iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose…


There are more and more options available to educators who want to use tablet technology in the classroom. From class sets to 1:1 programmes, heavyweight companies are trying to grab their piece of the pie.

Apple have emerged as market leaders with an intuitive operating system supported by a burgeoning app store. Many people are seduced by their clever marketing and advertising campaigns. However, beyond the hype, the iPad is currently the best tablet for education (cost aside!). Or is it?

The release of the iPad Mini has further muddied the waters when it comes to choosing appropriate technology to enhance learning. If your institution is going to buy into new technology which tablet should you choose? Here are the positives for the iPad Mini and the 4th Gen iPad and, I promise, a conclusion at the end!

iPad Mini

  1. Portability – The iPad Mini is less than half the weight of its bigger brother and ‘just about’ fits in the palm of one hand (although it isn’t comfortable for long periods of time). It makes little difference when slipped into a bag and is clearly an excellent travel device for consumption.
  2. Usability – The rise of ‘two-thumb’ typing is not lost on the iPad Mini when replying to an email or composing that blog post. When held in two hands the touchscreen keyboard lends itself to the ‘two-thumb’ technique and the screen is large enough to cope with text scroll. It should be noted that a number of users have taken to increasing the default font size of the iPad Mini, available in the accessibility option in general settings. The relatively light weight of the iPad Mini also suits presentation delivery and will be very useful for those educators who are at the front of the class for long periods of time.
  3. Desirability – Not something I would associate with a choice of device but judging by commentary on social media sites, the iPad Mini is a very desirable product. It will be interesting to see, after the Christmas boom, if the iPad Mini is quite so sought after. I’m not sure educators need to be cool!?!?
  4. Functionality – iOS6 works well with the iPad Mini and means that app developers can optimise their products for its screen. If you add the battery life and camera options then you have great functionality with a smaller device. The front-facing HD camera for Facetime video chat is a nice touch.
  5. Cost – This might be the most important factor in education. At around £270 the ipad Mini is over £100 less than its big brother and this is very significant when talking about class sets or 1:1 programmes. A saving of £4000 when purchasing 30 tablets is going to make any administration think twice and the introduction of the iPad Mini might just be for this purpose. A cheaper alternative to the iPad?

iPad (4th Gen)

  1. Retina Display – A bigger factor than you might at first think. With the iPad Mini essentially delivering the same experience as the iPad2, the lack of a Retina display is key. I appreciate we are talking ideal world here, but you do notice slightly blurry text and poor imagery on non-retina display. You can also add the enhanced display works much better outside the classroom in broad daylight.
  2. Processing Chip – It seems strange that a teacher would refer to A5 or A6 processing chips. However, you only have to compare devices with the slower and faster chips to see the difference. If you are investing money in new devices processing speed is a factor. For a demonstration compare an iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5 when web browsing.
  3. Creativity – The iPad’s major selling point in the classroom. I have discussed, at length, that the way to truly enhance learning with new technology is to engage the students with creation not consumption. Challenging individuals to collaborate and create allows for the guided discovery that embeds learning.
  4. Screen size/App Function – Whilst many applications are based on the consumption of material, the majority of educational apps are based on student interaction. The larger screen size encourages that interaction and suits the pooling of resources into one whiteboard display or mind map. The major advantage over the iPad Mini can be seen when observing students sharing the device and show each other their work.
  5. Resource Creation – I reach for the iPad when I want to create something for a class or student. When bringing together resources or annotating student work the iPad is the most suitable device. Again it comes down to screen size but I rarely find myself ‘pinch-zooming’ on the iPad to check my work. The screen is optimised for the user to create and it doesn’t disappoint.


  • If you already own an iPad 2, 3 or 4 I wouldn’t buy the iPad Mini until it is released with a Retina display
  • If you don’t own an iPad then the iPad Mini is very suitable for a teacher to trial its potential use in the classroom
  • If you are looking to buy a class set of tablet devices to enhance learning then the iPad is the most appropriate choice. If cost is a factor then the iPad Mini is a suitable alternative
  • If you are a teacher with a laptop then the iPad Mini may well suit your needs as it works very well as a presentation device – buy the iPad for your students!

Personally, I am going to stick with my iPad and wait for the iPad Mini to be released with a faster processing chip and Retina display. But that’s because I’m picky . .

About Daniel Edwards
Director of Innovation & Learning at the Stephen Perse Foundation schools, Cambridge, UK (stephenperse.com). Interested in global connectivity for all and risk taking in education. Keen to discuss all aspects of learning and digital strategy. Also @syded06 on twitter.

29 Responses to iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose…

  1. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose… | English for International Students | Scoop.it

  2. Fiona says:

    Thanks Daniel for a very useful comparison. I’m waiting for my new iPad Mini to arrive. I chose it for its affordability. I am looking forward to trying it out myself and exploring m-learning in a more practical way.

