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How does the new iPad mini stack up against existing iPads?

It may be small, but Apple packed a lot of features into this year's iPad mini

With the exciting new refresh of the iPad mini, we decided to put together a quick explainer regarding who we think each iPad is for while comparing the tablets’ specs.

Apple’s consumer iPad range consists of three models: the iPad (10.2-inch), the iPad mini (8.2-inch) and the iPad Air (10.9-inch). The company also sells the iPad Pro in either 11-inch or 12.9-inch sizes, but those devices are a little more expensive and more powerful than the other three since they feature the M1 chipset.

Specs and costs

Everyone wants to know about the specs, and the standouts for the new mini are that it has a USB-C port instead of Apple’s legacy Lightning connector, 4GB of RAM and the new A15 Bionic chipset.

It’s also worth noting that the new mini features a more modern design that looks like the 2020 iPad Air or a tiny iPad Pro.

iPad mini (2021)

iPad Mini (2019)

iPad Air (2020)

Display

8.3-inch LCD, 2,266 x 1,488 resolution, 326ppi

7.9-inch LCD, 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, 326ppi

10.9-inch IPS Liquid Retina display, 2360 x 1640 pixel resolution

Processor

A15 Bionic

A12 Bionic

Apple A14 Bionic

RAM

4GB

3GB

4GB

Storage

64GB, 256GB

64GB, 256GB

64GB, 256GB

Dimensions (in.)

195.4 x 134.4 x 6.3mm

203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm

247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm

Weight

297g

300.5g

458g

Rear Facing Camera

12-megapixel f/1.8, True Tone Flash

8-megapixel, f/2.4

1.2-megapixel (f/1.8 aperture)

Front Facing Camera

12-megapixel f/2.4, 122-degree wide angle

7-megapixel, f/2.2

7-megapixel (f/2.2 aperture)

OS

iPadOS 15

iOS

iPadOS 14

Battery

5,124mAh

Network Connectivity

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

GSM/HSPA/LTE

Wi-Fi up to 802.11.ac, LTE (23 bands), Bluetooth 5.0, GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE

Sensors

Touch ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer, stereo speakers

Touch ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

Touch ID (on top), Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

SIM Type

Nano SIM, eSIM

Nano SIM, eSIM

Nano SIM, eSIM

Launch Date

September 24, 2021

March 18, 2019

September 15, 2020

Misc

USB-C, Colours: Space Gray, Pink, Purple, Starlight

Colours: Space Gray, Silver, Gold

Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Rose Gold, Green, Sky Blue

Display

iPad mini (2021)

8.3-inch LCD, 2,266 x 1,488 resolution, 326ppi

iPad Mini (2019)

7.9-inch LCD, 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, 326ppi

iPad Air (2020)

10.9-inch IPS Liquid Retina display, 2360 x 1640 pixel resolution

Processor

iPad mini (2021)

A15 Bionic

iPad Mini (2019)

A12 Bionic

iPad Air (2020)

Apple A14 Bionic

RAM

iPad mini (2021)

4GB

iPad Mini (2019)

3GB

iPad Air (2020)

4GB

Storage

iPad mini (2021)

64GB, 256GB

iPad Mini (2019)

64GB, 256GB

iPad Air (2020)

64GB, 256GB

Dimensions (in.)

iPad mini (2021)

195.4 x 134.4 x 6.3mm

iPad Mini (2019)

203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm

iPad Air (2020)

247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm

Weight

iPad mini (2021)

297g

iPad Mini (2019)

300.5g

iPad Air (2020)

458g

Rear Facing Camera

iPad mini (2021)

12-megapixel f/1.8, True Tone Flash

iPad Mini (2019)

8-megapixel, f/2.4

iPad Air (2020)

1.2-megapixel (f/1.8 aperture)

Front Facing Camera

iPad mini (2021)

12-megapixel f/2.4, 122-degree wide angle

iPad Mini (2019)

7-megapixel, f/2.2

iPad Air (2020)

7-megapixel (f/2.2 aperture)

OS

iPad mini (2021)

iPadOS 15

iPad Mini (2019)

iOS

iPad Air (2020)

iPadOS 14

Battery

iPad mini (2021)

iPad Mini (2019)

5,124mAh

iPad Air (2020)

Network Connectivity

iPad mini (2021)

GSM/HSPA/LTE/5G

iPad Mini (2019)

GSM/HSPA/LTE

iPad Air (2020)

Wi-Fi up to 802.11.ac, LTE (23 bands), Bluetooth 5.0, GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE

Sensors

iPad mini (2021)

Touch ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer, stereo speakers

iPad Mini (2019)

Touch ID, Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

iPad Air (2020)

Touch ID (on top), Three axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Barometer

SIM Type

iPad mini (2021)

Nano SIM, eSIM

iPad Mini (2019)

Nano SIM, eSIM

iPad Air (2020)

Nano SIM, eSIM

Launch Date

iPad mini (2021)

September 24, 2021

iPad Mini (2019)

March 18, 2019

iPad Air (2020)

September 15, 2020

Misc

iPad mini (2021)

USB-C, Colours: Space Gray, Pink, Purple, Starlight

iPad Mini (2019)

Colours: Space Gray, Silver, Gold

iPad Air (2020)

Colours: Silver, Space Grey, Rose Gold, Green, Sky Blue

For comparison, the old mini was priced at $529, while the new one will start at $649 when it begins shipping on September 24th. The base model iPad is $429, and the iPad Air costs $779. While I’m a little disappointed that the mini received a price hike, hopefully, the addition of a USB-C port and new design make it worth the added cost.

Other changes

Beyond the new design and port type, the new mini features a few other changes compared to some of Apple’s other iPads.

For instance, the new model includes a 500 nit display, making it a bit brighter than the old model and easier to use outside. That said, it’s nowhere near as bright as the iPhone 13 series, which can reach 1,200 nits. Apple did say that the new mini has a better anti-reflective coating, so it should be easier to use outside than the older model. The iPad Air and the base model iPad also have 500 nits of peak brightness, but only the Air also has an anti-reflective coating.

As I said before, the new mini is really just a shrunken-down iPad Air in some respects. It even has the same Touch ID sensor built into the power button located at the top right corner of the device.

The mini also supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, which can magnetize to the side of the tablet to change and pair with the device.

The battery life of the new mini is rated for around 10.5 hours on Apple’s website, which is about half an hour longer than the old iPad mini and Apple’s other current tablets. At least according to Apple’s website. This could change once reviewers get to spend some time with the device later this month.

Which iPad is for you?

Apple is bringing the rapidly ageing base-model iPad back for another year with the same exact design. This puts it in a tough spot since it really is a good tablet for its low $429 price tag. However, it still looks like a device from 5+ years ago.

I wish Apple would have kept the mini at $529 to keep it more competitive with the regular iPad, but unfortunately, the price bump to $649 will make it a tough sell for some people. With all that in mind, if I was buying a new iPad this year, I’d likely want the mini.

The iPad Air has always been a tough sell with the iPad Pro hovering above it, and now that the mini is even more powerful, it seems like there are even fewer reasons to pick up an Air. However, if you use an iPad as your main computer, but you only do web browsing, media consumption and word processing, the Air is a really great tablet for that, albeit it’s a lot more expensive than the base-level iPad.

And of course, if you want to do high-end photo or video work on an iPad, go with the iPad Pro.

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