As usual, people are complaining about the price of an Apple product. This time, it’s the iPad mini with Retina display. The reason is two-fold: Apple raised the base price of this new iPad by $70, and both Amazon and Google offer their hi-res 7-inch devices for a meager $229, a whopping $170 less than this new Retina mini. So this iPad is obviously a ripoff, right? Or at the very least, isn’t it uncompetitive?
To figure that out, we need to establish some sort of comparison, or like they say in real estate, a comp. That seems easy enough — both the aforementioned $229 devices, the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire 7” HDX (HDX 7), are the usual suspects cited as the mini’s competition. Apple even went so far as to leak the impending existence of the mini months before its unveiling the moment Google released the first Nexus 7. Yet putting the iPad mini next to this crop of 7-inch tablets, you’ll notice that it’s rather significantly bigger in size and the screen has a slightly squarer shape — it’s much wider in portrait than those other 7-inch tablets.
The iPad has an aspect ratio that is 4:3, like really old televisions and computer monitors. Both the Nexus 7 and the HDX 7 have 16:10 screens, like most widescreen computer monitors used to be. The difference seems subtle — but for the same diagonal measure, the 4:3 screen has almost 7% more area. Add to that the 7.85-inch display (Apple rounds it to 7.9) which is nearly 26% larger and the iPad mini has a full 34% more area to tap and pinch and swipe. That means four Nexus 7 or HDX 7 tablets will have less combined screen area than just three iPad minis. Four to three. That’s not a small difference.