Hands-On With Apple's New iPad Air 3 and iPad Mini 5

Apple last week surprised us with a brand new iPad in the iPad Air family and a new iPad mini 5, both of which are outfitted with Apple's latest chip technology.

Both the ‌iPad mini‌ 5 and the ‌iPad Air‌ 3 began shipping out to customers, and, as of today, are available in stores. We picked up both tablets to give MacRumors readers a look at Apple's new middle-tier iPads.


Priced at $399 for the ‌iPad mini‌ and $499 for the ‌iPad Air‌, Apple's refreshed iPads are not as expensive as the iPad Pro (starts at $799) nor as affordable as the 6th-generation 2018 ‌iPad‌ (starts at $329), and the hardware and design match up with a middle-of-the-road tablet.

The ‌iPad Air‌ is using the same design as the 10.5-inch ‌iPad Pro‌, while the ‌iPad mini‌ 5 uses the same design as the previous-generation ‌iPad mini‌ 4. Both tablets feature thick top and bottom bezels, with the bottom bezel housing a Touch ID Home button for biometric authentication purposes.

ipadairipadmini 1
In comparison, the ‌iPad Pro‌ has much slimmer bezels thanks to the removal of ‌Touch ID‌ in favor of Face ID, while the $329 ‌iPad‌ has the same general design but a body that's not as slim.

When it comes to the screen, both of these tablets are using a laminated Retina display that supports wide color for vivid, true to life images and True Tone for adjusting the white balance to match the ambient lighting in the room. It's a better display than the non-laminated display on Apple's cheapest ‌iPad‌, but lacks the ProMotion technology used in the ‌iPad Pro‌ for a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz.

ipadmini
The ‌iPad Air‌ and the ‌iPad mini‌ support the original Apple Pencil, so for the first time, Apple's entire ‌iPad‌ lineup works with either the original ‌Apple Pencil‌ or the ‌Apple Pencil‌ 2.

Inside, the ‌iPad Air‌ and the ‌iPad mini‌ are using the A12 Bionic chip, which is the same chip that's in the 2018 iPhone lineup. The $329 ‌iPad‌ is still using an A10 Fusion chip from the ‌iPhone‌ 7 era, while the ‌iPad Pro‌ models use a faster A12X chip.

ipadair
Functionally, both the ‌iPad Air‌ 3 and the ‌iPad mini‌ 5 are the same tablet with the same specs, with the only difference between the two being screen size and Smart Keyboard compatibility. The ‌iPad Air‌ has a Smart Connector that can be used with a Smart Keyboard, which costs $159. There's no ‌Smart Keyboard‌ for ‌iPad mini‌ because it lacks a ‌Smart Connector‌.

The two iPads have mediocre 8-megapixel rear cameras, the same camera that's in the $329 ‌iPad‌, but the 7-megapixel front-facing camera is the same camera (minus ‌Face ID‌ technology) used in the ‌iPad Pro‌. It's odd to have front and rear cameras that are nearly on par, but it makes sense if you think of the ‌iPad‌ as a FaceTiming device more so than a photography device.

Both of these iPads offer significant performance improvements over their predecessors. The ‌iPad mini‌ 5 is a good deal faster than the ‌iPad mini‌ 4, and the ‌iPad Air‌ is faster than the 10.5-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ (though it lacks the same ProMotion technology). It's also leagues faster than any previous ‌iPad Air‌ model as that was a line that was last refreshed in 2014 before being revived in 2019.

ipadairoldvsnew

Old ‌iPad Air‌ on left, new ‌iPad Air‌ on right

If you're using an older ‌iPad‌ and are in need of an upgrade, you're not going to go wrong with the ‌iPad mini‌ 5 or the ‌iPad Air‌ 3 given the incredible speed boosts these tablets bring thanks to the A12 chip. As everyday tablets, the ‌iPad mini‌ and ‌iPad Air‌ are a solid value and a welcome addition to Apple's ‌iPad‌ lineup, which was previously split between high end (‌iPad Pro‌) and low end (‌iPad‌). Check out our iPad Buyer's Guide for help choosing an ‌iPad‌ if you're not sure which one is right for you.

You can get the ‌iPad mini‌ for $399 for 64GB of storage, and 256GB is available for $549. The ‌iPad Air‌ starts at $499 for 64GB of storage, with 256GB available for $649. Cellular models are available too, for an extra $130 over each base price.

