iPad mini 4
Apple smallest iPad received a price cut on March 21, 2017.
At a Glance
- The iPad mini 4 launched in September 2015 and features an iPad Air 2-style redesign, making it thinner and lighter. It includes an A8 processor and improved rear and front-facing cameras. Apple has changed storage and pricing options several times, most recently cutting back to a single 128 GB storage option at $399 for Wi-Fi and $529 for Wi-Fi + Cellular on March 21, 2017, but no other changes have been made.
- 7.9-inch laminated Retina display
- A8 processor
- Thinner, lighter design
- Improved rear camera
- Improved front-facing camera
What's Next for the iPad mini
In 2016, the iPad mini received no refresh, and in 2017, the only update so far has been a price drop for the 128GB storage tier. It is not clear if and when additional 7.9-inch iPad mini updates will be introduced.
There is a rumor suggesting Apple plans to introduce a new 7.9-inch iPad mini that's branded as a "Pro" model alongside larger iPad Pro tablets, but that rumor said the new model would come in the spring of 2017, and all we saw announced was a price drop.
As of March 21, the existing iPad mini 4 is only available with 128GB of storage for $399 (Wi-Fi) or $529 (Wi-Fi + Cellular). The new 128GB storage tier is priced the same as the previous 32GB storage tier, introducing much more storage space at a lower price. The iPad mini 2, previously available as a low-cost option, has been discontinued entirely.
Should Apple still be planning to introduce a new iPad mini model in the future, rumors suggest it will gain features that will bring it in line with its bigger siblings, including a Smart Connector for connecting to accessories, a True Tone display able to adjust to ambient lighting conditions, four speakers for stereo sound, a 12-megapixel rear camera with True Tone flash, quad microphones, and an improved processor.
The iPad mini 4
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.
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.
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 to support 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.
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, all models of the iPad mini 4 ship out within 24 hours.
On March 21, 2017, Apple began offering the iPad mini in a single 128GB capacity, priced at $399 for the Wi-Fi only model and $529 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The $399 price point is the same price as the previous 32GB iPad mini 4, so Apple has added more storage space at no additional cost.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 improves performance in apps like Safari and it allows the iPad mini 4 to support the latest software features, including full split-screen multitasking.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.