A teardown analysis of the new iPad mini performed by iFixit has found some expected features, such as Apple’s newest A12 Bionic chip paired with three gigabytes of RAM, along with some surprises like True Tone sensors and a different type of battery connector.

On the outside, Apple’s smallest fifth-generation tablet looks like a downsized version of the new iPad Air, save for a few tiny design changes and a brand-new model number A2133.

The new iPad mini and the new iPad Air. Can you tell which is which?

According to iFixit, the new tablet is not quite a shrunken down iPad, nor a miniature iPad Air.

After three and a half years without a refresh, iPad mini has awoken from its slumber with some updated internals. Despite appearances, our teardown confirms that this is not just a shrunken-down version of the new iPad Air—it’s a reworked iPad mini 4, with some fresh silicon for 2019.

The iPad mini 5 has the same 7.9-inch LED-backlit Retina screen with a 2,048-by-1,536 pixel resolution like its predecessor. And like iPad mini 4, the new one files as Apple’s sharpest tablet screen at 326 pixels per inch (other iPads have a pixel density of 246 pixels per inch).

This time around, the mini has True Tone technology that uses upgrade ambient light sensors to continuously match the display’s color temperature to the current lighting conditions. While the tablet rocks the same battery capacity like its predecessor at 19.1 watt-hours, it’s much easier to service now because Apple is using a new battery connector design.

Though incompatible with the previous version, the new connector auto-disconnects before you can unplug the display, a design solution that iFixit says should make the dreaded blown backlight a thing of the past. On the downside, the glued-in battery is difficult to replace, prompting iFixit to wonder if we’ll ever see adhesive pull tabs for iPad batteries.

Here’s an overview of all the other changes worth mentioning:

  • The new iPad mini is powered by Apple’s newest A12 Bionic chip with three gigabytes of RAM, up from two gigabytes of RAM in the previous model.
  • The new mini works with the first-generation Apple Pencil.
  • The relocated microphones are now centered near the camera.
  • The eight-megapixel rear camera is virtually unchanged.
  • The selfie camera saw a major upgrade from the old 1.2-megapixel sensor to a seven-megapixel ƒ/2.2 one. This is the camera that first appeared in the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. If you liked it on the 10.5-incher, you probably won’t have any complaints.
  • Bluetooth has been upgraded to the latest Bluetooth 5.0 protocol which doubles the speed while quadrupling the range. This is important because the second-generation AirPods [iFixit teardown] also use Bluetooth 5 for faster switching between devices and improved connection reliability (to enjoy these AirPods improvements, you must pair them with a device that supports Bluetooth 5, like the new iPad mini).
  • Other networking improvements include Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Gigabit class LTE on cellular models and eSIM technology.
  • Like with iPhones, the regulatory markings are no longer printed on the back because they’re now available within the About section in the Settings app.
  • Yes, it’s got the headphone jack.

While the battery can be replaced a tad more easily than before, many other parts are difficult to service due to copious amount of glue that holds everything together.

Furthermore, the Lightning port is soldered to the logic board while removing the Home button is still required for display replacement in order to keep Touch ID functionality.

Removing the Home button is tough because it’s still a mess of glue

Because of all that, the new iPad mini 5 has earned a repairability score of two out of ten. iFixit should publish its teardown analysis of the new third-generation iPad Air tomorrow.

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