iPad mini with Retina display vs iPad mini – what’s the difference? [video]

by , Senior Technology Researcher Tablets 28/11/2013

Apple’s iPad line-up now includes both the original iPad mini and the new iPad mini with Retina display. They look pretty similar but how do you decide which one to go for?

The original mini is tempting, especially as it comes with a cheaper price tag of £249 for its 16GB wi-fi model. That said, the updated iPad mini with Retina display includes a few upgrades and features designed to trump the original. Here we take a look its design, screen and processor so you can decide whether its latest iPad’s £319 asking price is good value.

Best Buy tablets – we reveal the tablets that topped our tests in our full reviews

iPad mini with Retina display vs iPad mini – video

iPad mini with Retina display vs iPad mini – design

Put these two iPads side-by-side and it’s very tricky to tell them apart. They both have a 7.9-inch screen and they’re the same height and width. There is a very slight difference in the depth but this is extremely hard to tell with the naked eye. The new mini has put on 28g of weight, which is down to its new screen and processor, but it is still light enough to hold easily in one hand. In terms of design, these two tablets are near-identical twins.

iPad mini with Retina display vs iPad mini – three key features

A Retina display screen – the original iPad mini has a resolution of 1,024×768 whereas the new mini packs in a lot more pixels with its 2,048×1,536 Retina display. You have to look carefully to see the difference between the two screens. On close inspection, it’s clear that the new mini does have a sharper screen.

The difference really comes into focus when you look at text. On the new mini the characters are crisp and distinct whereas on the old mini the edges are slightly frayed. This makes the new iPad mini with Retina display better than ever for reading ebooks and text online.

Faster A7 processor – the new mini comes with an upgraded A7 processor chip that excelled in our speed tests and actually close at the heels of the full-sized iPad Air. It’s especially good for multitasking across several apps at once and handling 3D gaming downloads with any hassle. In contrast, the original iPAd mini is powered by the A5 chip first used on the iPad 2 and was outperformed by numerous rivals in our speed tests.

Better for battery life? – Apple claims that the new mini will last for 10-hours when surfing the web, watching a video or listening to music. If this is true then it’s very impressive because it would mean no drop in battery life despite the addition of the power guzzling screen and processor. We’ll put these claims to test in our lab.

Which? expert verdict – the iPad mini with Retina display edges ahead

jess finalFor the proud owners of the old iPad mini, the good news is that you don’t need to rush out and upgrade. Both models look and behave in much the same way and they are capable of carrying out much the same tasks.

The main difference, as the name suggests, is that the new iPad has the famed Retina screen. And although most people in our video test above were able to pick out the new mini by looking at the screen – they did have to look closely to identify the difference.

Both iPad minis are sleek and well designed. Anyone unwrapping one this Christmas will undoubtedly be pleased no matter which model they get. But it does make sense to get the upgraded version if you can find the extra £70. The extra processor power means that its better equipped to stand the test of time – in other words it has more oomph to deal with power hungry apps and games of the future.
Jessica Moreton – Senior Researcher-Writer

More on this

iPad Air vs iPad mini with Retina display - how do they stack up?
iPad mini with Retina display – our 60 second guide
Tablet reviews – the latest tablets fully reviewed by Which?


Add your comments


Paul Matthews (member)

I think you can see the difference but perhaps not at a quick glance



The term “Retina Display” is presumably to get us used to the concept of retina scanning; the next step in the Big Brother surveillance agenda.



Do you look under your bed every night?



Inane comment, pure mind fart



mind smelly…do you mean? You must be mentally hungry… or something from the boredom planet? Buy the ipad mini 2…., look under everything, it’s got your number, retinex.. you’re off my xmas card list.



The second generation (2013) Android Nexus 7 is by far the best one to have, excelling spectacularly and almost infinitely customisable.



By the way Which? techies, we are in GMT now, not BST, so you need to put your website clock back one hour!



good info, not a life – threat! Thanks Which!



The biggest difference for me between the old iPad mini and the new one is the extra capacity. In fact I am considering replacing my aged 64 Gbyte iPod with a 128 Gbyte iPad mini, for an eye-watering €669 (£559).



I made the change from 64GB to 128GB Retina and I believe that it is value for money. The old Mini was brilliant, but the 128GB Retina machine is outstanding in capacity, looks, screen, speed, everything!



I think that you should have done the test with a photograph. Then the results would have been conclusive (depending on the quality of the photo).

Back to top

Post a Comment

Commenting guidelines

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked

Tired of typing your name and email? Why not register.

Register or Log in