iPad 2 vs iPad Mini Retina: What Buyers Need to Know

The iPad 2 is expected to be getting the boot at some point this year, according to rumors, which would end the tablet’s three-year reign as an active seller in the Apple Store. The company has kept the older tablet around despite its usual tradition of phasing out older products around two years after they’re released, but Apple claims that the iPad 2 is still popular amongst schools and businesses.

However, it looks like Apple will be making way for a new entry-level iPad to take over that duty sometime this year.

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In any case, though, this is merely just rumor and the iPad 2 is still alive and well in the Apple Store for the time being. Selling for $399, the iPad 2 is at the same price point as the newer iPad mini with Retina display. This poses a tough decision for prospective iPad buyers: Should you get the full-size iPad with the larger screen, or sacrifice screen real estate for faster performance?

UPDATE: The iPad 2 has been officially discontinued, so take a  look at our iPad 4 vs. iPad mini Retina comparison.

Hardware

Unlike the iPad 2 and the original iPad mini, the hardware differences between the iPad 2 and the iPad mini with Retina display is quite contrast. The iPad 2 comes with older Apple hardware — namely an A5 processor that boasts 1 GHz of dual core-ness, while the iPad mini with Retina display sports the latest A7 64-bit processor.

As for storage, the latest iPad mini comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB flavors, while Apple is only selling the 16GB version of the iPad 2 after discontinuing the 32GB and 64GB models. If you’re needing more than 16GB of storage, your decision is pretty much made up for you, as the new iPad mini is the only way to go when it comes down to these two tablets.

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The iPad 2 comes with a 9.7-inch display, while the iPad mini Retina rocks a smaller 7.9-inch screen. However, you’ll get twice the resolution with the new iPad mini, which rocks a 2048 x 1536 display, while the iPad 2 is limited to a lowly 1024×768. Granted, you won’t get twice the screen real estate, but images and text will appear much clearer and sharper on the iPad mini, making it the ideal choice for pixel density snobs.

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Let’s also not forget that the iPad 2 still uses the older 30-pin connector on the bottom, whereas the iPad mini Retina uses the newer Lightning connector, making it a good option for those who have already upgraded to the new Apple cable standard because of their newer iPhone or iPod.

Software

iOS 7 is available on the iPad 2, as well as the iPad mini with Retina Display, but the iPad 2 may not see further software updates if it gets discontinued later this year (most discontinued iOS product don’t get software updates).

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Of course, the new iPad mini is obviously going to get software updates for at least the next couple of years. It’ll probably see iOS 8 and iOS 9, but iOS 10 might be pushing it. Obviously, that’s a little too far into the future, but we like to think ahead for sure.

Despite the iPad 2 threatened to get booted from Apple’s current lineup, iOS 7.1 may still be headed to the legacy tablet, but we can pretty much guarantee that will be the last update that the three-year old tablet will get.

Price

This is where it gets a bit tricky and a little confusing when you try to think about what Apple was thinking when pricing its tablets. Both the iPad 2 and the newer iPad mini with Retina Display are priced at $399. Essentially the only advantage to the iPad 2 is its larger display, but that’s it. If you absolutely need a larger display, the iPad 2 might be for you, but just know that you’re probably getting ripped off.

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However, the iPad 2 normally costs $399 directly from Apple, but you can usually find them on sale, like at Walmart for $299. The older tablet probably won’t be around for much longer, though, and stores are clearly out their inventory, so expect more deals later this year.

Wrap-Up

So which tablet is the better buy? It’s pretty obvious that the iPad mini with Retina Display is the tablet to get if you’re deciding between that and the iPad 2. It’s pretty baffling that both tablets are the same price considering how vastly different they are spec-wise.

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While we’re not including the iPad Air in this comparison, it’s been on sale numerous times this year for as low as $450, meaning that if you were thinking about getting the iPad mini Retina model, spending just $50 more will get you the same thing, but with a larger 9.7-inch display. Of course, that comes down to whether or not the extra two inches is worth $50, but the price gap between different iPad models is razor thin.

  

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