In November, Apple announced the iPad Mini, which shared features between the iPad 2 and new iPad with Retina display.
So, what’s the difference between the iPad Mini and the iPad 2? For one, the mini has the same 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD (720p-capable) front camera and 5-megapixel (1080p-capable) back camera as the fourth-generation iPad, and also have enhanced wireless capabilities, offering Bluetooth 4.0 and improved 5.0GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi performance. Needless to say, it comes with the new Lightning connector and uses nano-SIM, similar to the iPhone 5. If you look at the dimensions and the weight of the iPad Mini, you will notice that it weighs considerably less for its size as compared to iPad 2 or 3rd/4th generation iPads.
Now – the similarities between the mini and iPad 2. To keep the iPad mini light and still possess decent battery life, some of the design considerations were to adopt the resolution of the iPad 2 instead of retina. Hence the resolution was capped at 1024×768 (same as iPad 2) providing 163 pixels per inch (ppi) resolution. It uses the same dual-core A5 processor, at the same clock speed, as the iPad 2. It also run on the same amount of 512MB of RAM.
There were talks abounding in the Internet that the next version of iPad mini, touted as the iPad Mini Gen 2, is already in the works, as chipmakers are currently preparing for the next-generation iPad mini. Speculations has it that it would be launching in Spring 2013 (i.e. around March 2013), sport the Retina display, running at a full resolution of 2048×1536, in order to be pixel-compatible with other iPads. It would probably sport twice the RAM (i.e. 1GB RAM), and a dual-core A6X chip with quad-core graphics capabilities. I am just concerned that battery life might take a hit in view of the enhanced specifications, so let’s wait for the Apple engineers to work out the magic to keep battery life hovering around 9 to 10 hours.
To some, the iPad Mini was a change in direction after Steve Jobs (he said 7-inch screen was too small to express the software). Others said it was a stop-gap measure (and a milk-the-consumer-while-you-build strategy) against the torrent of 7-inch tablet flooding the market. Yet others said the screen was ancient in the light of the speed at which tablet technologies move.
Nonetheless, the million-dollar question then begs to be answered – to buy the iPad Mini now, or wait for the iPad Mini Gen 2 to come out in March? If you value the form factor, can live with a less-than-retina screen and cannot wait, then the iPad Mini is the way to go now. If you can wait patiently (assuming it does come out in Mar 2013), then perhaps you should continue saving the dollars for the superior specs (and a more snappy performance) of the iPad Mini Gen 2 – fingers crossed.