With the announcement and imminent release of the new iPad Mini and its redesigned design, it might be too easy to endure the new model and roll back its predecessor entirely. While the new model has a lot to offer – namely a larger screen, a faster processor, a sleek design similar to that of the iPad Air 2020, and a USB-C port – it also has a quality that isn’t. not so desirable: a higher introductory price.

The iPad Mini line has been notoriously immune to discounts over the years, possibly due to its specialized position in the market and lack of competition. The outgoing iPad Mini only recently started receiving big discounts, dropping to $ 300 shortly before the new model was announced, but it started at $ 399 right off the bat. The new iPad Mini starts at $ 499 before adding anything else like additional storage or 5G connectivity.

So let’s take a look at what makes the new iPad Mini different, and if it deserves the extra $ 200 price tag over its two-year-old predecessor.

The new iPad Mini for 2021 offers more screen and a modern design in a reduced size.
Image: Apple

What has been improved on the iPad Mini 2021?

  • The new iPad Mini has a larger screen in a slightly smaller physical footprint
  • Apple’s A15 Bionic processor replaces aging 2018 A12 Bionic
  • The front camera has higher resolution and supports Center Stage to zoom in and keep you centered during video calls
  • The rear camera has a higher resolution and can now record 4K videos
  • USB-C everything! (except iPhones, unfortunately)
  • No more Apple Pencil sticking out of the port to charge: The second-generation Apple Pencil snaps neatly to the side for magnetically charging
  • Wi-Fi 6 compatibility
  • 5G connection on cellular models for potentially faster speeds than LTE, although lacking 5G mmWave radio bands

The highlight of the new iPad Mini is its screen, now an 8.3-inch screen. It might not seem like a huge difference from the 2019 model’s 7.9-inch screen, but the new tablet is actually a bit shorter while squeezing into a larger screen. More screen space and smaller bezels in almost the same footprint are generally a good thing that makes everyone happy.

When it comes to processing power, the new iPad Mini features the all-new A15 Bionic chip that you’ll find in the iPhone 13 lineup, with five GPU cores like the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. (It’s one more than the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini.) Apple says the new chip gives the Mini the maximum performance boost, with 40 percent CPU gains and 80 percent GPU gains. compared to the old A12 Bionic in the outgoing model. There is talk that it is not as fast as the A15 processor of the iPhone 13, but that remains to be confirmed and the improvements over the previous iPad Mini are probably noticeable.

An ultra-wide 12 MP front camera replaces the 7 MP selfie camera from 2019. More resolution on the front camera may not seem like the most important thing in the world, but the big draw should be that the new iPad Mini supports Center Stage to keep you centered during video calls. The quality has also been improved – while remaining at 1080p, it has improved dynamic range with more frame rate options for video and Smart HDR 3 for photos.

As for the rear camera, there are similar resolution and recording gains with a 12MP sensor and brighter f / 1.8 aperture, replacing the old 8MP @ f / 2.4. The faster aperture should be useful in low light, and when it’s too dark there’s now a four-LED True Tone flash where the 2019 model had no flash at all. On the video side, the new model is the first in the iPad Mini range to offer 4K video recording up to 60 fps.

The new iPad Mini is available in four colors: space gray, purple, pink and starlight.
Image: Apple

The latest iPad Mini now aligns with the iPad Pros and iPad Air 2020 by replacing the Lightning connector with USB-C. Apple has spoken at length about the flexibility that USB-C brings to the iPad Mini, although for some reason the new iPhone doesn’t get the same treatment. This provides more versatility for charging and connecting devices, such as full-size cameras or game controllers. You also get the faster 20-watt USB-C charger in the box, while even an iPhone 13 Pro Max. at $ 1,600 doesn’t come with a charging brick at all.

This charging design is still bad and should feel bad.

The iPad Mini line became compatible with the first generation Apple Pencil in 2019, impractical charging method and all. With the new iPad Mini, you don’t have to leave it out – it supports the new, second-generation pencil, which can charge wirelessly while magnetically docking to the tablet’s side rail. It’s a much simpler and more transparent way to get more functionality from this little tablet. If you also want to add a keyboard to the mix, there are wireless Bluetooth options.

