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 5, iPad Air

Top Rated Comments

kirk.israel Avatar
22 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
22 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
22 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
22 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
22 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
22 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)

Top Stories

maxresdefault

Italy Fines Apple $12 Million for Misleading iPhone Water Resistance Claims

Monday November 30, 2020 3:10 am PST by
Apple has been slapped with a 10 million euro ($12 million) fine by Italy's antitrust watchdog for unfair commercial practices related to its iPhone marketing in the country. One of the Apple ads cited in the Italian watchdog's proceedings (credit: setteBIT) Specifically, Apple is being charged for misleading claims in promotional messages about how deep and how long iPhones can be submerged...
m1 chip macbook air pro

Developer Delves Into Reasons Why Apple's M1 Chip is So Fast

Monday November 30, 2020 1:57 pm PST by
Apple's M1 chip is the fastest chip that Apple has ever released in a Mac based on single-core CPU benchmark scores, and it beats out many high-end Intel Macs when it comes to multi-core performance. Developer Erik Engheim recently shared a deep dive into the M1 chip, exploring the reasons why Apple's new processor is so much faster than the Intel chips that it replaces. First and foremost,...
General cyber monday 20 sale feature

Apple Cyber Monday 2020: Discounts on iPads, Macs, AirPods, and More [Updated]

Monday November 30, 2020 6:25 am PST by
Today is Cyber Monday, a shopping event that sees many of the same deals from Black Friday bleed over into a new week, along with a few brand new offers on everything from Apple products to related accessories. In this post we'll highlight the best online discounts that you can find on Apple devices today. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
16 inch MBP Mini Led

Mini-LED M1 MacBook Pro and Mini-LED iPad Pro Models Coming First Half of 2021

Monday November 30, 2020 2:24 am PST by
Apple is widely reported to be embracing mini-LED display backlighting technology for some products next year, and a new report today by DigiTimes has named several of Apple's partners in the supply chain that are expected to benefit from the switch. According to the report, Apple is set to launch its first mini-LED iPad Pro in the first quarter of 2021 and mass produce mini-LED MacBook Pro...
Mac Mini 2018

Apple Developers Now Able to Natively Run macOS Within AWS With Amazon EC2 Mac Instances

Monday November 30, 2020 9:01 pm PST by
As AWS re:Invent kicks off, Amazon Web Services today announced new Mac instances for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, allowing AWS customers to run on-demand macOS workloads in the AWS cloud for the first time. Amazon says that the new feature extends the flexibility, scalability, and cost benefits of AWS to all Apple developers as those creating apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple...
periscope iPhone feature2

Apple Moving Forward With Plans for 'Folded' Periscope Cameras to Significantly Increase iPhone's Optical Zoom

Monday November 30, 2020 8:01 am PST by
Apple is advancing its plans to significantly enhance the iPhone's optical zoom range using periscope lens technology, according to ETNews. Citing industry sources familiar with the development of iPhone cameras, ETNews report says Apple is currently seeking an appropriate "folded" periscope camera solution for the iPhone and has already initiated discussions with suppliers. Apple has...
apple fitness plus instructor kim ngo

Apple Fitness+ Promotion Ramps Up as Launch Approaches

Sunday November 29, 2020 11:57 am PST by
Promotion for Apple Fitness+ is ramping up, with advertising initiatives and teases from instructors being spotted on social media, indicating that the new subscription service may be launching imminently. MacRumors reader Chris Weaver spotted that Best Buy has started advertising six-month free trials of Apple Fitness+ with Apple Watch purchases. The advert suggests that retailers have...
iphone 12 colors

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived last month in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 are ...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air m1

Notable Developer Starts Patreon to Fund Apple Silicon Linux Port

Monday November 30, 2020 4:23 pm PST by
Developer Hector Martin, who describes himself as someone who "likes putting Linux on things," has launched a plan create a Linux port for Apple Silicon Macs. Martin, also known as "Marcan," has created a Patreon with the goal of earning enough funding to be able to take on the complexities of bringing Linux to Macs equipped with an M1 chip. Creating a Linux port is no easy task, and Linux...
leather sleeve iphone 12 box

Hands-On With the Leather Sleeve for iPhone 12 Models

Monday November 30, 2020 2:13 pm PST by
Apple this year came out with a handful of accessories for the new iPhone 12 models, and in addition to the standard Silicone and Leather cases, there's also a new Leather Sleeve that recently went on sale. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We picked up one of the Leather Sleeves to check it out to see if it's worth the $129 that Apple is charging. The Leather Sleeve ...