The Retina iPad mini suddenly went on sale this morning, and the device’s benchmarks have been posted online. Apple chose to put the same 64-bit A7 processor in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and new iPad mini. The result is a hardly noticeable change in performance across the three devices.
In the Retina iPad mini, the A7’s speed is clocked at 1.29 GHz, and the iPhone 5s is clocked at 1.30 GHz. So in terms of raw performance, there is barely any difference at all between the latest iPhone and iPad mini. That’s staggering when you consider that the the first iPad mini scored a 261/493 on the single/multi-core Geekbench test and the second-gen scored 1390/2512. The boost in performance is incredible. The iPhone and iPad mini are pretty different in terms of physical size, yet they manage to perform almost exactly the same.
The iPad Air is clocked at 1.4 Ghz, which is a marginal increase over the Retina mini and 5s. The slightly better performance likely has something to do with the Air’s larger battery and chassis. Since the processors in both tablets are the same, the Retina mini could probably be clocked at the same level as the Air, but Apple chose to underclock it. The iPad mini’s smaller dimensions, battery, and greater need for thermal cooling probably had something to do with that decision.
The tiny changes in processor clocking will not be observable to the vast majority of users, so the new iPads and iPhone are on basically the same playing field in terms of performance. When you look at the iPad lineup, not only do the iPad mini and larger iPad look alike on the outside, but they perform almost identically on the inside.