You’re excused for not caring much about the iPad mini 4, which Apple unveiled yesterday alongside other new gadgets. Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, literally spent a few seconds talking about the new mini.
But there’s more to the iPad mini 4 than meets the eye. I’ve combed through Apple’s press releases, read every word about it on their website and watched the entire presentation twice to bring you this handy listicle of ten things you may not have known about the fourth-generation iPad mini.
Before we get to it, just a quick reminder that its predecessor, the iPad mini 3, was also a modest upgrade as the only improvements over the iPad mini 2 were Touch ID and a gold color option. Because it was nearly identical to the iPad mini 2 hardware-wise, the iPad mini 3 drew fainter praise than its predecessor.
Thinner and lighter than iPad mini 3, more pocketable than iPad Air 2
At just 0.65 pounds, the new iPad mini is lighter than the iPad mini 3 (0.73 pounds). It’s also eighteen percent thinner, measuring 6.1mm (0.24 inch) in profile versus its predecessor’s 7.5mm (0.29 inch) body—a discernible 1.4mm difference.
iPad mini 3 dimensions and weight:
- Height: 200 mm (7.9 inches)
- Width: 134.7 mm (5.3 inches)
- Depth: 7.5 mm (0.3 inch)
- Weight (Wi-Fi): 331 g (0.73 pound)
- Weight (Wi-Fi + Cellular): 341 grams (0.752 pound)
iPad mini 4 dimensions and weight:
- Height: 203.2 mm (8 inches)
- Width: 134.8 mm (5.3 inches)
- Depth: 6.1 mm (0.24 inch)
- Weight (Wi-Fi): 298.8 grams g (0.65 pound)
- Weight (Wi-Fi + Cellular): 304 grams g (0.67 pound)
With a screen measuring 7.9 inches diagonally, the iPad mini 4 offers more screen space than the iPhone 6s Plus and is more pocketable than the iPad Air 2 with its 9.7-inch screen.
Fully laminated display
Unlike previous iPad minis that were constructed with three separate display components, the iPad mini 4 fuses those three layers into one. This screen assembly process, also known as in-cell technology, is also used on iPhones and iPad Airs.
Because the in-cell process basically eliminates gaps between the layers, the internal reflectance caused by those gaps is reduced. You get greater contrast, more lifelike colors and sharper images that look as if painted directly on the glass for the LCD layer is now closer than ever to your eyes.
Both touch sensitivity and accuracy of the screen have been improved, too, especially when you make quick gestures. Lastly, a custom-designed antireflective coating reduces glare by 56 percent compared with previous iPad min displays.
No, it doesn’t have the power and performance of iPad Air 2
Apple’s marketing honcho Phil Schiller proclaimed during yesterday’s keynote presentation that with the iPad mini 4 Apple has taken “the power and performance of the iPad Air 2 and built it into an even smaller, mini enclosure.”
That’s not 100 percent true: the iPad Air 2 runs an improved A8X microchip and the iPad mini 4 is outfitted with the iPhone 6’s A8 chip (does that mean the iPad mini 4 has 1GB of RAM and not two gigs like the iPad Air 2?).
Assuming Apple hasn’t modified the A8 for the iPad mini 4 aside from tweaking the clock frequency, the tablet should offer iPhone 6-class, or marginally better, speed when running apps and games, multitasking and more.
In terms of numbers, the A8 offers sixty percent faster graphics and thirty percent faster CPU than the A7 chip inside the original iPad Air. While impressive, that still comes bellow the iPad Air 2 whose modified A8X chip brings two and a half times faster graphics and a forty percent CPU bump over the A7.
It’s replaced iPad mini 3
No surprises here.
Given the modest improvements and Apple’s complex iPad lineup, the iPad mini 4 has taken the place of its predecessor while the iPad mini 2 got discounted to $269.
The full iPad lineup is now comprised of the following tablets:
- iPad mini 2 — starts from $269
- iPad mini 4 — starts from $399
- iPad Air — starts from $399
- iPad Air 2 — starts from $499
- iPad Pro — starts from $799
The iPad mini 4 is definitely a tougher sell than the now discounted iPad mini 2.
