iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini

iPad mini 2
A versus of miniature proportions

Anybody who follows Apple's technology launches knows that the new iPad mini, aka the iPad mini 2, was going to be an iterative improvement.

Apple doesn't need to reinvent its 7.9-inch tablet. Not for version 2 anyway. It's not sufficiently threatened by the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire HD.

All the new iPad mini needed was a speed boost and a Retina display to match its bigger brother. And that's just what we've got. Here's how the two compare.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Apple iPad mini: Design

Anyone expecting a redesign of the iPad mini will be disappointed. But why fix something that isn't broken? There isn't a fingerprint sensor either. Apple is probably keeping the technology back for the inevitable iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2.

As for the two iPad minis, the size difference between the two is almost imperceptible. Comparing the Wi-Fi plus Cellular versions, the iPad mini 2 measures 200.0 x 134.7 x 7.5mm, while the original iPad mini is 200.0 x 134.7 x 7.2mm. That's only a 0.3mm difference.

When it comes to weight, things are little more obvious. With its Retina display and A7 processor, the new iPad mini is slightly tubbier than its predecessor. It weighs in at 341g - 29g heavier than the original model, which tipped the scales at 312g.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Apple iPad mini: Display

Seeing a Retina display on the new iPad mini hardly comes as a surprise. The improved 7.9-inch display is exactly what we expected and it bumps up the resolution of the mini iPad from 768 x 1024 pixels to 1536 x 2048 pixels. To put that in context, the new screen has 3,145,728 pixels in total, 2,359296 more than the previous iPad mini. The difference is clear - the new mini has a Pixels Per Inch rating of 326, while the old one can only muster 163.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Apple iPad mini: Camera

There have been a few tweaks to the iPad mini 2's cameras, but again, they are relatively minor. The rear cameras still share same five-element, 5MP lens with a f/2.4 aperture. They both have a feature set that includes autofocus, face detection, Backside illumination, a Hybrid IR filter, tap to focus, tap to control exposure, geotagging, HDR and 1080p video recording.

At first glance, the front-facing 1.2 Megapixel FaceTime camera doesn't look any different either. But dig into the specs and you'll notice that it now includes a Backside Illumination Sensor (BIS) that will boost the camera's performance in poor lighting conditions. No more dingy-looking selfies.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Apple iPad mini: Connectivity

At first glance, everything looks the same here, too. Like the original model, the new iPad mini is available in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi plus cellular versions, which incorporate 3G/HSDPA, CDMA and LTE (where available). Both also feature 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

But the difference lies in the Wi-Fi chip inside the newer iPad mini. It supports dual channel (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi with MIMO for superior wireless connectivity. It doesn't sound like much, but the Multiple Input Multiple Output technology here has long been in use on broadband routers and can effectively double data download speeds.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Apple iPad mini: Processor

The improved processor inside the iPad mini 2 is another reason why the new mini model is a significant improvement over the original. Where the first-gen iPad mini debuted with the dual-core A5 processor that powered the iPad 2, the new model uses the same chip that powers the flagship iPhone 5S - a 64-bit dual-core A7 CPU with an M7 motion co-processor.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Apple iPad mini: Storage

Storage-wise the iPad mini 2 is available with 16, 32, 64 or 128GB storage options, matching the capacities of the 9.7-inch iPad. The older iPad mini didn't have a 128GB option and Apple now only offers a 16GB model.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Apple iPad mini: Battery Life

With each new iPad launch, and no matter what technology is crammed in, Apple is careful to retain 10 hours of battery life. The new iPad mini is no exception and it's put on a little extra weight to compensate for the new Retina display and A7 processor.

Apple iPad mini 2 vs Apple iPad mini: Early verdict

As iterative improvements go, the new iPad mini offers some compelling reasons to upgrade. The A7 processor gives it a dramatic speed boost and while the M7 co-processor has some potential, the switch from a 32-bit architecture to 64-bit is arguably more important - expect other mobile manufacturers to follow suit. Ultimately, all Apple needed to do to turn a good iPad mini into a great iPad mini was to add a Retina display and not make it exorbitantly pricey. At $479, it's a job well done.