iPad mini 5: Everything you need to know

Before March 18, if you would have asked me whether you should get an iPad mini, the answer would have been a resounding "no." Today, however, my tune has changed. Though the "baby pro" (as my former colleague Serenity Caldwell likes to call it) looks the same on the outside, it's what's on the inside that counts, and these insides are much improved.

What's new with the iPad mini?

As of March 18, Apple has updated and improved the nearly-forgotten iPad mini with loads of spec upgrades and Apple Pencil support. Though the insides are better than ever, the chassis design remains relatively the same.

The iPad mini chassis isn't exactly the same as its predecessor, however. The dual microphone on version 5 is located at the middle-top. In version 4, the microphone was located next to the rear-facing camera.

So it's got a faster chip?

It sure does. The iPad mini 4 was still lugging around an A8 processor chip with an M8 motion coprocessor. In 2015, that wasn't such a bad deal. But in 2019 with more resource intensive apps, more media streaming, and better games available for iOS, it's a marked improvement to have the iPad mini 5 upgraded to the A12 Bionic chipset and M12 coprocessor. The iPad mini 5 also has a neural engine, which is the architecture that helps the software run faster and smarter.

What about the camera?

The rear-facing camera on the iPad mini 5 did not get a significant upgrade. You can now take Live Photos, but that's about it. Same with video recording. You get the same 1080p resolution and 120 frames-per-second (fps) slo-mo.

The front-facing camera (AKA FaceTime HD camera) did, however, get a serious spec jump. It went from 1.2-megapixels for photos to 7-megapixels. It also records video at 1080p with 30 fps.

What's this about Apple Pencil support?

As of March 2019, all new iPad models now work with Apple Pencil. The iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Air work with the first-generation Apple Pencil, while the iPad Pro (11 and 12.9-inch) work with the second-generation Apple Pencil.

Is the display better?

In terms of screen resolution, no. The iPad mini 5 still has a 2048 x 1536 resolution display at 326 pixels per inch (ppi).

That being said, the display did get a few new features, like DCI-P3 wide gamut color and True Tone.

P3 is what makes reds brighter and blacks more pure black.

True Tone slightly adjusts the brightness and hue of the screen, depending on the ambient lighting around you. I, personally, love True Tone displays. They make my eyes feel so much better when I'm reading on my iPad.

What options does it have?

Like its predecessor, the iPad mini 5 comes three colors:

  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Space Gray

You can stick with the standard Wi-Fi model or upgrade to Wi-Fi + cellular.

It only comes in two storage sizes:

  • 64
  • 256

So does my old iPad mini case fit the new iPad mini

It does! The dimensions are exactly the same. The screen size, the bezels, the placement of the Home button; all the same. The only difference is that the dual microphone is located at the center-top on the iPad mini 5, whereas it is located near the rear-facing camera on the iPad mini 4.

How much does the iPad mini 5 cost?

  • 64GB Wi-Fi only: $399
  • 64GB Wi-Fi + Cellular: $529
  • 256GB Wi-Fi only: $549
  • 256GB Wi-Fi + Cellular: $679

Of course, you can add Apple care for $69 more (or $3.49 per month for two years).

When can I buy one?

Right now! Shipping starts May 26.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).