Which iPad Mini Should You Buy?
Now that the iPad Mini has been added to Apple’s tablet lineup, you’re probably wondering which model you should buy. If you’re impatient and don’t want to read the justification, we’ll go ahead and suggest you should get the base model iPad Mini 16GB and probably in white. If you want more opinion as to why that model is generally the best, read on.
Color: Black or White?
Choosing the device color is probably the toughest decision. White devices are a pleasure to read on because the onscreen text seems to flow out of the borders, but black devices tend to emphasize whats on screen better and are better for watching video. Both devices look beautiful so some of this will be a matter of opinion, but due to the more scuff-prone nature of the black anodized iPhone 5, we’re going to assume the black anodized iPad Mini will be equally sensitive, making the white models appearance more durable. If you’re neurotic about a scratch here and there, get the white model, or get something like a ZAGG Shield.
Verdict: White if you care about scratches being less visible
Storage: Capacity Matters Less Than You Think
Here’s a little secret, I’m considered a power user and I have 10GB available on my 16GB iPad. In fact, with the exception of those who store a lot of movies on their iPads, I don’t know anyone who has used up the 16GB available on a base model iPad. The reasons are fairly simple; with the cloud, streaming services, and normal usage patterns, most users don’t need or use much storage on such devices. iPad is generally used more for media consumption than media storage, and the iPad Mini won’t be any different. Besides, most people use tablets for reading, whether that’s your favorite websites (osxdaily.com right?), saved articles in Pocket or Instapaper, or just tons of iBooks and ebooks, and none of that requires much of any storage capacity.
Verdict: 16GB is plenty
LTE: Don’t Pay for LTE Twice, Use Hotspot Tethering Instead
Question time: in this day and age, when do you not have your phone with you? Just about never, right? Well, your iPhone (or Android) already has 3G or LTE service, and all cell carriers offer Wi-Fi Hotspot tethering service to allow you to connect other devices to the phone and use it as a hotspot. Yes, that means the Wi-Fi only iPad Mini can get on the internet through your iPhone. As a result, there is very little reason to pay for LTE service twice, though there are exceptions to this rule for the data hungry, grandfathered unlimited plans, and some other situations.
Verdict: Skip it, use iPhone Hotspot instead
Resale: Base Models Hold Resale Value Best
If you ever plan on reselling the iPad Mini to upgrade down the road, the base models of iPads, iPhones, and iPods consistently hold the resale value the best. What initially costs $100 more to increase storage or $130 more to get LTE connectivity does not translate into equivalent price differences on the resale market, particularly for older hardware.
Verdict: Spend less now to save more long term
Wait: Do You Even Need an iPad Mini?
Let’s step back a minute, because this whole article assumes you’re in the market for an iPad Mini. Do you actually need one? Well, that probably depends on if you already own an iPad, what you use it for, what you want to use it for, and how many other people use it.
If you have a family who all fight over a single iPad, sure you could probably use an extra iPad and the iPad mini is a great choice.
If you already have an iPad and it only gets used by yourself, you probably don’t need an iPad Mini to go along with it unless the size difference is important.
If you don’t have an iPad at all, the Mini is a very compelling offering, but doesn’t yet offer the Retina display, which means there’s a chance the full sized iPad would be better for you instead (though we still recommend the base model). The retina vs non-retina decision is best made after seeing the screens in person so you can determine if the price and size difference is worth it, but generally speaking it’s hard to go back to a non-retina device after you’ve become accustomed to the ultra high resolution displays.
If you think you need an iPad Mini only because it’s the new shiny gadget, you probably don’t need one. Yet at least.
Finally, if you just bought an iPhone 5 and that excitement is still new, wait a few weeks, enjoy your new iPhone, and circle back on the idea.