Finally, the cellular configurations of the new iPad Mini are 5G compatible where the predecessor only has LTE. As to whether 5G really allows you to get faster speeds, well, you know the drill. But whether or not you hit those faster speeds, it is handy to have a mobile connection on such a portable device. An iPad Mini 5G (2021) will set you back an additional $ 150, bringing the price up to $ 649 (before carrier fees). Ouch. At least all 2021 iPad Mini setups have Wi-Fi 6, allowing for faster speeds at home.

iPad Mini (2021, Wi-Fi)

Apple’s redesigned iPad Mini ditches the home button and goes for a larger edge-to-edge display reminiscent of last year’s iPad Air. It’s also equipped with a faster processor, USB-C support, and a top-mounted power button that works as a Touch ID sensor.

What is the same on both models?

  • Although the new screen is larger, it has the same number of pixels per inch
  • Both screens are laminated to minimize the space between the cover glass and the screen
  • Maximum brightness of 500 nits for both panels
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensors are present on both – just in different places
  • Apple cites the same autonomy for both
  • Storage capacity always starts at 64 GB
  • The weight is almost identical (less than 8 grams)
  • Both are running iPadOS 15

As I mentioned earlier, the screen is the highlight of the new model, but you have to keep in mind that the pixel density is the same on both. The iPad Mini 2021 has a resolution of 2266 x 1488 and the iPad Mini 2019 has a 2048 x 1536 panel, both of which translate to 326 ppi. Both screens should therefore have the same sharpness, although the 2021 model gives you more screen space. Plus, the two screens are laminated, unlike the base iPad, so the pixels should look like they’re reaching the protective glass.

Another similarity is the storage capacity. The new and old models both start with 64GB of storage and can be upgraded with 256GB for an additional $ 150. This might be a bummer for some, especially as iPhone 13 models have doubled their base storage to 128GB this year. You might want to do some personal accounting and see how much storage you are currently using before paying extra.

The new iPad Mini’s Touch ID sensor is now located in the power button, opposite the volume buttons on the top rail.
Image: Apple

But what about software? Well, there isn’t much to say. The new iPad Mini will ship with iPadOS 15, and the 2019 model can be upgraded on September 20. The only main difference between the two tablets is the reliance of the new model on more gestural controls, due to the removal of the home button which is still present on the 2019 model. Since the new model ditched the home button. home, its Touch ID fingerprint sensor is integrated into the sleep / power button on the top, which is also where the volume buttons are located.

The outgoing iPad Mini (2019) still has some merits in 2021, especially if you’re on a budget.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Why might you stick with the 2019 iPad Mini?

  • Price: The old iPad Mini is currently on sale for $ 200 less than the new model
  • It’s still a great tablet even today, with more years of updates to come.
  • It has a headphone jack!
  • Classic home button operation for those who prefer it

iPad Mini (2019, 64 GB, Wi-Fi)

The 2019 iPad Mini has the same 7.9-inch display as its predecessors, but it includes an A12 Bionic processor, the same one used in the iPhone XS and iPhone XR generation.

The outgoing iPad Mini still has more than a few good things going for it. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is downright depressing to lose on the new model. All tablets – even mini ones – should have enough room for a headphone jack, but that’s a rant for another time. The 2019 iPad Mini also has the classic physical home button on the front, with Touch ID. The gesture controls in new Apple products may not be suitable for everyone, and there are still many who like the clickable home button. There is no shame in buying a 2019 iPad Mini in 2021 because you value these things.

After all that, there is the consideration of the price. Slightly aged technologies always have the added benefit of reduced prices before they are no longer available. With the price hike of the new iPad Mini, a price delta of $ 200 is no fault. The 2021 iPad Mini has almost settled into the territory of the 2020 iPad Air, and there’s a good case for why you might want to consider the Air instead.

But if you are looking for a small tablet, the choice is mainly between these old and new iPad Mini. As I mentioned, there isn’t a lot of competition in this space, which is why discounts weren’t always common. The outgoing model should still have years of updates in store, and there is a large ecosystem of compatible accessories – quite possibly also with cheaper prices attached to them. We’ll have a full review of the iPad Mini in the coming weeks, and see if its new features justify the higher price tag.