iPad mini 4
Apple is expected to introduce an updated iPad mini in the fall of 2015.
At a Glance
The iPad mini 4 is rumored to be thinner and lighter with an iPad Air 2-style redesign, an A9 processor, and an improved display. It will be a significant update over the 2014 iPad mini 3, which only introduced Touch ID.
- 7.9-inch laminated Retina display
- Anti-reflective display coating
- A9 processor
- iOS 9
- Thinner, lighter design
Apple is expected to introduce a major update to the iPad mini in the fall of 2015, bringing it on par with the larger-screened iPad Air 2. Though the iPad mini was updated in 2014, the refresh was a minor one that only added Touch ID to the existing Retina iPad mini internals.
The iPad mini's 2014 update was largely disappointing to consumers, especially compared to the iPad Air 2 update that introduced a slimmed-down design, an A8X processor, and 2GB of RAM to the iPad Air. Since the 2014 iPad mini update was so unimpressive, rumors about a next-generation iPad mini with a more substantial upgrade started up early in 2015.
The iPad mini 4 will essentially be a smaller version of the iPad Air 2, with an ultra-thin 6.1mm body and iPad Air 2 improvements like an 8-megapixel rear camera and a laminated gapless display with the same anti-reflective coating. According to Apple, the laminated display results in both a thinner body and "more vivid colors and greater contrast," so the iPad mini's screen should see a notable improvement.
Rumors have not unveiled details about the iPad mini 4's internal specifications, but there have been hints suggesting the tablet will have internals that are on par with the iPad Air 2, allowing it to support the Split View multitasking feature built into iOS 9.
For that reason, it's likely the iPad mini 4 will include either the same A8X processor in the iPad Air 2 or the next-generation A9 processor that's expected to be used in the 2015 iPhones. It may also have 2GB of RAM like the iPad Air 2.
In addition to being as thin as the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 4 will also take on the same design features. iPad mini 4 part leaks have revealed a rear shell that includes a single row of larger speaker holes alongside the Lightning port of the device, rather than two smaller rows, and a missing mute switch that's been replaced with a microphone hole. Most notably though, the iPad mini 4 will be both thinner and lighter than the existing iPad mini 3.
The iPad mini 4 will undoubtedly ship with iOS 9, Apple's upcoming iOS update, and it will include existing features like Touch ID, LTE support, and 16/32/64/128GB storage capacities. While Apple's iPhone line is expected to gain Force Touch this year, it looks like the iPad lineup will not gain the feature in 2015.
Apple plans to hold an iPhone-centric event during the week of September 7, perhaps on September 9. Rumors have suggested the next-generation iPads may also make an appearance at this event, so there's a possibility we may see the iPad mini 4 in September instead of October.
Apple unveiled the second-generation Retina iPad mini (aka the iPad mini 3) alongside the iPad Air 2 in October of 2014, but unlike its larger sibling, the iPad mini saw no updates aside from the addition of a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a gold color option.
Except for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, the iPad mini 3 has the same form factor as its predecessor, and it also continues to offer the A7 chip introduced with the first Retina iPad mini. With Touch ID support, however, the iPad mini 3 can be used to make online Apple Pay purchases in participating apps.
Many reviews have suggested that because the iPad mini 3 only gained Touch ID support and a gold color option without any other upgrades, the new tablet is not worth purchasing over the iPad mini 2. iPad mini 3 pricing starts at $399 while iPad mini 2 pricing starts at $299, so customers who purchase the mini 3 are paying a $100 premium just for the new fingerprint sensor.
In More Detail
Because the only improvement to the iPad mini 3 was the addition of a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, it continues to offer all of the same features of the original Retina iPad mini (now called the iPad mini 2).
The iPad mini 3 has the same measurements as the iPad mini 2, with a thickness of 7.2mm and a weight of 0.73 to 0.75 pounds (Wi-Fi only vs. Cellular). It features both the A7 chip and the M7 motion coprocessor that were originally introduced in the iPhone 5s, along with a 2048 x 1536 Retina screen.
While the iPad mini 3 does have the fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating that comes standard on all Apple devices, it does not offer the special antireflective coating that was added to the iPad Air 2.
The iPad mini 3 has the same 5-megapixel f/2.4 aperture camera that was in the iPad mini 2, which supports 1080p video recording. iOS 8 updates bring features like improved panoramas, a timer mode, time-lapse video, and more. The iPad mini 3 does support Slo-mo video or burst mode photos like the iPad Air 2. It also continues to offer the same 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera.
Wi-Fi and Cellular
The iPad mini 3 continues to offer 802.11n Wi-Fi, as it was not updated with 802.11ac support like the iPad Air 2. It also does not include support for LTE Advanced, offering the same LTE speeds as its predecessor.
Apple's iPad mini 3 offers up to 10 hours of battery life when surfing the web, watching video, or listening to music on Wi-Fi, or 9 hours of battery life when surfing the web using a cellular connection.
The iPad mini 3 continues to use the same 7.9-inch LED backlight Multi-Touch IPS display that was originally used in the iPad mini 2, Apple's first iPad mini with a Retina display.
While it offers a 326 ppi 2048 x 1536 resolution, the iPad mini 2's display was heavily criticized for its poor color gamut, which at 63 percent, is much narrower than that of the iPad Air. The iPad mini 3, unfortunately, suffers from the exact same Color Gamut flaw as it uses the same display.
According to display expert Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies, the iPad mini 3's display is a "major disappointment" and as a result, the tablet itself is "embarrassingly mediocre and way overpriced" at $100 more than the iPad mini 2.
Like the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 has an NFC Controller built in. There is no accompanying NFC antenna to allow the tablet to make NFC-based payments within stores, the NFC Controller chip is where Apple Pay's "Secure Element" is located. According to Apple, the Secure Element is a dedicated chip that stores encrypted Device Account Numbers, which replace credit card numbers for security reasons.
Though the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 are not able to make payments in retail stores, they can make Apple Pay payments within participating apps and thus utilize both the Secure Element and Device Account Numbers.
Which iPad to Buy
Planning to buy a new iPad? Make sure to check out our guide on which iPad might be best for you. It walks you through each of the different models, the differences between them, and what you should take into account when you're choosing between an iPad Air or an iPad mini.
How to Buy
Apple began offering pre-orders for the iPad mini 3 in its online store on October 17, with retail availability coming on October 23. The iPad mini 3 is available in gold, silver, and space gray, with 16, 64, and 128GB storage sizes. The Wi-Fi 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 $299/$349 (Wi-Fi only) or $429/479 (Wi-Fi + Cellular).