Apple iPad mini with Retina display full review

iPad mini group

The new iPad mini is a tablet for which many people have been waiting eagerly. With it's 'better than HD' Retina screen and new, much faster processor, it's a considerably better tablet. But it's also more expensive, while the old model is still on sale at a lower price.Maybe you already own an iPad mini and are wondering whether to upgrade.

The decision isn't easy, but we're here to help. Read on to find out whether to buy an iPad mini 2 or not.

See also: our in-depth review of the iPad mini with Retina display and: iPad Air vs iPad 2 comparison review.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Price

Apple usual keeps its pricing the same when it brings out a new model of an iPad. However, the iPad mini 2 is £50 more than the previous generation and so starts at £319 instead of £269. The original iPad mini is still on sale but unless you buy second hand is only available in 16 GB with a slight price drop to £249.

The extra £70 for the iPad mini 2 is going to be worth it for the Retina display and A7 processor. You see the full price breakdown in the table below. See also: The top 10 best tablets: What's the best tablet you can buy in 2013?


Apple iPad mini 2

iPad mini

16GB Wi-Fi only



32GB Wi-Fi only



64GB Wi-Fi only



128GB Wi-Fi only



16GB Wi-Fi + 4G



32GB Wi-Fi + 4G



64GB Wi-Fi + 4G



128GB Wi-Fi + 4G



Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Dimensions

On the face of it, the iPad mini 2 looks identical to its predecessor. However, as with the iPad 2 being upgraded to a Retina display for the iPad 3, the tablet is slightly thicker and heavier because of the upgrade. Luckily the small increase in thickness and weight is minimal so you shouldn't worry about it.

The iPad mini colours now reflect the iPad mini 2, iPhone 5S and iPad Air: black/slate grey and white/silver.





Apple iPad mini 2

135 x 200mm


331g (341g 4G)

Apple iPad mini

135 x 200mm


308g (312g 4G)

Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Screen

The iPad mini 2 remains the same size as the original so therefore has a 7.9 in screen which is also LED-backlit and an IPS panel. The key change is that the resolution has been upgraded to Retina quality and is one of the main reasons to opt for the newer model over the original.

iPad mini with Retina display

Apple has doubled the resolution to same as the full-size iPad Air meaning that the pixel density has also doubled and the amount of pixels is four times the iPad mini. That's a big difference and gives the iPad mini 2 the best ppi for any iPad model.




Pixel Density

Apple iPad mini 2




Apple iPad mini




Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini:  Processor

The original iPad mini was a bit underpowered, but the new version gets the same A7 chip that's also inside the new iPad Air. That means it's a 64-bit device, which makes it more future-proof than if it had stuck with a 32-bit processor. It also gets the M7 motion coprocessor, which should help prolong battery life when you’re using fitness or activity tracking apps.

It doesn’t quite live up to Apple’s claims, but the second-gen iPad mini is a LOT faster than the original. In our graphics tests, the Retina-equipped mini ran at 48fps in the Egypt HD test. That’s twice as fast as the original iPad mini. Apple says the new tablet is up to 8x faster, which it may well be in certain apps and games.

Similarly, general 2D performance is impressive. In Geekbench 2, the iPad mini 2 managed 2222 (on average). This is roughly 3x faster than the first iPad mini.

In SunSpider 1.0.2, the new model completed the test in just 397ms – a stunning result. The original iPad mini took an average of 1300ms in the same test, and the new one really does load web pages faster.

iPad mini

Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Storage

Unless you're going to buy a second-hand iPad mini, there is a big difference in terms of storage. The original is still on sale at Apple but only in 16 GB. Meanwhile the iPad mini 2 has a new larger capacity at 128 GB.

There's more flexibility then with the iPad mini 2 and it almost goes without saying that there is not microSD card slot for expansion.


Storage options

microSD slot

Apple iPad mini 2



Apple iPad mini



Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Cameras

Both tablets have a 5Mp rear facing iSight camera and 1.2Mp front-facing FaceTime HD webcam. For photos, there's little to separate the two, but videos shot on the new iPad mini are noticeably sharper - here's an example of footage we took on the iPad mini 2:


Rear Camera

Front Camera

Video (rear/front)

Apple iPad mini 2

5Mp iSight

1.2Mp FaceTime HD


Apple iPad mini

5Mp iSight

1.2Mp FaceTime HD


Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Connectivity

As is typical with new generations of iPads, connectivity remains largely the same, but not entirely. The iPad mini 2 still has the Lightning connector, albeit with a beefier 10W USB power adapter, and Bluetooth 4.0.

However, wireless in terms of Wi-Fi and cellular has been upgraded. It now has dual-antennae and MIMO (multiple input multiple output) which Apple says doubles the speed compared to the original iPad mini (300Mbps versus 150Mbps theoretical).

As per usual, you'll only get GPS if you buy the cellular version of either iPad mini, but the iPad mini 2 has support for more 4G LTE bands making it better suited to roaming.

iPad mini 2

Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Software

When comparing Apple devices with each other, you can essentially ignore the software. Both iPad minis come pre-loaded with iOS 7 if you buy them new now (the original iPad mini can be upgraded from iOS 6 if you buy one second-hand).

However, it's worth noting that iPad mini original owners won't get the benefit of apps optimised for the Retina display and 64-bit processor of the iPad mini 2.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Battery

According to Apple, there's no difference between the two iPad minis for battery life. Despite a more power hungry Retina display, the iPad mini 2 retains the 10 hour benchmark for surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music. That's borne out in our testing, so there's no advantage or disadvantage buying the iPad mini 2 over the iPad mini here.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini: Bottom line

So, which should you buy? If you have an original iPad mini and are thinking of upgrading, then you certainly won't be disappointed. The new screen and better performance really do make a noticeable difference. If you can afford to buy the new model and either sell the old one or give it to a friend or family member, you won't regret it.

If you're choosing between the two, the old model is best for those on a tight budget - there are plenty of deals around if you keep your eyes peeled. We recently saw the 16GB Wi-FI + Cellular model for under £300. However, if money isn't an object, the new iPad mini offers better future proofing and a much better screen.