  3. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose… | m-learning, mLearning, mobile learning, Bring Your Own Device | Scoop.it

  4. Frustrated Educator says:

    iPad this, iPad that, Apple this, Apple that.

    Sick, sick, sick, SICK of all you people just kissing Steve Jobs’ behind!

    • It’s funny because I hadn’t used Apple products until 18 months ago and tested all the others. I think it’s ok to use the best product and then adapt if a better one comes along. You make an articulate point though.

      • Frustrated Educator says:

        When I look at all the sneaky ways in which they take away control and enforce lock-in, sorry, I thoroughly disagree. The iPad is not a better product, it’s a prettier cage. Android tablets have long caught up more than enough to not make that sacrifice even remotely worthwhile.

        It’s sad to see Educators, who should be thinking more about these topics, pushing kids towards an ecosystem that throws freedom away in exchange for convenience and “being cool”. Education should be about the higher road, not the easy road.

        Nice message we give our students.

        And the higher road has already not been that hard for quite some time.

      • I have no allegiance to Apple so chose the device based on learning and functionality. I’m not alone in this opinion so there must be something to it. Thank you for airing your opinion.

      • Frustrated Educator says:

        Thank you for a civilized response. Much appreciated.

    • Richard says:

      Calm down and breathe deeply

      • Frustrated Educator says:

        Sorry, I can’t. You may have noticed that I’m posting anonymously, right?
        Not exactly something I’m happy to be doing, but I have already been in trouble at my school just by suggesting we look at alternatives before blindly throwing money in the direction of Cupertino.

        Just having the opinion that something else might be a better option was enough to get me in trouble, so… yeah. Very hard to take it easy and calm down when my own career may be affected just by wanting my school to consider alternatives.

        Apparently, it’s ok to say that Apple and the iPad is the best thing since sliced bread and that the alternatives “don’t work”.
        But it’s not ok to say that some other things out there might be comparable or even better.

        And if you are shocked to hear this, well, so was I when it happened to me. I just couldn’t believe it.

    • Hace dos años introdujimos en nuestras aulas netbooks Toshiba, el 50% subvencionado por el gobierno. Todo el mundo hablaba de los beneficios de la introducción de las TIC en el aula … Este año escolar, sin ayudas, hemos decidido cambiar al iPad, y tenemos que justificar y defender los ataques más absurdos …
      Una escuela que decide entrar en un programa de 1:1, habrá analizado la conveniencia o no largamente. Lo importante no es si se trata de Apple, Android o lo que sea! “it’s the methodology, stupid!” (sin ánimos de ofender a nadie😉 )

  5. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose… | iPad in Education! | Scoop.it

  6. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose…

  7. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose… | iPad classroom | Scoop.it

  8. RWillan says:

    I also generally believe that alternaltives to iPads are just as good and I am frustrated that my school wants to get 15 of them for our department, when we could have 30 of something just as good. But I will back Matt up as he is aware of the other options.

    Everyone needs to go with what they prefer but they should be aware there are other tablets out there. I dont like incompatibility and how you seem to need apple products to sync together (corrrect me if im wrong). As for the number of apps I see apple as a form of quality control as any decent apps generally make it into other markets. Id prefer quality, not quantity.

    However, should my department buy me an iPad and 15 to share with students…am I going to complain…Hell no #GiftHorseDontLookAtItsMouth

  9. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose… | BYOD iPads | Scoop.it

  10. Sandy MacDonald says:

    Until other platforms can match the creative possibilities offered by apps such as GarageBand and iMovie, then the iPad will get not only my vote but that of any educator who recognises the educational impact that giving pupils’ intuitive audio-visual tools will have in their learning.

  11. Pingback: OTR Links 12/11/2012 « doug – off the record

  12. Thanks Daniel for interesting posting. I am planning to get Ipad because its configuration and broad display.

  13. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose… | Primary School Ipads and Apps | Scoop.it

  14. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I'm a Teacher and I would choose… | MBS iPads | Scoop.it

  15. Steve says:

    A nice read, Syded. I’ve been considering the same choice myself. Still too soon to decide I think. Perhaps pupils trialling the device will be able to tell me what they think.

  16. Pingback: iPad v iPad Mini – I’m a Teacher and I would choose… | Dragon E-learning

  17. Pingback: iPad Mini – My First Impressions « An Múinteoir Machnamhach

  18. Pingback: iPad Mini – My First Impressions « An Múinteoir Machnamhach

  19. plahnb says:

    We are looking at minis k-2 3rd iPads 4-5 chrome books. Our state testing is too g online and the mini screen size they say is too small. Of course they have also said one thi. And then have changed their stance on it. Chrome books you can get 2 for 1 iPad.

  20. Dale says:

    iPad 2 is only $379 when bought in ten packs, in the US anyway. Best value for the $. My 2 cents.

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