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How the iPhone 6 Plus could cannibalize sales of the iPad mini

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It occurred to me the other day that the new, larger iPhone 6 Plus could very well end up eating into sales of the iPad mini with Retina display. Now, I'm not a Wall Street analyst -- just a tech blogger -- but after looking at the relative size, cost and capabilities of the two devices, I'm even more convinced that Apple big phone could bite into sales of its little tablet.

First, let's look at the price tag on the two devices. A 64GB iPhone 6 Plus on the AT&T network costs US$399 with a 2-year contract. If you happen to be like me and have a contract that just happens to still be in effect, that price jumps up to $649. A 64GB iPad mini with Retina display with a month-to-month data contract runs $729. Here the iPhone 6 Plus has a price advantage of anywhere from $80 to $330 over the iPad mini.

Next, let's look at the displays on the the iPhone 6 Plus and the Retina iPad mini. The iPhone has a 5.5" diagonal display with a total area of 12.86 square inches, featuring 1920 x 1080 pixels (2,073,600 total) at 401 pixels per inch (PPI). The Retina iPad is tricked out with a 7.9" diagonal display with a total area of 29.58 square inches, featuring 2048 x 1536 pixels (3,145,728 total) at 326 PPI.

In terms of screen area, the iPad mini has the advantage both in total pixels (151 percent more than the iPhone 6 Plus) and raw area (230 percent more than the iPhone 6 Plus). But consider this: many movies and TV shows are now filmed in a 16:9 aspect ratio, exactly what the iPhone 6 Plus provides. The iPad mini with Retina display? It's stuck in the age-old 4:3 aspect ratio. For watching HD content, the iPhone 6 Plus might just have the edge as that content will fill the screen instead of leaving a band of black at the top and bottom as it would on the iPad mini.

How about physical attributes? The upstart iPhone 6 Plus weighs 6.07 ounces and fits comfortably in a pants pocket -- I know, I built a mockup and it slips right into my jeans pockets! Try as I might, I can't fit the iPad mini with Retina display into any pocket except the one designed for the full-size iPad that's in my SCOTTeVEST jacket. That iPad mini also weighs almost exactly twice as much as the iPhone 6 Plus at 12 ounces. For portability, the advantage here goes to the iPhone 6 Plus.

In terms of processor capability, the iPhone 6 Plus also has the current (2013) iPad mini with Retina display beat hands down. The A8 CPU in the iPhone 6 Plus is estimated to run at 1.4 GHz and Apple says it has 25 percent better CPU performance and 50 percent better graphics performance while drawing only 50 percent of the power of the A7. Both devices have a motion coprocessor -- not much is known about the M8 in the iPhone 6 Plus, but it apparently provides a barometer for altitude sensing while the M7 doesn't have that feature.

How about the rear-facing (iSIght) camera on the two devices? The big iPhone comes with an 8 MP camera with optical image stabilization and an f/2.2 lens. The iPad mini? A 5 MP camera with no OIS and a slightly slower F/2.4 lens.

Battery life? iPhone 6 Plus has the edge here, too. Up to 14 hours of video playback, 24 hours of talk time on 3G, and up to 12 hours of internet surfing on LTE. With the Retina iPad mini you're looking at 10 hours of video playback and 9 hours of internet surfing on LTE ... and you can't make phone calls on it. Phone calls aren't the only thing you won't be able to do with the Retina iPad mini -- it's also missing Touch ID and the ability to do Apple Pay payments.

The iPad mini may continue to be popular in schools, where the price tag is less than that of the larger tablet and there's no need for cellular data capabilities. But I honestly wonder if the iPad mini has a future.

A lot will become more clear in the next few months if Apple has an expected iPad event. Perhaps the iPad mini will gain resolution and a different form factor while coming down in cost. Or maybe a Wi-Fi only version of the iPhone 6 Plus -- kind of an iPod touch Plus -- will replace the diminutive tablet.

What do you think? Does the iPad mini really have a place in the future of Apple? Let us know in the comments section below.

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