iPad mini 4

Apple introduced a thinner, lighter iPad mini 4 on September 9, 2015.

iPad mini 4 (2015)

At a Glance

  • The iPad mini 4 features an iPad Air 2-style redesign, making it thinner and lighter. It includes an A8 processor and improved rear and front-facing cameras. Pricing starts at $399 and it is available for purchase as of September 9, 2015.

Features

  • 7.9-inch laminated Retina display
  • A8 processor
  • Thinner, lighter design
  • Improved rear camera
  • Improved front-facing camera
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What's New

After the 2014 iPad mini 3 was received with disappointment because it only included a minor Touch ID update, Apple totally overhauled the iPad mini in late 2015, introducing the iPad mini 4. The iPad mini 4 is essentially an iPad Air 2 in a smaller, iPad mini-sized package.

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The iPad mini 4 is significantly thinner than previous-generation iPad mini models, measuring in at just 6.1mm thick like the iPad Air 2. Size wise, it's still 7.9 inches when measured diagonally and it continues to be the smallest tablet in Apple's iPad lineup, which also includes the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Aside from a much thinner body, the iPad mini 4 retains the same general design elements of the previous iPad mini, with a Retina display, rounded corners, thin bezels, and a Touch ID home button. It uses a new laminated gapless display technology for enhanced contrast and more vibrant colors, plus there's an antireflective screen coating that cuts down on glare.

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Inside, the iPad mini 4 has an A8 processor and M8 motion coprocessor, the same chips used in the iPhone 6, and it has 2GB of RAM, allowing it support iOS 9's latest features like Split-View Multitasking. It includes an 8-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.4 aperture and support for 30 fps 1080p HD video. For the first time, the iPad mini can capture large panoramas up to 43 megapixels and 720 fps Slo-mo video. It also supports time-lapse video and can take burst mode photos.

There's also a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera with an f/2.2 aperture that lets in 81 percent more light. The camera supports 720p HD video recording, HDR videos, and burst mode selfies. It also includes dual microphones for FaceTime calls.

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With 802.11ac WiFi, the iPad mini 4 offers much faster maximum connection speeds than previous iPad models, and it includes Bluetooth 4.2 technology and support for 20 LTE bands.

How to Buy

The iPad mini 4 became available for purchase on September 9, 2015. Available in Gold, Silver, and Space Gray, the iPad mini 4 can be purchased in 16, 64, and 128GB storage capacities. All models of the iPad mini 4 ship out within 24 hours.

The WiFi only version is priced at $399/$499/$599 for 16/64/128GB, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular version is priced at $529/$629/$729 for 16/64/128GB.

Apple is continuing to sell the iPad mini 2 at discounted prices, available in 16 and 32GB capacities for $269/$319 (Wi-Fi only) or $399/$449 (Wi-Fi + Cellular).

In More Detail

Design and Display

The iPad mini 4 looks like a smaller version of the iPad Air 2. It's just as thin, and it weighs only 0.65 pounds, making it the ultimate portable tablet. At 6.1mm thick, it's 18 percent thinner than the iPad mini 3.

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It continues to use the same 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 Retina display from the iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 and it uses the "gapless" production technique first introduced in the iPad Air 2. This combines three layers (cover glass, touch sensor, and LCD) into one layer, reducing thickness.

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According to Apple, the fully laminated display in the iPad mini 4 produces more vivid colors and better contrast than previous iPad mini displays. The laminated display of the iPad mini 4 brings the LCD layer closer to a user's eyes for a more immersive experience.

The iPad mini 4 also uses an anti-reflective coating that reduces glare to make the display more readable outdoors in the bright sunlight compared to older versions of the iPad mini.

According to some testing by DisplayMate, the iPad mini 4's color and accuracy are on par with the iPad Air 2, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6s, with an improved 101 percent color gamut. This is much better than previous iPad mini models, which had 62 percent color gamut with poor color saturation.

The iPad mini 4 has a screen reflectance of 2 percent, compared to 6.5 percent in the iPad mini 3. With a lower screen reflectance, the new iPad mini has improved readability in real-world viewing conditions. It also has between 2.5x and 3.5 higher contrast in ambient light than the iPad mini 3.

