On Tuesday, Apple unveiled its new fourth generation iPad and a new smaller iPad Mini.
Now, the questions come: should you buy a Mini?
Should you buy an iPad 4?
If you just bought the iPad third generation (“the new iPad”) are you upset that there’s a newer better version just six months after you bought, if you bought on launch day? And what if you bought one last month?
First let’s look at the Mini. It’s an iPad you can hold easily in one hand. It’s got an A5 processor, like the iPad 2, but it doesn’t have a Retina Display screen, like the iPad 4. Still, in every other way, the iPad Mini is a smaller and much lighter version of i4.
It’s a hard choice. Some people may like the smaller size and the iPad Mini blows iPad 2 out of the water, with better cameras, better connectivity options and more features. The Retina Display is a wonderful feature, but it’s not as though the iPad 2 screen was rummage.
So the choice, ultimately, is about size and money.
iPad Mini is 7.9 inches of screen. iPad 4 is 9.7, but the Mini is much thinner and nearly a pound lighter. If you’re doing a lot of reading on your device, it’s going to be hard to say no to the Mini.
The other issue is cost. You can buy a Mini starting at $329 or $459 with cellular. That’s cheaper than the $499 entry price point for the WiFi only 9.7 inch iPad 4. But you’re giving up screen real estate and that aforementioned Retina Display.
We would’ve liked to have seen a retina option for the Mini but that’s likely to come later.
Ultimately, these are individual decisions that will likely hinge around whether you feel iPad Mini is big enough. This is probably not something we’d pre-order sight unseen or better, product un-felt.
Our bigger questions now revolve around launch cycles.
Is Apple now moving iPad to the fall? Usually we’d be looking at a March iPad launch. We’d imagine a few customers probably weren’t thrilled that the iPad 3 they bought in March/June/August is no longer state of the art, but that’s technology. It marches on.
Still, this was simply a refresh. Apple got the new Lightning cable connector in iPad 4 and an A6X processing chip that will double the speed of an already lightning fast machine. By not putting Retina and the A6X on the Mini, Apple left its gold standard model as the original larger version, but ease of use, weight issues and easier carry may make folks drift to the Mini.
Plus, it is cheaper.
But is it cheap enough? Apple faces a lot of competition at the $199 price point and Google is said to be releasing a $99 Nexus soon. The guess here is when iPad Mini is refreshed, be it March or next October, the original Mini will drop to by $100 to $229 WiFi, just as the iPad 2 dropped from $499 to $399 for 16 gig when Apple released iPad 3 earlier this year.
If Apple is able to do that with the price points, maybe it makes sense to drop a spring refresh to get aggressive with price, and if the iPad 4 dropped to $399 at the same time as Apple released some hot new iPad 5 at $499, it would make the competitors’ collective knees’ shake.