Holiday shoppers have a difficult choice if they are in the market for an iPad. Apple launched the iPad mini just last month, and initial sales of the device have been strong – so strong, in fact, that Apple is having trouble keeping up with demand. Alongside the iPad mini, Apple unveiled the fourth-generation iPad. It carried moderate updates – the highlight of the device is the powerful A6X that powers the device’s retina display.
After the dust had settled, it became clear that the iPad mini’s form factor was fantastic – it was better for reading, easier to carry around, and most importantly was much lighter, which made one-handed use much more feasible.
And yet, the fourth-generation iPad is a technological monster. Its processor is one of the most powerful ARM chips available. The retina display is beautiful. There are more than 200,000 apps developed specifically for the device, and while all of them are fully functional on the iPad mini, they truly shine on the larger iPad.
The differences in the two devices are obvious when used extensively. The iPad mini seems to have been designed for the express purpose of making tablet-optimized iPad apps run on a device that is more portable. That accounts for the screen size being different from traditional 7-inch tablets, and for the resolution being the same as the original iPad. The iPad mini accomplishes this task splendidly – just ask anyone who has chosen the iPad mini over the full-size iPad. Their reasoning for going with a non-retina device that is only $179 cheaper is based solely on the portability of the device.
Yet, the iPad mini is much worse at being a productivity machine. While the iPad can be a productivity machine (just ask the professional writers that use them everyday), the mini can’t. It simply isn’t designed to fit such a use case. That’s the sacrifice of portability. It’s analogous to when netbooks were the craze: while they were small and cheap, they couldn’t be used for content creation due to their cramped keyboard, low resolution, and smaller screens.
Many have prophesied that the iPad mini will overtake the full-size iPad in sales. This seems to be a certainty, and not only because of its lower price. It simply fits the current use case that most people have for a tablet: portability over productivity.