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.
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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.