In a series of display tests comparing the displays of the iPad Pro, the iPad mini 4, and the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 4 was the winner, with DisplayMate calling it "unquestionably the best and most accurate LCD tablet display we've ever tested."

Processor

Instead of using the A8X processor from the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 4 has the 64-bit A8 processor that was first used in the iPhone 6. The A8 in the iPad mini 4 runs at 1.5 GHz, which is slightly faster than the 1.4 GHz it runs at in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple likely elected to use the A8 over the A8X because of heat-related concerns with the smaller body of the iPad mini 4.

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Because the iPad mini 4 uses a slower chip than the iPad Air 2 to drive the same display resolution and internals, performance won't be as good on the smaller tablet, but it is still a substantial improvement over the iPad mini 3. It has a 30 percent faster CPU than the iPad mini 3 and 60 percent faster graphics.

RAM

The iPad mini 4 includes 2GB RAM, an improvement over the 1GB of RAM in the iPad mini 2 and the iPad mini 3. 2GB of RAM will improve performance in apps like Safari and it allows the iPad mini 4 to support all of iOS 9's features, including full split-screen multitasking.

Battery

Internally, the iPad mini 4 has a smaller battery than the iPad mini 3 because of its thinner design. The battery measures in at 5124 mAh, while the iPad mini 3 had a 6471 mAh battery. Despite its smaller size, the iPad mini 4 continues to offer the same battery life as the iPad mini 3 because of performance optimizations.

The iPad mini 4 lasts for up to 10 hours when surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching videos, or listening to music. It lasts for up to 9 hours when surfing the web using a cellular data network.

Camera

The iPad mini 4 has an 8-megapixel camera, which is similar to the 8-megapixel camera in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It includes an advanced image signal processor that offers improved face detection, faster focusing, and better noise reduction.

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With the 8-megapixel camera, the iPad mini 4 is capable of capturing 1080p HD videos, and it also supports both 120 FPS Slo-Mo videos, high-resolution panoramas, and Burst Mode photos.

A new 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera has also been included in the iPad mini 4, with an improved sensor and a larger f/2.2 aperture that lets in 81 percent more light compared to the camera in older models. The front-facing camera can capture 720p HD video.

Touch ID

The iPad mini 4 comes equipped with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, adding an additional layer of protection to the tablet and enabling it to make Apple Pay payments within apps.

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Touch ID is also able to replace the traditional passcode functionality on the iPhone, cutting down on the time that it takes to unlock the phone, make purchases, and access sensitive content within apps.

Other Improvements

Apple's iPad mini 4 includes a motion coprocessor with a gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS, and compass functionality. It also includes a barometer for the first time, which can measure altitude based on air pressure.

The iPad mini 4 supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO support, which is twice as fast as 802.11n. Apple advertises speeds of up to 866MB/s with the new Wi-Fi chip.

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Cellular + Wi-Fi models support LTE Advanced, using carrier aggregation to offer LTE connection speeds of up to 150MB/s. The iPad mini 4 includes support for up to 20 LTE bands, allowing it to connect to high-speed LTE networks in many locations across the world.

The iPad mini 4 includes the Apple SIM for WiFi + Cellular models, giving users the freedom to move between carriers at will when traveling.

Operating System

The iPad mini 4 ships with Apple's latest operating system, iOS 9. It supports split-screen multitasking, which allows two apps to run side-by-side on the iPad's display.

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iOS 9 also includes a focus on intelligence and proactivity, letting iOS devices learn user habits and act on that information through app suggestions, notifications, and a customized "Siri Suggestions" interface populated with the user's favorite contacts and apps, along with nearby places and relevant news stories.

iOS 9 includes several revamped apps, and it also focuses heavily on under-the-hood improvements that increase battery life and decrease the amount of storage space apps and operating system updates take up on an iOS device.

What's Next

In 2014, the iPad mini received only a minor update that added Touch ID to the iPad mini 2, while in 2015, the iPad Air 2 received no update at all. It is not clear when Apple will release another update to the iPad mini, but it's possible the company is now planning to do iPad refreshes on an every-other-year basis going forward.

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