iPad mini 4 image 001

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.

iPad mini 4 image 007

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?).

iPad mini 4 image 002

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.

iPad lineup

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.

Faster wireless

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.

iPad mini 4 image 003

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.

Lower-capacity battery

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.

iPad mini 4 image 005

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.

iPad mini 4 image 006

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.

iPad mini 4 Smart Cover family

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.

Summing up

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.

  • Marcinoo16

    Too many apple devices have A8 processor.

    • Jason Baroni

      As many used to have (and some are still using) the A5.

  • Christopher

    They should just kill the mini off at this point, they haven’t done much with it and seems like a joke to them, even though I love the mini, I won’t be upgrading my iPad anytime soon anyway

    • Ds

      If they killed off the iPad mini would the iPad Air become the new iPad mini because of the iPad Pro? haha I’m just kidding but I know how you feel. I love my iPad mini (when I use it) for the size/travel convenience. Since I got a iPhone 6+ my iPad mini had just been collecting dust sadly. It will be interesting to see which iPad they kill off since the release of the Pro… or if they even do kill one off.

      • the iPad mini is the best size and they should never kill it off.. I won’t upgrade it every year but i don’t want a bigger iPad.

      • Iliyan

        My thought exactly. I couldn’t care less about the larger iPads. I had an iPad 3 before and it was just too big for me. I love my iPad mini 2 and I would have loved to replace it this year (even though it still works great) for something new and exciting, but Apple hasn’t delivered there. So they’re not taking my money this year either, I’m afraid. It’s very sad that Apple is not investing much in these tablets.

      • Agreed, now if they added the 4 speakers I might have went for this new gen. Theres not much more you can add to keep everyone upgrading.

      • askep3

        Which iPhone do you have? Because I have an iPhone 6 and I want to know if it’s worth buying an iPad mini, people with iPhone 6+’s never use their mini, but does it make sense if you are an iPhone 6 user?

    • Shinonuke

      I love my iPad mini 2, but it is time for me to upgrade to the iPad mini 4. I have my iPhone to play with when I am out and about, but at home I use my iPad mini more. I’ll be sad if they kill off the iPad mini. I don’t want to go back to the 9.7″ unless I have to, like when my eyes go bad.

  • WvB22

    One mistake in your article:

    “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.”

    The iPad Air doesn’t have the same hardware as the iPad mini 4 as you are well aware. iPad Air is A7X chip, not A8. So it’s priced the same but iPad Air is less powerful and a less thin design.

    • anustart

      The iPad Air has an A7 chip. Not the A7X. The iPad Air also doesn’t have Touch ID, the same camera, or the slimness.

      • WvB22

        Yeah you’re right it’s actually the A7 chip. It was a strange call as there never was an A7X chip that year. Even stranger, benchmarks proofed that the A7 in the iPad Air was quite different then the A7 found in the iPhone 5S (which couldn’t be explained by clock speed alone). But anyway, specs of iPad Air and iPad Mini 4 are not the same as Christian is probably well aware. That’s why I said the comparison Christian made doesn’t really make sense. The line up of the iPad is pretty well done (in pricing terms).

      • iByron

        The availability of TouchID, particularly in a device that small (where it’s easily affected), does give the mini 4 a real advantage over the Air and the mini 2, in my opinion. Having used it on my Air 2 and iPhone 6, it’s actually frustrating to go back to my parents’ 1st gen mini or my work-issued iPad 2(!) and actually have to type in a code. Plus TouchID makes ApplePay very user-friendly, and it’s much more feasible on a mini than the full-sized iPads.

  • Luke Per

    Does it support 3d touch?

    • RayRayBeav

      No, it does not, the only devices that will support 3D Touch will be the iPhone 6s/6s Plus.

      • Lucus Bendzsa

        The iPad Pro should

      • T_Will

        It should, but it doesn’t. 🙁

      • Lucus Bendzsa

        I seen a finger in the video force touch to get a different color marker with a finger. I bet it does have force touch.

      • Senith Deelaka Ranchagoda

        That might be due to the size of the display..

      • RayRayBeav

        Actually, sadly the iPad Pro will not have 3d Touch… major letdown

      • Luke Per

        does that mean that ios 9 will not come with the peeking feature?

      • RayRayBeav

        The peeking feature is only available on the iPhone 6s/6s Plus

  • Himanshu Oberoi

    It is just too confusing! Apple has just messed up the iPad lineup!

  • yohemies

    This is really sad, at this point my iPad mini 1st gen is still as “good” as the newer one. I am still wanting to upgrade it because the performance of mi 1st gen is a bit bad but this is still no good reason for it.

    • Starman_Andromeda

      We have both the 1 and the 2– and the speed and the screen tuned out to be big improvements. One key area– running iPhone only apps–the 2x mode is usable on text, newspaper sites, etc. whereas it looks jaggy on the 1.

      There is no real comparison between the 1 and the 4. If we only had the 1, we would upgrade in a flash– far superior camera, much newer processor, Touch ID, faster wifi, much better screen (RD and in-cell bonding for fewer reflections, better color), etc.

      You really should give some thought the upgrade. The 2 to the 4 is a tad harder, especially at $500 price, but still viable.

      • yohemies

        Well in my case my ipad mini is my media and gaming tablet, I watch movies in it when I travel and I have lots of games, some of them don’t run well on the 1.

        So you say I should buy the 4 or maybe go for a cheaper 3?

  • T_Will

    It does seem a little confusing now, why don’t they kill the older generation and just keep the Mini 4, Air 2, and Pro?

    • smtp25

      because the older ones are the Entry/economy ones, still good but without the latest fearues.

  • iPod touch 6 has Bluetooth 4.1, and the first device to feature Bluetooth 4.2 is iPad Air 2.

  • Wolff

    A bit sad that they didnt use any time at the keynote for some mini love. Thats was actually why I was watching it… Oh well.. I’m still getting one for myself as a christmas present 🙂
    After my girlfriend introduced me to her Mini 2 i’ve must finally admit its time to replace my old ipad 3 🙂

    • raulortiz318

      Hey you always gotta treat yourself

  • Starman_Andromeda

    Nice review. Might I take issue with the description of the improvements as minor?

    The camera upgrade is a huge one. Taking photos with the Mini RD is really wonderful, but it’s the limited megapixels that can make the photos a tad grainy on the screen. Low light photography should work better, too.

    The jump to the A8 processor is major, especially for those with the iPad Mini 1, but also the 2. It helps future-proof the device, too.

    The new screen tech also represents a welcome, substantial change.

    Finally, having Touch ID is icing on the cake for those of us contemplating the jump from the Mini 1 or 2!

  • hkgsulphate

    one thing they didn’t say, the mini 4 features a display with much higher color saturation comparing to the previous generations

  • iByron

    “Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, literally spent a few seconds talking about the new mini.”

    Haha. I don’t even think it made it up to “a few” seconds of actually talking about it. He basically said the name, “iPad mini 4,” and noted that it exists.