Should you buy an iPad mini 4 in 2021?

iPad mini
iPad mini (Image credit: iMore)

Should you buy an iPad mini 4 in 2021?

Best Answer: No. While you can still find the iPad mini 4 refurbished or renewed at some retailers for a low price, you are still much better off spending the extra money for the newer iPad mini 5. The iPad mini 5 has faster processing power with the A12 chip versus the A8 in the iPad mini 4. It also has a better display, support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, and a 7MP front-camera instead of the 1.2MP in the previous iteration. You can also get up to 256GB of storage with the iPad mini 5, instead of just 128GB with iPad mini 4.

You get more bang for your buck with iPad mini 5

iPad Mini

iPad Mini (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

When you ask yourself, "Should I buy an iPad mini 4?" the correct answer is just to avoid it now — it's six years old at this point. The iPad mini 5 looks identical to the iPad mini 4; the latest generation of the mini is so much more capable, making it worth the slightly extra cost. The iPad mini 5 is just about $100 more than a renewed iPad mini 4 from Amazon, and all of the capabilities that it offers make it well worth the cost.

First, the A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine and embedded M12 coprocessor gives the iPad mini 5 a huge advantage in terms of speed and processing power. You'll be able to do things faster and experience less downtime and lag when gaming. And while there isn't much in terms of physical differences between the two, the iPad mini 5 does have 500 nits of brightness (versus 400 nits with the previous-gen), Wide Color display, and True Tone support, which gives you better overall screen quality. You also get a 7-megapixel front-facing camera instead of a paltry 1.2MP, so your FaceTime calls are sharper and clearer than ever before.

iPad mini vs iPhone XS Max

iPad mini vs iPhone XS Max (Image credit: iMore)

The real draw of the iPad mini 5 over its predecessor is that it has support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, making it the first iPad mini to do so. Even though the first-generation Apple Pencil doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of the latest iteration, it still has pixel-perfect precision for drawing and writing notes — it even comes with full tilt and pressure sensitivity, which you won't find in a lot of third-party Apple Pencil alternatives. The Apple Pencil connects, charges, and pairs via the Lightning port, and has zero lag in use. So if you've always wanted to use an Apple Pencil for taking notes or drawing with an iPad mini, then the 5th generation iPad mini is definitely worth the extra money.

Unfortunately, while the iPad mini 5 is essentially just a smaller version of the 7th-generation iPad, it lacks the Smart Connector that the regular iPad has. So, you can only use the best Bluetooth keyboards with the iPad mini 5 instead of the Apple Smart Keyboard.

You should also consider a new 8th-generation iPad (2020) instead

iPad (2020)

iPad (2020) (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz /iMore)

Of course, the iPad mini 5 came out in 2019, and it has gone about two years without an update so far. If you absolutely need the 7.9-inch screen of the iPad mini, then, by all means, get it. But if you can live with a slightly larger screen, then we would recommend the latest 8th-generation iPad (2020) that recently came out. This is a great entry-level iPad that is also very affordable at $329, which is even less than a two-year-old iPad mini 5.

Not only does the iPad have a 10.2-inch display with Home button, but it also has the same A12 Bionic chip, first-generation Apple Pencil support, and 8MP camera of the iPad mini 5. The front-facing camera is only 1.2MP though, and the max storage caps out at 128GB. However, it does have one leg up on the iPad mini 5, and that's the Smart Connector — this means you would be able to use accessories like the Apple Smart Keyboard rather than just using a Bluetooth keyboard.

So when you ask, "Should I buy an iPad mini 4?" just think about it — the device came out six years ago, and it would be very outdated at this point. If you need the small 7.9-inch screen, get the iPad mini 5, but if you want a great entry-level iPad with a few extra features, then think about the 8th-generation iPad.

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.