iPad Air vs. iPad Mini 2: Which is best?

In our iPad Air vs iPad Mini 2 review, we compare specs, battery life and pricing...

With the iPad Pro 9.7-inch launched and possibly a new iPad Air 3 in the offing, it is time to look back at the original iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display to see if they still hold up to scrutiny.

(You can see all the news and rumours on the iPad Air 3 here)

Back in late 2013, Apple announced two new tablets that would add to both their iPad and iPad mini ranges. What arrived was the iPad Air, with its larger 9.7-inch screen, and the 7.9-inch iPad Mini with Retina Display. Both have now been put through their paces and thoroughly tested, and our verdict can be found below.

To help you choose which is the right tablet for you, we’ve taken a look at various specifications such as display, battery life, software and more.

IT Pro put the devices head-to-head in the following categories:

Battery Life Hardware/Connectivity/Reparability

Latest News

07/03/2016: The iPad Air 3 is to be named the iPad Pro, rumours strongly indicate, with Apple dropping the 'Air' branding after the iPad Air 2.

The news comes from MacRumors, which states that the 9.7-inch tablet, long thought to be the next in Apple's iPad Air line, will instead be launched as a smaller iPad Pro.

It will share many specs and features with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, such as an A9X processor, upgraded RAM, support for the Apple Pencil and updated display technology. A smaller smart connector and keyboard will be released to fit the smaller tablet.

Also rumoured is Apple's plan to scale back production of the iPad Mini 2 and iPad Air models, leaving the company with the two iPad Pros, the iPad mini 4 and the iPad Air 2 as their tablet line-up.

The company is holding a media event on 15 March, where the iPad Pro will likely make its appearance.


The iPad Air is the largest model currently available, with a 9.7-inch screen, whereas the iPad mini 2 sports a smaller 7.9-inch screen. Both have the same 4:3 ratio.

The bigger screen size obviously makes the iPad Air the better option for viewing media such as TV shows, films or for gaming, though the iPad Mini 2 packs the same number of pixels into its smaller screen.

The iPad Mini 2 is the lighter option, with the device’s weight starting at 314g. The weight of the larger iPad Air starts at 478g though the thickness of both is the same – packing a 7.5mm chassis.

Both devices use Apple’s Retina Display technology, so you won’t be able to see any pixels when holding them at arm’s length. The Air has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 and a pixel density of 224ppo. The iPad mini 2 has the same resolution, just spread across a smaller area, giving it a denser 324ppi.

The iPad Air (below) has the edge when it comes to brightness and contrast ratio. Measuring the maximum brightness to be 410cd/m2 and contrast ratio at 1,000:1.

In comparison, the iPad Mini 2 (below) clocked a maximum brightness of 396cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 729:1.

The best choice when it comes to the two displays has a lot to do with your size preference. Do you want a portable device to fit into a large coat pocket, or do you want the biggest possible screen?

Winner - iPad Air - The Air is technically the superior display with higher brightness and contrast ratio.


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