The relationship between the iPad and the iPhone, performance-wise, has been hard to predict. I often point out that Apple is a company of annual patterns, often predictable. There’s not much of a pattern with regard to how the iPad and iPhone relate to one another.
Two years ago, when the original iPad Mini debuted, it was roughly a year behind its 9.7-inch sibling, the iPad 4. The original Mini had a non-retina display and A5 system-on-a-chip (SoC). In broad strokes, Apple took an iPad 2 and shrunk it to fit in a much smaller form factor. The iPad 4 had a retina display and an A6 SoC — and double the RAM (1 GB vs. 512 MB), a better camera, etc.
Last year, the new models were roughly all on par CPU/GPU-wise, with the A7 SoC running at about the same speed on all three devices: iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, and iPhone 5S. The Air had one small advantage over the other two devices: it was clocked at 1400 MHz instead of 1300 MHz, which gave it about a 5 percent advantage in CPU performance. The iPhone 5S had unique niceties, though, maintaining its clear position as the king of the iOS hill: a far superior camera and Touch ID, to name just two. The Air had better color gamut than the Mini, but I think it was very fair to say (which I did) that they were more or less the same iPad in two different sizes. The main thing you got when you paid the extra $100 for last year’s Air (versus the comparably-equipped Mini) was the size of the display.
This year, all previous patterns are busted.
I especially like what he says in the storage section at the end:
Apple should not be selling 16 GB iPads. The starting tier for typical consumers should be 32 GB. There’s just not enough usable space on a 16 GB iOS device to do the things Apple has worked so hard to make easy to do. …
I also understand the product marketing angle. That there are a lot of people who will look at the 16 GB models, see that they can get four times the storage for just $100 more, and buy the 64 GB model instead — when they would’ve bought the base model if it were 32 GB. I get it. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s good short-term business sense to go with a 16/64/128 lineup instead of 32/64/128. But Apple is not a short-term business. They’re a long-term business, built on a relationship of trust with repeat customers. 16 GB iPads work against the foundation of Apple’s brand, which is that they only make good products.
Apple has long used three-tier pricing structures within individual product categories. They often used to label them “Good”, “Better”, and “Best”. Now, with these 16 GB entry-level devices, it’s more like “Are you sure?”, “Better”, and “Best”.