display resolution: the iPad mini with Retina display. The first gen iPad mini was my favorite iPad in years because of the thin and light design and easier portability, but I wanted the same CPU as its big brother (at the time the iPad with Retina display) and that same super high res display. Apple answered with the new Retina mini, whose price sits between the first gen iPad mini that continues on as Apple's "budget" offering, and the new iPad Air.
At $399, this isn't a wildly affordable alternative to the iPad Air, rather it's for those who want a top spec Apple tablet but in a more portable size than the 9.7" Air. Since Apple slimmed down the Air and dropped weight significantly to just a pound, the divide between mini and Air isn't huge, but the mini with Retina display is still easier to fit in a bag or large pocket. Given the relatively small $100 price gap (20%), I suggest you choose between the mini with Retina display and iPad Air based on your size preference rather than price tag.
The iPad mini with Retina display has the same resolution as the iPad Air: 2048 x 1536, and like the Air it has a high quality IPS panel with wide color gamut, high contrast and good brightness. It runs on the same Apple A7 CPU with M7 motion co-processor as the iPad Air and iPhone 5s. The CPU is clocked at 1.3GHz like the iPhone 5s rather than 1.4GHz like the iPad Air. In practice, it performs close to the iPad Air in benchmarks and can handle demanding games like Asphalt 8 and editing HD video in iMovie. Speaking of iMovie, Apple includes their iLfe and iWork suites as free downloads from the App Store. That nets you Apple's MS Office compatible Pages, Numbers and Keynote as well as iMovie, iPhoto and Garage Band for iOS. Those help turn the iPad into a content creation tool, rather than a passive content consumption tool.
As with previous iPads, the Retina mini is available as a WiFi only tablet or with WiFi + 4G LTE on all major US carriers. The 16 gig WiFi model starts at $399, and 4G LTE adds $130. The tablet is available with 32 and 64 gigs of storage, and each increment raises the price a $100, which is darned steep. We'd love to see Apple charge $50 for each storage jump as other manufacturers have been doing.
Here's our iPad mini with Retina display video review. Our full written review will follow soon.