses on the iPad mini with Retina display and explains some of the reasons why you might want to upgrade from the original iPad mini to this new model; upgrade from a full-size iPad to the new iPad mini; or get your first taste of using an iPad with this new, thin, and lightweight tablet.
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The Apple iPads have revolutionized the way people use tablets at home, at work, in school, and while on the go. These devices are powerful communication, productivity, and organizational tools that can be fully customized to handle a very wide range of needs.

Meanwhile, just a few years ago, the idea of a notebook computer that weighed less than 8 to 10 pounds was unheard of, and a tablet was simply considered to be a gadget for geeks instead of to a viable computing device that could replace the need for a notebook computer altogether.

Today, when we look at mobile devices, notebook computers, or tablets that weigh more than 1 or 2 pounds are considered too heavy and cumbersome. In fact, we're being spoiled by powerful technology that's literally at our fingertips whenever and wherever we want it to be.

For example, the full-size iPads, with their 9.7-inch (diagonal) displays, now weigh about 1 pound and have a battery that lasts upwards of 10 hours. For some people, the size and weight of even the latest iPad Air is too large and heavy.

To address the desire of tablet users who want a powerful computing device that is thin, lightweight, and fits nicely within your hands, Apple now offers the iPad mini with Retina display. When compared with the original iPad mini, this new model offers a handful of improvements that give tablet users some viable reasons to consider upgrading.

So, if you're currently using the original iPad mini, you're a full-size iPad user who is looking for something that's smaller and lighter, or you're thinking about investing in an iPad for the first time, the following are five reasons to consider the iPad mini with Retina display.

1: It Is Thin and Lightweight

The newly designed iPad mini with Retina display is 7.87 inches high by 5.3 inches wide, and is just 0.29 inches thick. Thus, it can be comfortably held for extended periods of time, without causing fatigue in your hands, fingers, wrists, or arms. And, depending on which iPad mini with Retina display system configuration you choose, the device weighs just 1.33 or 1.35 pounds.

Despite its smaller size, the iPad mini with Retina display runs all the apps in the same way as the full-size iPad. Yet many people prefer the smaller sized device because it's easier to hold in their hands and carry around.

2: Retina Display

The iPad mini with Retina display features a 2048 by 1536 resolution Retina LED Multi-Touch display that uses 326 pixels per inch within its 7.9-inch (diagonal display). Compare this with the original iPad mini's 1024 by 768 resolution display that uses 163 pixels per inch within its 7.9-inch display. As a result, the new Retina display built in to the latest iPad mini models can showcase stunningly detailed, full-color, high-definition graphics and video.

The improvements made to the Retina display are particularly noticeable when viewing high-resolution digital photos or HD video, or when playing graphic-intensive games that have been optimized for the Retina display.

3: Apple's A7 Processor

The primary processor chip—which is inside the iPad mini with Retina display and allows the iOS 7 operating system and all the tablet's apps to function—is Apple's proprietary A7 chip. It offers 64-bit architecture and an M7 motion coprocessor.

In plain English, what this means is that the new iPad mini with Retina display is roughly twice as fast as the original iPad mini (which utilizes the A5 processor), and it's eight times faster than the processor that was built into the original iPad.

The A7 chip allows the iPad mini with Retina display to run numerous apps simultaneously, so you can be using one app but have several apps running in the background, and then quickly switch between apps.

When you use apps that require a lot of computing power, such as the Numbers app (in conjunction with powerful spreadsheets), Pages (for word processing), the Photos app (to view high-resolution digital images), or a game that requires fast processing, plus fast-moving and high-resolution graphics, you will notice a huge increase in the speed and responsiveness of this newest iPad.

For example, if you were using Pages for word processing and attempting to touch type quickly, the older iPad models had a very difficult time keeping up, which often resulted in a sluggish response and an increase in typos. This problem is virtually gone thanks to the A7 processor and improved Pages app, so fast typing when word processing on the tablet is now viable, using either the iPad's virtual keyboard or an external keyboard.

4: Extended Battery Life

When performing most tasks on the iPad mini with Retina display, you can expect the battery to last about 10 hours per charge. This will be a bit shorter, however, if you're using a Wi-Fi + Cellular model and spending a lot of time surfing the Internet using a 3G or 4G (LTE) cellular data connection.

5: Price

Across the board, regardless of which system configuration of the iPad mini with Retina display you choose, the price is $100.00 less than the comparable (full-size) iPad Air. Thus, you can upgrade to the latest iPad mini model starting at $399.00.

The following chart shows suggested retail pricing for the iPad mini with Retina display, compared with the original iPad mini and the latest iPad Air models.


iPad Mini with Retina Display

Original iPad Mini

iPad Air

16GB Wi-Fi only




16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular




32GB Wi-Fi only


No longer available from Apple


32GB Wi-Fi + cellular


No longer available from Apple


64GB Wi-Fi only


No longer available from Apple


64GB Wi-Fi + cellular


No longer available from Apple


128GB Wi-Fi only


No longer available from Apple


128 Wi-Fi + cellular


No longer available from Apple


Various retailers are currently running promotions that can save you $50.00 or more on a new iPad mini with Retina display. For example, some retailers are offering a sale price, and others are giving away a free gift card in conjunction with a new iPad purchase. Others are offering up to $150.00 when you trade in any old iPad model.

Refurbished iPad mini with Retina display units are also sometimes available from Apple Stores and other retailers at a discounted price. Some retailers and online-based companies sell previously owned (used) iPads at lower prices than what you'll pay when buying a brand new unit.

Keep in mind that in addition to the iPad mini with Retina display, you'll probably want to invest in a few optional accessories, including AppleCare+ ($99.00 for 2 years), a case or Smart Cover, a clear protective film for the display, an external (Bluetooth) keyboard, a rechargeable battery pack, desktop stand, and/or pen-shaped stylus. Prices for these optional accessories vary greatly but can help expand the functionality of the tablet.

Final Thoughts...

If you're already an iPad user but still using an older iPad model, you'll definitely want to upgrade to either the iPad mini with Retina display or the full-size iPad Air. When choosing between the two, keep in mind that the technology within these two tablets is comparable. What's different is the screen size (9.7 inches versus 7.9 inches, diagonal), as well as the size and weight of the unit.

Ultimately, whether you go with a full-size iPad Air or the iPad mini with Retina display comes down to a matter of personal preference and what feels most comfortable in your hands—based on how you'll be using the tablet on a daily basis.

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