iPad Air vs iPad 4: The Similarities, Differences, And What You Need To Know Before Buying Apple's Ubiquitous Tablet

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Aug 04, 2014 02:57 PM EDT

Tablets are increasingly pervasive in the average American household, and it's a big decision for many to pick up the device that will suit their specific needs.

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A large portion of consumers turn to Apple to provide the capabilities they're looking for, and it's a more difficult decision than ever before with a variety of generations and model types on the market.

Two of the most appealing right now are the iPad Air and iPad 4, which come with a few key differences despite general similarities. The iPad 4 is the latest device in the main line, and has been followed by the iPad Air and iPad Mini since its release.

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Having been released after the iPad 4 with the aim of slimming down and offering a premium experience, the Air is generally a faster, slicker device that comes at an increased price tag. The 16GB Wi-Fi models costs $499 compared to the $399 iPad 4, and also comes in a 32, 64, and 128GB models for an added $100 at each interval. Both have Wi-Fi and Cellular service-enabled models, again at a $100 price difference ($629 and $529) with higher-storage options again available for the Air.

The retina displays on the two devices are identical, with 9.7-inch, 2048x1536 resolution screens at 264 pixels per inch. The cameras and video recording capabilities are the same, as are the Wi-Fi and Cellular offerings (both hardware and carriers).

The main differences come in the sizes and guts of the devices, starting with the weight. The iPad Air is just one pound, while the iPad 4 is nearly a pound and a half (weighing in at a-still-not-too-heavy 1.44lbs). The iPad 4 is very slightly taller, but also wider (7.31 inches compared to 6.6in) and thicker (0.37 inch compared to 0.29) than the Air.

The faster processer in the Air gives it an edge as well, hence the increased price tag alongside the thinner form: its A7 64-bit chip is a moderate improvement over the iPad 4's dual core A6X chip. Performance and loading should be a bit faster on the Air, but the software (iOS 7) and user experience will be largely the same--the differences are in the hardware and design.

Those are the main similarities and differences you'd have to choose between when picking a device to justify the increased $100 price tag for the Air, but it's ultimately up to personal preference and need. Other companies have solutions as well, and Apple also offers the iPad Mini, so continue to research options before making a purchase.

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