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iPad mini 2 Retina vs iPad mini

The best things come in small packages

The iPad mini 2 with Retina display has been announced next to the iPad Air, and it is set to become one of this year’s most wanted Christmas presents.

However, is it worth considering if you already own an iPad mini? Let’s take a closer look at what’s new in the iPad mini 2.

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Same looks, slightly different colours

From whatever angle you look at it, the iPad mini 2 looks an awful lot like its predecessor. Apple didn’t need to change the diddy tablet’s style in this second generation.

The colours have changed a mite, though. Where the iPad mini is black or white (with silver trim), the iPad mini 2 comes in white/silver and what Apple calls ‘space grey’. It’s a dark, dusky grey that’s lighter than the back of the black iPad mini.

A benefit of using a lighter shell means that scratches in the aluminium back will be less apparent. Plus it looks pretty good in its own right.

iPad mini 2 video preview

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Updated processor

One of the weakest parts of the first iPad mini was its processor. In many higher-end games, more action-packed sections can become a complete lag-fest. Apple has solved that sort of problem (for now at least) by using the A7-generation 64-bit processor used in the iPhone 5S.

This is perhaps the most important change in terms of giving the iPad mini the power it needs to keep up with the latest-generation iPhones and full-size iPads. For the last 2 months, the iPad mini has been the poor relation of the iPad 4, using the same generation of processor as the iPhone 4S. Ouch.

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Retina display

The iPad mini 2 has also been given the much-anticipated upgrade to a Retina display.  The vertical and horizontal pixel counts of the iPad have been doubled, resulting in a quadrupling of the number of pixels. It’s a huge increase.

However, it was also a necessary one. Next to the Nexus 7 2, the first iPad mini’s screen looks seriously blocky – a damning fact given the Google tablet is significantly cheaper.

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Slimmer body

Although it was behind the curve technologically, the iPad mini was well ahead of it in terms of design. It was the tablet that defined what many tablets of the future are likely to look like – with a much narrower screen bezel that we tend to see a lot more now.

The look of the tablet hasn’t changed much, but there are some very slight differences in dimensions. The iPad mini 2 is 0.3mm thicker and 0.2mm wider than the first model. You would never notice such a difference in-use, but it helps the second-gen model to fit in its new, more advanced components.

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Updated camera

The iPad mini has a 5-megapixel camera. The Mini 2 with Retina display still has a 5-megapixel camera, but the sensor has been improved, along with the camera processing.

We expect low-light performance to be better in the new model. But it still doesn’t have a flash so will be pretty useless when the light go down.

Early Verdict

Is the iPad mini 2 worth the upgrade? It all depends on what you’re after from a tablet, and whether the iPad mini’s shortcomings bother you. If frame rate drops in 3D games and the blockiness of visuals in the first-gen mode are getting you down, look for somewhere to offload the old model and get yourself a fresh one. If those two things aren’t concerns, we suggest holding onto your iPad mini. There’s life in the little pooch yet.

Next, read our iPad Air vs iPad 4 comparison

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