The affordable iPad (2020) offers a lot of bang for the buck with an A12 Bionic chip, Smart Connector, and a large 10.2-inch screen. It doesn't have the latest display technology like the iPad mini 5, but it makes up for it with support for Apple's Smart Keyboard and the first-generation Apple Pencil. Great for media consumption, note-taking, and word processing, the base iPad is the best iPad for most.
- More affordable
- Larger 10.2-inch screen
- A12 Bionic chip
- Has Smart Connector
- Works with Apple Pencil
- Works with Smart Keyboard
- Screen not laminated
- Does not support True Tone
- 32GB in base model
- Measly 1.2MP FaceTime camera
Apple's iPad mini 5 is beloved for its incredibly light and compact design, but it is also no slouch when it comes to performance. With an A12 Bionic chip, 64GB of base storage, a laminated display with True Tone, and support for the Apple Pencil, the iPad mini 5 is suitable for pretty much anything you can throw at it. However, its portability does make it more expensive.
- Smaller and lighter
- Laminated display
- Supports True Tone
- Works with Apple Pencil
- Starts at 64GB storage
- A12 Bionic chip
- More expensive
- Doesn't have Smart Connector
- Only works with Bluetooth Keyboards
Apple's iPad lineup is worth buying at any price, but it is also will sometimes go on sale on Black Friday. Check out this year's Black Friday iPad deals going on now!
While one would think that the iPad mini 5 is just a slimmed-down version of the base iPad, that isn't the case here. Sure, they both have the same A12 processor inside, both run iPadOS 14, and have the same all-day battery life, but that is where things end. Price, display quality, and compatibility with accessories are huge differences, and even though the mini 5 tops the base iPad in one of those categories, we believe that the iPad (2020) is the best iPad for most.
iPad (2020) vs iPad mini 5: What are the differences?
Both iPads, while the most recent models, were introduced more than a year apart. The iPad mini 5 made its debut in early 2019, while the iPad (2020) just hit the market in September of 2020. Despite the lengthy time in-between releases, both iPads share the same A12 Bionic chip that is plenty capable for apps and gaming today with two-efficiency cores and four GPU cores. The inclusion of the A12 in the latest base iPad shows that Apple is confident that it will be enough for years to come.
Before we jump into the deeper stuff, let's step back and take a look at an obvious, but important spec: size. The iPad mini 5 truly lives up to its name here, with Apple's smaller tablet weighing around almost half of the weight as the larger 10.2-inch iPad at 0.66 pounds, and it is almost two-inches shorter and wider than the base iPad.
The smaller size and weight enable the mini 5 to work one-handed in portrait-orientation, just like a phone, and it shines for reading books. By contrast, iPad (2020) is meant more for two-handed use in a landscape position, and its weight may cause some strain on your wrist if you try to use it one-handed for extended periods.
The iPad (2020) has a larger 10.2-inch Retina display that puts more content on-screen when web browsing over the mini and the bigger size helps with Split-View, which puts two apps side-by-side. The iPad mini 5 supports Split-View, but running two apps next to each other on the 7.9-inch is really cramped, making it hard to take notes or pick out text.
With the physical dimensions out of the way, let's dive into the tech specs, as they add more to the story when it comes to the displays.
|Header Cell - Column 0||iPad (2020)||iPad mini 5|
|Cost||From $329 and up||From $399 and up|
|Wi-Fi + Cellular||Yes||Yes|
|Dimensions||9.8-by-6.8-by-0.29 inches||8.0-by-5.3-by-0.24 inches|
|Weight||1.08 pounds||0.66 pounds|
|Storage||32GB or 128GB||64GB or 256GB|
|Resolution||2160-by-1620 at 264 ppi||2048‑by‑1536 resolution at 326 ppi|
|Brightness||500 nits typical||500 nits typical|
|Chip||A12 Bionic||A12 Bionic|
|Apple Pencil||First-generation only||First-generation only|
|Audio||Two speakers||Two speakers|
|Battery||10 hours Wi-Fi, 9 hours cellular||10 hours Wi-Fi, 9 hours cellular|
As you can see, the older iPad mini 5 sports a higher-quality display than the base iPad (2020). The iPad mini 5's display is laminated, putting content closer to the glass and removing the noticeable air-gap as seen on the iPad (2020). The display on the mini 5 also supports P3 wide color, and it has a higher pixel density at 326ppi, versus 264ppi, which makes text crisper and colors more vibrant. If that weren't enough, the mini has an anti-reflective coating, which helps when using the iPad outdoors.
The specs also show that both iPads are compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil, but as you would expect, each iPad has its advantage here. The iPad mini 5 is great for taking quick notes as it can be held with one-hand, but the iPad (2020) is better for drawing with its larger canvas. The larger screen sizes are also better when using the aforementioned Split-View, which gives it the edge for us.
Sticking with accessories, the iPad (2020) is compatible with Apple's Smart Keyboard, while the iPad mini 5 is only compatible with Bluetooth keyboards. The difference is due to the inclusion of Apple's Smart Connector on the side of the larger iPad, which supplies power and transfers data to and from the Smart Keyboard. The Smart Keyboard also acts as a cover for the iPad (2020), and the Smart Connector also works with third-party accessories to charge the iPad wirelessly.
Other differences between the iPads are related to the camera systems and storage. For cameras, Apple decided to hang on to the outdated 1.2MP FaceTime camera on the iPad (2020), which obviously, looks pretty bad. On the older iPad mini 5, Apple includes a 7MP front-facing camera, making it better for video calls and selfies, although neither cameras are truly great. The back cameras on both iPads are 8MP, with no real major differences there, and again, both are good enough, but not great. For storage, the iPad mini 5 starts at 64GB and maxes out at 256GB versus the paltry 32GB and 128GB on the iPad (2020).
iPad (2020) vs. iPad mini 5: Who should buy the iPad (2020)?
If you are in the market for an affordable tablet that can pretty much do it all, then the iPad (2020) is the one for you. Apple's entry-level iPad has plenty of power to run the latest apps and games, and the A12 Bionic chip should keep it humming for years to come.
The iPad (2020) supports the first-generation Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard, which instantly turns it into a viable laptop replacement, especially for students. Of course, the larger 10.2-inch display also makes it great for binge-watching, and web browsing, so it is the best iPad for most.
iPad (2020) vs. iPad mini 5: Who should buy the iPad mini 5?
If you want a tablet that is light, and comfortable to hold in one hand for hours on end while reading your favorite book, the iPad mini 5 is it. The mini sports an easy to read, 7.9-inch laminated display with support for True Tone that keeps it looking great regardless of the lighting in the room.
The iPad mini 5 also packs in the same A12 Bionic chip as the base iPad (2020), so it is plenty capable enough for today's apps, games, and web browsing. All of the portable power does make it more expensive though, but in some cases, smaller is worth it.
The best for most
The latest iPad is one of the best values around with its A12 Bionic CPU, a large 10.2-inch screen, and support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. If you want a great all-around tablet that can also become a productivity machine if needed, then get the iPad (2020).
Portable and powerful
Apple's iPad mini 5 is simply the best choice for those that value portability over everything else. Don't let its small size fool you though, it packs plenty of power with an A12 Bionic chip, and it has a fantastic display that bests its larger sibling.
Master your iPhone in minutes
iMore offers spot-on advice and guidance from our team of experts, with decades of Apple device experience to lean on. Learn more with iMore!
Christopher spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit and the Home app. Whether it is installing smart light switches, testing the latest door locks, or automating his households daily routines, Christopher has done it all.