What do you think of the new ‌iPad mini‌ and the new ‌iPad Air‌? Have you purchased one or are you planning to get one? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundups: iPad mini, iPad Air
Related Forum: iPad

Top Rated Comments

kirk.israel Avatar
48 months ago
I bought an iPad Mini yesterday. It's great, very comfortable for doodling on, and a great reader. And the first iPad I've bothered to set up Touch ID on. People who hate on "but the bezels" can go suck an egg - this is very comfortable to hold. I'm sure Apple will provide a Pro version in a few years if you REALLY want to spend a few more hundred for bezels and a flat clip-on pencil.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
48 months ago
The physical-click Home button is what baffles me. I wonder if they are recycling these components from older devices? I'd be surprised, since this clickable button does tend to wear out. The haptic Home button was a smart upgrade, so it's confusing why Apple didn't standardize on that. Maybe the haptic feedback is not as effective on a tablet vs a phone?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NickName99 Avatar
48 months ago
I got my iPad Mini on Wednesday. It’s brilliant. The laminated TrueTone P3 display looks great. A12 is speedy. 3GB RAM confirmed in GeekBench. TouchID is gen 2, pretty much instant. This is my first iPad, I’ve never wanted a full size one. I’m very happy with the $399 price, the performance and display. Recommended!
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Skyblve Avatar
48 months ago
Just got the iPad mini. It is amazing, keyboard is much easier to use than iPad Pro and iPad Air. Fast Touch ID gen2 and it just amazing for the price range. ~300
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Klae17 Avatar
48 months ago
New iPads are always appreciated. Did they upgrade the screen quality or camera quality?
Did you read the article?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NickName99 Avatar
48 months ago
A lot of mini lovers in here and god love ‘em. I thought it was put out to pasture when the education 9.7” was released last year.
Full sized iPads have never interested in in the least, who wants to lug that around? The Mini is the size of a book, it’s perfect. It’s always been a bit too slow, the display lacked TrueTone, the $399 model only had 16GB, but this time it checks all the boxes. It’s great to have options!
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Black Friday Deals 2022 Green

All the Apple Black Friday Deals You Can Still Get

Friday November 25, 2022 4:40 am PST by
Although Black Friday is now technically over, many Apple products are still seeing major discounts through the weekend as we head into Cyber Monday. In this article, you'll find every Apple device with a notable Black Friday sale that's still available. We'll be updating as prices change and new deals arrive, so be sure to keep an eye out if you don't see the sale you're looking for yet. Note:...
iphone 14 pro hands snowflakes 1

Best Cyber Monday iPhone Deals Available Today

Wednesday November 23, 2022 1:55 pm PST by
Cellular carriers have always offered big savings on the newest iPhone models during the holidays, and Cyber Monday is no different. We're tracking notable offers on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro devices from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. For even more savings, keep an eye on older models like the iPhone 13. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
maxresdefault

Nothing Phone 1 Displays AirPods Battery Level After Latest OS Update

Friday November 25, 2022 3:33 am PST by
Nothing Phone 1 users today began receiving the Nothing OS 1.1.7 update, which adds support for displaying the battery percentage of connected AirPods, amongst other improvements and bug fixes. If you own a Nothing Phone 1, you can check for the OTA update by going to Settings -> System -> System updates. Bear in mind that as support for displaying AirPods battery level is still an...
ipad holiday bulbs

Best Cyber Monday iPad Deals Available Today

Thursday November 24, 2022 12:25 pm PST by
Cyber Monday deals have been in full swing since Black Friday deals ended, and we're seeing solid discounts on Apple devices. We're highlighting the best sales for all of Apple's product lines, and in this article you'll find the best Cyber Monday sales on iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad mini. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make ...
airpods pro 2

Apple Engineer Addresses Lack of Lossless Support on New AirPods Pro

Friday November 25, 2022 2:58 am PST by
An Apple engineer has addressed the lack of lossless audio support in the second-generation AirPods Pro in a new interview. Current Bluetooth technology in the AirPods lineup means that Apple's audio products do not support Apple Music Lossless audio. Apple has previously hinted that it may develop its own codec and connectivity standard that builds on AirPlay and supports higher quality...
Cyber Monday Deals Feature 2022

Best Cyber Monday Apple Deals Still Available for AirPods, Apple TV, iPad, and More

Monday November 28, 2022 5:24 am PST by
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping rush is drawing to a close, but there are still some good deals to be had out there. For Apple products, many of the deals you've seen since last week are still available, though some have expired. So for anyone who missed out on Black Friday deals, there's still an opportunity to get some of the year's best prices on many Apple devices. Note: ...
Apple Watch Ultra Oceanic Plus App

Apple Announces Oceanic+ App Now Available for Apple Watch Ultra

Monday November 28, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Apple today announced that the Oceanic+ app is available for the Apple Watch Ultra starting today. Designed by Huish Outdoors in collaboration with Apple, the app serves as a dive computer for recreational scuba diving at depths up to 40 meters/130 feet. Apple already offers a basic Depth app on the Apple Watch Ultra for viewing your current depth, maximum depth reached, water temperature,...
Three Biggest iPhone SE 4 Questions Feature

Three Biggest Questions About the iPhone SE 4

Saturday November 26, 2022 12:00 am PST by
While we already have some clear indications about what to expect from the fourth-generation iPhone SE, there are three major questions looming over the device at the current time. Chinese site MyDrivers and and leaker Jon Prosser believe that the iPhone SE is set to move to an iPhone XR-like design in its next incarnation, which would involve eliminating the Home button and adding a "notch" ...