How Much Does an iPad mini Cost?

Pricing guide and information

A wad of money.
Image by Andrew Magill.

The original iPad mini was introduced in late 2012 with the intention of competing with other 7-inch tablets and providing an entry-level iPad in the lineup. It did extremely well, with some analysts wondering if it took too big a bite out of the full-sized iPad's sales. Apple subsequently released an iPad mini 2 alongside the iPad Air and an iPad mini 4 alongside the iPad Air 2. The iPad mini 4 is currently the last 7.9-inch tablet released by Apple.

The newest iPad mini is the 4th generation "iPad mini 4." It costs $399 for the Wi-Fi model with 128 GB of storage and $512 for the model with 4G LTE.

The Mini differentiates itself from other 7-inch tablets by coming in at 7.9 inches when measured diagonally. This gives the iPad mini a sizable chunk of extra real estate and translates to a tablet that doesn't seem too small. Similar to its bigger brother, the iPad mini uses a 4:3 content ratio rather than the 16:9 seen on many Android tablets. The 4:3 ratio is generally better when consuming content on websites and for apps, while the 16:9 ratio excels with video.

The Original iPad mini

The original iPad mini is no longer for sale and is technically obsolete. Apple stopped supporting the original Mini with the release of iOS 10. However, many people still find the original Mini to be quite functional, with the added features of iOS 10 easy to live without.

Would-be buyers can still find a used iPad mini on person-to-person websites like eBay or Craigslist. However, due to its obsolete status and the impending release of a new operating system update by Apple, the iPad mini may not be worth the price. In addition to dropping support for the operating system, Apple may soon drop support for app updates for tablets still using the older 32-bit architecture, which includes the original Mini. 

The iPad mini 2

The original iPad mini was based on the iPad 2, which was Apple's second-generation iPad. The iPad mini 2 may not have sold as many units, but it was quite a beast compared to the original. The iPad mini 2 was based on the iPad Air's chipset, which was Apple's fifth-generation iPad. That three years of technological difference packs a huge punch, with a processor that is more than three times the speed, with more RAM memory for applications, and the ability to use some of the new multitasking features.

The iPad mini 2 is no longer for sale on the Apple website. However, some can still occasionally be found on the refurbished section of the Apple store. iPads refurbished by Apple still have the same one-year warranty as a new unit. Buying refurbished is one of the best ways to get a cheaper iPad for this reason.

The Mini 2 is based on the iPad Air's chipset and is every bit as powerful as the Air. This means it can do slide-over multitasking, which lets you run a second app in a column on the screen. 

The iPad mini 3

Apple's third-generation iPad mini was short-lived. In fact, for a time, Apple sold the iPad mini 4 and the iPad mini 2 without an iPad mini 3 for sale. This is due to the changes between the iPad mini 2 and the iPad mini 3, or more accurately, the lack thereof. The only major difference between the second-generation Mini and the third is the inclusion of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor technology. And while Touch ID can do a lot beyond just Apple Pay, it wasn't deemed an important enough feature by consumers to warrant a price jump.

The iPad mini 4 

Apple discontinued the iPad mini 3 when the Mini 4 was released, and despite being several years old, the iPad mini 4 is still the most recent 7.9-inch tablet released by Apple. The iPad mini 4 is essentially an iPad Air 2 with a smaller design, so while it is not quite as fast as the new iPad Pro models, it's still one of the fastest tablets on the market. It is also fully compatible with all of the newest features on the iPad, including split-view multitasking and picture-in-a-picture multitasking.  

The iPad mini 4 starts at $399 and comes with 128 GB of storage space, which makes it $30 cheaper than a similarly equipped 9.7-inch iPad. However, you can buy the larger iPad in a 32 GB model for less than the entry-level Mini 4. You can also get the cellular version of the iPad mini 4 if you need a data connection outside of the home or office.

Will Apple Ever Release a New iPad mini?

The iPad mini 4 was released in the fall of 2015, which leads many to wonder whether Apple has given up on the 7.9-inch tablet size. As our smartphones keep getting bigger, the difference between the largest screen sizes for a smartphone and the smallest for a tablet becomes slighter.

Apple's "5th-generation iPad" is an update to the iPad Air 2 and is priced slightly under the cheapest iPad mini 4 available, making it the new entry-level tablet for Apple. So what place does the Mini have in Apple's lineup?

Despite being precariously placed between the new entry-level iPad and a range of iPad Pro models aimed directly at enterprise, some people still prefer the smaller form factor. This leads to some hope that Apple will release a new iPad mini in the future, but based on the not-so-great sales of the iPad mini 2 and the iPad mini 4, people shouldn't hold their breath.