At $399, it will set you back the same amount as the iPad Air, which despite sharing the same hardware as the new mini sports a bigger 9.7-inch screen. If money and not portability is a priority for you, chances are some of you will opt for the iPad Air over the iPad mini 4.
In addition to the faster A8 chip, the iPad mini 4 includes an enhanced wireless subsystem. Wi-Fi got bumped from the 802.11an standard to three times faster 802.11ac capable of achieving a theoretical throughput of 866 Mbps.
Cellular iPad mini 4 models now run on more cellular networks than before, including CDMA Rev. A and B ones, support a total of 20 LTE bands and offer up to fifty percent faster cellular connectivity at 150MBps.
Both the new iPad mini and the model it’s replaced support 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and use MIMO technology for improved reception. The device also includes the latest in Bluetooth networking, Bluetooth 4.2.
The discontinued iPad mini 3 used the previous-generation Bluetooth 4.0.
Interestingly enough, both the iPad Pro and new iPhones have been upgraded to Bluetooth 4.2 but not the new Apple TV—it runs Bluetooth 4.0. The sixth-generation iPod touch is the first Apple device to have adopted Bluetooth 4.2.
Apple is now a promoting member of Bluetooth SIG and has voting rights, meaning it can, and will, influence the direction and pace of Bluetooth development.
In addition to improved power efficiency and stronger security and privacy, Bluetooth 4.2 delivers 2.5 times better data transfer speeds and claims nearly ten times the data capacity of the previous generation.
Apple rates the iPad mini 4 with the same ten-hour battery life like every other iPhone model to this date. However, it’s worth pointing out that the iPad mini 4 achieves the same run time with a smaller-capacity 19.1-watt-hour (WHr) rechargeable lithium-polymer battery versus the iPad mini 3’s stronger 23.8 WHr package.
Better iSight shooter
The front-facing FaceTime camera on the iPad mini 4 is largely unchanged.
It’s still a paltry 1.2-megapixel shooter with 720p video capture, but now with Burst mode and improved low-light performance stemming from an improved sensor with larger pixels and the use of a larger ƒ/2.2 aperture that lets in 81 percent more light.
The iSight shooter out the back is much more interesting: it’s gone from five to eight megapixels so iPad mini 4 owners can capture more detail in photos.
In addition to the megapixel bump, the iSight camera packs in an improved sensor and benefits from the A8’s enhanced image signal processor with improved face-detection technology that keeps smaller faces in focus and produces cleaner, sharper images.
Like its predecessor, the iPad mini 4 shoots video in 1080p and is capable of Time-Lapse, Panoramas (up to 43 megapixels), Slo-Mo videos at 120 frames per second and Burst images (ten images per second), in addition to the usual photo and video modes.
It supports side-by-side iOS 9 apps
Despite its smaller canvas, Apple says the iPad mini 4 supports new multitasking modes in iOS 9: Slide Over, Split View and Picture in Picture.
It might have 2GB of RAM
When Apple previewed iOS 9 at WWDC this summer, it underscored that side-by-side apps in iOS 9 will be supported only on the then flagship iPad Air 2 model. The iPad Air 2 is the first iOS device with 2GB of RAM, which leads us to believe that the iPad mini 4 is also outfitted with two gigs of RAM to support running apps side-by-side.
It doesn’t fit iPad mini 3 cases
Due to the switch to an iPad Air-like design and a thinner, slightly taller appearance, existing cases for the third-generation iPad mini won’t fit the new tablet.
If you’re in the market for a case for your iPad mini 4, check out Apple’s redesigned Smart Covers and Silicone Cases designed just for the iPad mini 4 and available in a range of new colors, or wait a little until third-party cases hit.
Despite nearly a dozen hardware improvements, most of them minor, evolutionary improvements, the iPad mini 4 received little to no love at Apple’s event yesterday.
Provided in the same Silver, Space Gray and Gold finishes like before, the iPad mini 4 is available now from the Apple Online Store and other outlets.
The tablet is priced at $399/$499/$599 for the 16GB/64GB/128GB Wi-Fi-only models. Wi-Fi + Cellular editions are an extra $130.