While the new Retina iPad mini certainly looks a lot like last year's original, Apple has switched out the old, scratch and chip-prone slate gray color for an all new, all-the-more resilient, space gray finish. It also matches the space gray options for the iPhone 5s and iPad Air, if that sort of uniformity matters to you. The faceplates, white vs. black are obviously the most striking differences, and those haven't changed, but if you're still trying to make up your mind, wondering how different silver is from space, or space from slate on the new iPad mini with Retina display, here's gallery.
The fronts, like I mentioned, remain indistinguishable from last year. White is bright and shows dark grime more easily, black is shiny and shows light lint and fingerprints more easily. Nothing new about either of those things.
The backs betray the biggest difference about the new space gray finish - it's much lighter than last year's slate gray, and certainly nowhere close to black. Since it's very hard to anodize black, and chips and scratches are much more visible when they occur, the loss in darkness is made up for by a gain in durability.
From the side, above, or bottom, below, depending on the light the difference between silver and space can be more or less drastic.
A lot, obviously, depends on personal preference. If you need more help deciding, check out our Retina iPad mini buyers guide. Let me know which one you like better, and if you take the plunge, which one you get!
Update: For those curious, here's how the space gray Retina iPad mini compares to the slate gray original iPad mini. (No, I didn't swap in a silver one, the difference is enough to make for a high contrast when photographed.)
All images shot with a Canon 5D Mark III, 50mm f/1.4 lens