iPad Air 3 vs iPad mini 5: Which should you buy?

When you look at the iPad Air (2019) and iPad mini (2019), they both have very similar features on paper, with a few exceptions and the fact that one is more small and compact.

Let's break it down

Apple's latest offerings for the iPad Air (2019) and iPad mini (2019) are both pretty great, making it a little tough to decide which one is better. However, unless you absolutely prefer the smaller form factor, we think the iPad Air (2019) is the better pick.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 iPad Air (2019)iPad mini (2019)
CostFrom $499From $399
Wi-Fi OnlyYesYes
Wi-Fi + CellularYesYes
Storage capacity64GB or 256GB64GB or 256GB
Screen size10.5-inch7.9-inch
Dimensions9.8-by-6.8-by-0.24 inches8-by-5.31-by-0.24 inches
Weight1 pound0.66 pound
DisplayRetinaRetina
LaminatedYesYes
Antireflective coatingYesYes
Wide color display (P3)YesYes
True ToneYesYes
ChipA12 BionicA12 Bionic
Apple PencilFirst-generation onlyFirst-generation only
Smart ConnectorYesNo
Front-facing camera7MP7MP
Video recording1080p HD1080p HD
Rear camera8MP8MP
AudioTwo speakersTwo speakers
Face IDNoNo
Touch IDYesYes

When you view them side-by-side, the iPad Air (2019) and iPad mini (2019) are very similar.

They both feature the A12 Bionic chip (a surprise to mini fans), so they're both capable of fast processing power and can handle resource-intensive apps nicely. They also both have support for the Apple Pencil, which is a first for the mini line. However, keep in mind that they both only work with the first-generation Apple Pencil. Both of them also have True Tone, so you get great color accuracy no matter what environment you're in thanks to the ambient light sensor. There's also plenty of room for media, games, and files since they both come in 64GB and 256GB varieties.

The only real differences come down to the screen size and support for the Smart Connector.

If you prefer larger screens to display more information at once, then the iPad Air is the way to go with the 10.5-inch screen. But if you prefer the small and compact form factor of the mini, but want a capable machine that's packed with some nice features, then the iPad mini is what you need.

Don't forget that the iPad Air (2019) also has a Smart Connector, which provides power and a data connection to certain smart accessories. For example, you can use Apple's own Smart Keyboard with the iPad Air, which doesn't require batteries and can be updated through the iPad itself via the Smart Connector.

Who should buy iPad Air 3?

If you want an iPad that's packed with a lot of powerful features similar to the iPad Pro, but for a lot less, then the iPad Air (2019) is a good pick. The screen got a nifty upgrade in size, the A12 Bionic chip means faster performance, and you can now have a Smart Connector for those cool accessories like the Smart Keyboard. It even supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, giving you a comprehensive iPad experience at a mid-level price.

Who should buy iPad mini 5?

If you prefer the small and compact form factor of the mini series, then you should definitely pick up the new iPad mini (2019). It packs in a lot of the same features as the new iPad Air (2019) (sans Smart Connector) and is also $100 cheaper.

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.