Black or white, which iPad mini or iPad 4 should you get?

Apple has updated the iPad and launched the new iPad mini, so we're updating our buyers guides to help you choose just exactly the right devices for you. Now, ever since the iPad 2 launched with a choice of black or white faceplates, one of the biggest decisions we've all had to make is which color to get. This year, that stays the same for the iPad, but for the iPad mini, which has an iPod touch 5-style colored backplate as well, it's an even bigger -- make that smaller -- choice.

Is the white iPad 4 or iPad mini faceplate more distracting?

There's a reason almost all TV sets are black. When you're watching video or playing a game, you want the TV set to blend away into the background so you can enjoy what you're doing without the distractions of a big, bright rim around it.

The same goes for iPad and iPad mini. Some people find having a white faceplate very distracting when they're watching videos or gaming, and others just don't like the contrast between the white border and the black screen when the device is off. (It's known as "panda" if you want to get all inside baseball about it.)

Others aren't bothered by a white border at all and really like the two-tone look of the iPhone when its off. This year, however, you also have something else to consider. Until apps update for widescreen, they'll be letter-boxed or pillar-boxed on the iPhone 5, which means black bars. Those will almost disappear on a black iPhone 5. On a white iPhone 5, not so much...

I've had both a Black & Slate and a White & Silver iPhone 4 and have never been distracted nor irked by either one. If White & Silver catches your eye a little too much, however, you might want to stick with Black & Slate.

Will the white iPad 4 or iPad mini discolor?

Rumor has it Apple delayed the launch of the white iPhone 4 in order to improve the UV protection and prevent discoloration. That's just a rumor, however, and white iPads have shipped day and date with black iPads since they were introduced in March 2011. That also means white iPads have been on the market for over a year and a half now, and there haven't been any widespread accounts of discoloration. My own white iPad 2, bought in March 2011, still looks as crisp and clean as the day I unboxed it.

In 5 years time some more obvious aging issues may present themselves, but 5 years is an eternity in consumer electronics. If it concerns you, stick with black.

On the other hand, black shows fingerprints, dust, lint, and smudges more dramatically, so if those annoy you, white is a better choice.

Does the white iPad 4 or iPad mini look better?

Some people just love the look of a white device, whether it's an iPad, an iPhone, a BlackBerry, an Android phone, or whatever. They sometimes get shipped later or come in more limited quantities so there's an air of exclusivity about them.

That's not the case with the iPad 4 or iPad mini.

White tends to stand out more and can be more obvious with brightly colored cases. Is that something that appeals to you? Or do you want the content and the accessories to be the star? If you like the idea of a blank canvas, stick to black. If you want your iPad to pop all on its own, get white.

What about the anodized aluminum on the iPad mini?

Like the watch or race car trend, the Black & Slate of the iPad mini is blacked out and the White & Silver appears brighter and flashier. Think Darth Vader vs. Storm Trooper. Both mix texture and sheen to great effect. Both look hot. Black might show scratches and scuffs more, but that could also be seen as aged to perfection.

Unless and until a significant flaw shows up in one or the other, you're fine with either.

So which color iPad 4 or iPad mini should you get?

At the end of the day, the only real answer is get the color you like better. Everything else is manufactured anxiety at this point. Just close your eyes, picture your iPad in your hand and carefully look at what color you're picturing.

Then buy that.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I thought I would never like a white device until I tried the iPhone 5 in white. Now, that's the color I prefer. I'm just glad I have the option of black or white.
  • White mini, black maxi.
  • All this article shows is that there are increasingly less things to talk about when it comes to these iconic and almost featureless devices. However, you missed talking about the single most important and popular argument in regards this choice and the reason why White may actually be better in some cases. You talked about how if you watch videos you really want the black, but the reverse is also true, if your primary viewing is of documents, then you want white. The black is just as "jarring" to the eye surrounding a white webpage as the white border around a black video screen is.
  • I'm a fan of the white. I had black several times before and I'm ready for a change.
  • fav color...n my lucky color too.....
  • Black iPad mini, looks very nice alongside my Darth Vader costume...
  • Rene, that's a lot of words to just say "pick the one you like better". IMO, iMore should stay away from so-called "guides" that are nothing but subjective personal preference. These things should stay focused on helping people make decisions based on spec differences: Physical size, capacity, RAM, display tech, battery life, connectivity, and other feature differences (iPad2 does not support Siri, the Mini does, GPS is only available in a cellular equipped device, etc).
  • Agree. Pointless posting. Common sense a two-bit-idiot would possess. I find myself getting more iOS info from other sites as of late. Hope this site returns to better articles, and more of them, soon, or it'll be a rarity for me to visit here any more. I already visit less than I used to.
  • white
  • I prefer to think of the black as Darth Vader and the white as Padme Amidala. :) I think you know what I'm sayin'....
  • Like the others commented above. The black is great for watching movies and the white it's great for surfing the web. I prefer the white as I primarily use it for surfing the web. However the white kinda looks weird when turned off.
  • Black. Wish there were a black leather Smart Cover to match, but we'll get the gray plastic one and deal with it.
  • White looks really nice but I have to do black.
  • New jailbreak released by the dev-team blog! All current devices with iOS 6 untethered!
  • I think you forgot to remove this bit from the identical post about iPhone5 :) "Until apps update for widescreen, they'll be letter-boxed or pillar-boxed on the iPhone 5, which means black bars. Those will almost disappear on a black iPhone 5. On a white iPhone 5, not so much..."
  • I'm torn between the two colors..... The black looks sleek but the white just screams Apple. I know I shouldn't think like this but there's something about seeing a device that just screams Apple ;) I'm getting the white iPad mini to match my white iPhone 5. By the way, I like these kinds of post by iMore. It's more geared toward the Apple fans. General Tech Sites wouldn't post these kinds of post so I look toward iMore to get opinions from others. Good post Rene!
  • I also had black iphone and ipad, this year bought white iphone 5 and really love it! like a piece of jewellery, probably more suited to women! I am getting the white iPad 4 to match!! bye bye black!
  • Disagree about black being less distracting. Black heavily encloses a screen making it feel smaller. White or silver bezels disappear better making screens feel more expansive. A sort of infinity effect.
  • I feel the same way. //Yes, I know this post was around a year ago.
  • I have the black&slate iPhone 5, and I won't get another black anodized thing from Apple. Too much scratching. Not a big fan of the white either. I'll wait to hold one in an Apple store before I make the call.
  • One other thing to consider in the white vs black debate... Try swapping white and black mats on a picture; you should notice the white brightening the picture.