Apple unveiled a new iPad mini last week. It’s
much better than the last two iPad minis in several significant ways.
(Note: Apple discontinued last year’s iPad mini 3, but the only difference between that device and the iPad mini 2 was the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. So for all intents and purposes, we’re comparing the iPad mini 4 against both the iPad mini 2 and 3.)
Here’s how the iPad mini 4 is similar to its last two predecessors:
- Same display size with the same pixel count (7.9-inches with 2048 x 1536 pixels)
- Same FaceTime camera (1.2 megapixels)
Here’s how the iPad mini 4 differs from its last two predecessors:
- The Mini 4 is much less prone to glare: it’s fully laminated with an anti-reflective coating.
- The Mini 4 supports new multitasking functions like Split View, Slide Over, and Picture in Picture; the Mini 2 and 3 do not.
- The Mini 4 is lighter than its predecessors (0.65-0.67 pounds vs. 0.73-0.75 pounds).
- The Mini 4 has a much better rear-facing camera (8 megapixels versus 5 megapixels) with enhanced stabilisation and slo-mo video support, which were missing in the Mini 2 and 3.
- The Mini 4’s front and rear cameras can perform Burst mode, where you take several pictures at once by holding down the capture button; the Mini 2 and 3 lack this function.
- The Mini 4 is much more powerful than the Mini 2 and 3, thanks to an improved chipset. Apple’s A8 chipset in the Mini 4 is roughly 30% faster for computing tasks and 60% faster in graphics processing, which is great for playing games and streaming media.
- The Mini 4 supports a newer, more reliable, backwards-compatible Bluetooth standard. Fewer disconnects! The Mini 2 and 3 still support Bluetooth 4.0, but the Mini 4 is a bit more future-proof with Bluetooth 4.2.
- WiFi on the Mini 4 is roughly three times faster than on the Mini 2 and 3, thanks to ultrafast dual-band 802.11 ac WiFi.
- The Mini 4 supports the new Apple SIM, which lets you choose data plans from carriers in 90 countries and territories on the fly. The Mini 3 also supported the Apple SIM, but it’s discontinued; the still-available Mini 2 only supports the single nano-SIM technology.
- The Mini 2 did not have Touch ID, but the Mini 4 does (as did the Mini 3). Apple’s fingerprint sensor lets you pay within apps using your fingerprint, as well as receive and redeem rewards with your rewards cards.
Though the iPad mini 4 is clearly a step above its predecessors, an iFixit teardown reveals the tablet is almost exactly identical to the iPad Air 2 in terms of specs and functionality (both tablets can handle the new multitasking functions of iOS 9). However, the Mini 4 is $US100 cheaper than the iPad Air 2, so you’ll want to consider whether or not you want the added screen real estate in making your final purchase decision.
The iPad mini 4 starts at $US399 for 16 GB of storage and WiFi only. It ranges up to $US729 for 128 GB of storage and WiFi and cellular capabilities.
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