Apple has revived their iPad Mini line up after 4 years of everyone, including myself, thinking it was dead. This is the brand new iPad Mini, and here are my thoughts on Apple’s smallest and most portable tablet!
The Mini 5 starts at $400, which is $70 more than what the original iPad Mini used to cost back in 2012. It’s currently not the cheapest iPad that you can buy, there’s the entry level iPad which is larger, but it also comes with weaker specs and a significantly worse display.
What the iPad Mini offers compared to the Air and Pro for example, is a very compact form factor. In fact this thing is so compact that I can hold it in one hand and if you have some fairly larger pockets or a hoody it would even fit in those. I would highly recommend this if you travel a lot as it is the perfect iPad to carry on a plane or a coach trip.
My only complaint here is that whilst it is extremely portable, the design basically hasn’t changed since the first iPad Mini was launched back in 2012. The Mini 5 retains the small improvements that the Mini 4 got, like the laminated display and the thinner overall form, whilst also getting a darker shade of space grey, which does look really nice.
The edges are not reflective anymore, they’re not matte, but that’s it. We do have the exact same thick bezels as the original, which you can argue is good to have on a tablet, since you have something to hold it by, but that’s not necessarily true. The 2018 iPad Pro for example, had some insanely thin bezels and the accidental touch rejection was so good on that thing that you could hold it by the display and still use it! Now the Mini itself does have some incredible accidental touch rejection but only on the sides. So it is no problem at all if you accidentally touch the display when using this in portrait due to the thin side bezels.
Now I have seen a lot of reviewers and tech websites say that the iPhone XS Max is almost as big as an iPad Mini is, and there’s no point in getting a Mini anymore, which isn’t correct at all.
You see the Mini has a 4:3 aspect ratio display compared to 19.5:9, which means that you can read full sized pages of a book or even comic books, without having to scroll or zoom in on the Mini. So if you’re into reading books and pretty much browsing in general, the Mini is a significant upgrade from even a large screen smartphone.
Speaking of reading, the display itself has been improved significantly over the years. We got a Retina Display with the Mini 2 and that laminated display I mentioned earlier with the Mini 4, but with the Mini 5, everything got even better.
The colors are more vibrant, with the inclusion of a DCI-P3 panel, just like on the iPad Pro so everything just pops, and the difference between the 5 and the 4 is definitely noticeable. It’s also a brighter display, which I do like a lot! It can now go up to 500 nits compared to the 350 or so we had before, so this would be a great tablet to use outdoors and on the go. At 326PPI this is also the sharpest iPad, with all the others having which 264PPI, and it does have to be that way since the Mini is smaller and you would therefore be holding it closer to your eyes.
Overall it’s a great display, I just wish that the display was larger. There’s so much room on the top and the bottom that Apple isn’t utilising which I really hope changes with the next generation’s design.
For those of you who like taking pictures with iPads the camera’s pretty good, for an iPad Mini that is. It’s nowhere near the capabilities of the iPad Pro’s camera but the front camera is now a 7MP sensor, from the horrible 1.2MP one that we had on the Mini 4. Unfortunately the back camera isn’t that great, it’s an old 8MP sensor from a few iPhone generations ago and can only do 1080p video but the Apple A12’s processor does make a pretty big difference in terms of image processing. So if you would be using it for scanning documents and occasional photo taking, it’s more than good enough.
Now in terms of the iPad Mini 5’s performance and fluidity, every single iPad Mini came with the same processor that the iPhones came with a year before. The Mini 1 released in 2012 came with the Apple A5 CPU, same as in the iPhone 4S from 2011 and so on.
But the Mini 5, instead of coming with the Apple A11 from the iPhone X, it actually comes with the A12 from the iPhone XS! Which means the performance on this thing is incredible! Everything is buttery smooth, it maybe even more powerful than your own laptop!
I think that the best thing about having this much power in such a small tablet is that becomes literally the perfect portable gaming console. iOS games are not only the best ones on any mobile platform, in terms of graphics and how well they run on older devices, but on the Mini 5 for example, thanks to the power of the A12, you can play games such as Fortnite in native resolution at high settings and you can even attach a controller!
With this boost in performance you can do video editing on this, even 4K video editing, but I wouldn’t really recommend it because of the small display size, but what I’m getting at is that whatever you throw at this it can easily handle it!
In terms of how well iOS runs on this, it’s still iOS so you’re very limited in terms of functionality but since the iPad Mini runs on the iPad UI rather than the iPhone UI, you can actually run multiple apps at the same time.
Apple does offer you years of day 1 updates too, the iPad Air 2 from 2014 is still fully supported 5 years after it was launched. So expect to be able to see this for many years!
It’s worth noting that iOS 13 would be coming with some major iPad UI overhaul and I am 100% sure that some, if not all of those features would be coming to the Mini 5 as well. Even with iOS 12 we got full gesture support, just like on the 2018 iPad Pro, so even if the home button is still there you can indeed use the same gestures as on the iPad Pro 2018 and fully navigate the UI which is a real plus!
Now this section is something that has to be discussed, and I am really happy about this, and that is that the Mini 5 now has support for the Apple Pencil.
But this is a bit of a weird one because the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard have both been exclusive to the iPad Pro, as Apple’s been selling the Pro as a professional grade device. Now that they added both Apple Pencil and Smart-keyboard support to the iPad Air 3, and Apple Pencil support to the Mini, Apple is clearly moving away from the idea that only the iPad Pros should have the best features.
I mean, it’s not the 2nd generation Apple Pencil that the iPad Pro comes with, it’s still the 1st gen one which connects very weirdly, but it is an a mazing thing to have. Unfortunately you do have to buy it separately and yes, it does feel weird using the pencil on such a small display, especially considering that the pencil itself is bigger than the entire length of the display. But it’s perfect for things such as taking notes, and drawing professional art if you so wished.
Ok so in the end, while personally I do use an iPad Pro every single day and don’t intend to switch to a Mini anytime soon, the Mini 5 is not only the best entry into the iOS ecosystem, but it is also the best small form factor tablet on the market by a wide margin.
There’s absolutely nothing that even comes close in terms of the performance, the massive app selection, the software support and the best mobile gaming experience on the market right now, especially if you connect a controller.