New inside and out
The latest update to the iPad mini brings it into the modern Apple tablet era with an all-new design, edge-to-edge display, huge power boost, and USB-C connectivity. All these new features come at a cost, though, as the iPad mini 6 starting price is $100 higher than the iPad mini 5's was. Plus, you'll need to fork out for new accessories.
- Modern design
- Edge-to-edge display
- Significant internal upgrade
- Improved cameras
- Gorgeous colors
- 5G on cellular models
- Price hike
- Requires new accessories
Those that like the look of Apple's iPads of old may want to stick with the iPad mini 5 for its familiar feel and easy-access Home button. That being said, the improvements in the 2021 model are well worth the upgrade if you're going from an older device and can stomach the cost.
- Familiar design
- More affordable
- Old-style design
- Ageing processor
- Smaller display
- First-gen Apple Pencil support
Apple's iPad mini 6 sits comfortably in Apple's lineup alongside the other best iPad models it offers, thanks to its design overhaul and internal spec bumps. It's better than the iPad mini 5 in pretty much every regard, though it is considerably more expensive. So, it won't be for everyone.
iPad mini 6 vs. iPad mini 5: Key Differences
Since the iPad mini 6 has had such a significant upgrade inside and out, there are many differences between it and the previous-gen model. Just a couple of spec list items remaining the same. Here are some tech specs for comparison:
|Header Cell - Column 0||iPad mini (6th generation)||iPad mini (5th generation)|
|Display size||8.3 inches||7.9 inches|
|Display resolution||2266‑by‑1488 resolution at 326 PPI||2048‑by‑1536 resolution at 326 PPI|
|Processor||A15 Bionic||A12 Bionic|
|Camera||12MP Wide rear camera with True Tone flash|
12MP Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage
|8MP Wide rear camera|
7MP FaceTime HD front camera
|Battery life||Up to 10 hours||Up to 10 hours|
|Apple Pencil||Second generation||First generation|
|Touch ID||Top button||Home button|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, and 5G||Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, and LTE|
|Dimensions||7.69 inches x 5.3 inches x 0.25 inch||8 inches x 5.3 inches x 0.24 inch|
|Weight||0.65 pound||0.66 pound|
|Price||From $499||From $399|
From looking at the specs and the new design, it's clear that the iPad mini 6 is technically more advanced than any iPad mini that came before it. Often, the generation-to-generation changes aren't super pronounced with Apple products, so you can skip every other upgrade in the product cycle. That's not the case going from the iPad mini 5 to the iPad mini 6, as the differences are night and day.
iPad mini 6 vs. iPad mini 5: All the new things
By virtually every measure, you are getting a better product in the iPad mini 6. It has gained a slightly larger, edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display without making the overall footprint bigger or the battery life worse. iPad mini 6 also runs a chip that is 40% faster in terms of CPU and 80% more performant in terms of GPU. Also, it has some significant camera updates on both sides of the device. It even gains Apple Pencil 2 support, USB-C, and 5G connectivity on the cellular-enabled models.
All of those updates are packed into a form factor that looks like a miniature iPad Air meaning the iPad mini now looks like a modern device in Apple's product lineup.
The only metric by which it compares unfavorably is price. The iPad mini 6 starts at $499 — up $100 compared to the starting price of the iPad mini 5 when it launched. The redesign also means existing iPad mini accessories are no good.
iPad mini 6 vs. iPad mini 5: Should you upgrade?
This is the biggest upgrade we've seen in the iPad mini lineup in years — ever, even. The A15 Bionic chip provides a huge performance boost, and taking the display edge to edge has allowed for more screen real estate without increasing the device's overall footprint. That's in addition to camera upgrades, features like USB-C and 5G, and a redesign that brings the small tablet into the modern era.
Unlike a lot of Apple releases, the iPad mini 6 represents a huge improvement over its direct predecessor. This is not an incremental change. That means anyone rocking an older iPad mini should feel confident in upgrading to the latest model.
The only reasons anyone should snag the iPad mini 5 right now are if you don't want to spend the extra money to get the 2021 model, desperately want to keep hold of your existing iPad mini accessories, or are just way more familiar with the Home button-style design. If you can afford the new model, get it, and you won't be disappointed.
The biggest update to iPad mini ever.
This is the biggest update we've seen to the iPad mini lineup in years. With an all-new design, larger display, powerful A15 Bionic chip, USB-C, and more, it's a total powerhouse that you can pop in your pocket. Pre-orders are live now, with devices shipping from September 24.
On the way out
Only buy if you can score a deal
iPad mini 5 may have come out in 2019, but it was a minor bump then, and its specs are long in the tooth in 2021. It's now discontinued, so it's only recommended to buy one if price is your number one priority and you can get a good deal on one.
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Adam Oram is a Senior Writer at iMore. He studied Media at Newcastle University and has been writing about technology since 2013. He previously worked as an Apple Genius and as a Deals Editor at Thrifter. His spare time is spent watching football (both kinds), playing Pokémon games, and eating vegan food. Follow him on Twitter at @adamoram.