Should You Buy an iPad Mini 4?

Is Apple's Newest 7-Inch Tablet Worth It?

iPad mini 4
Apple

The iPad now comes in multiple sizes including a whopping 12.9-inch "iPad Pro", so it is no wonder why it is getting harder and harder to decide which iPad model is the best to buy. But in tablets, size doesn't always matter. And sometimes, smaller can be better, especially when it comes to a smaller price tag. So instead of shopping for the iPad Pro or looking at the 9.7-inch entry-level iPad, should you just buy an iPad Mini 4?

The iPad Mini 4 was released in 2015 at the same time as the iPad Air 2. It represented a considerable upgrade over the iPad Mini 3 and remains in Apple's lineup, so you can purchase a brand new iPad Mini 4 directly from Apple or at your local electronics retailer. The iPad Mini 4 is available in two models: Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with 4G LTE data connectivity.

What We Like About the iPad Mini 4

Surprisingly, the iPad Mini 4 isn't the cheapest iPad available from Apple. But it does have its perks and many people prefer it over the larger 9.7-inch iPad or the much more expensive iPad Pro models.

iOS 8 on the iPad mini
The iPad Mini 4 supports the latest version of the iOS operating system, so its features keep getting better. Apple, Inc.
  • The smaller form factor is easier to transport, making it perfect for fitting into an already-full suitcase and a good fit for larger handbags.
  • The iPad Mini 4 supports Touch ID for both better security and some of the ease-of-use features provided by Touch ID.
  • The Mini 4 is an iPad Air 2 with a smaller form factor. The iPad Air 2 was definitely one of the best iPad models and included a strong camera (8 MP back-facing, 720p front-facing) and 2 GB of memory for applications.
  • The iPad Mini's 7.9-inch screen is larger than the standard 7-inch display on Android tablets in this size, which ends up providing about 35% more usable space on the display.
  • It supports the great multitasking features of the iPad.

What We Don't Like About the iPad Mini 4

Unfortunately, there is more to dislike about the Mini 4 than there is to like, which makes this iPad model a hard sell.

A woman with an external monitor connected to her iPad
One great feature of the 2018 iPad Pro models is the ability to hook up an external monitor using USB-C. Apple 
  • The iPad Mini 4 hasn't been refreshed since 2015, which means it will run slower than the 9.7-inch iPad currently for sale.
  • The iPad Mini 4 is also more expensive than the cheaper 9.7-inch iPad. The slower processor might be a non-issue if you received some savings, but Apple forces buyers into the 128 GB storage solution. This is great if you need the extra storage, but if you don't, you are paying more for an older tablet.
  • It doesn't support the Apple Pencil. This won't be a big deal for those not planning to use a stylus, but if you love to draw, the Apple Pencil is perhaps the best stylus available.
  • It doesn't support USB-C. One of the coolest features of the newest iPad Pro models is support for USB-C rather than Apple's proprietary Lightning connector. But to be fair, the 9.7-inch iPad model doesn't support USB-C either.

Should You Buy an iPad Mini 4?

If you are thinking about upgrading your iPad or buying your first tablet, the 9.7-inch iPad is a better buy than the iPad Mini 4. Not only does it have a faster processor and a bigger screen, it also has a smaller price tag. This is significant when you factor in the longer lifespan the 9.7-inch model will enjoy before becoming obsolete.

However, it is not all bad for the iPad Mini 4. If you need the extra boost in storage from 32 GB to 128 GB, the iPad Mini 4 becomes cheaper than its bigger brother. And many people really prefer the smaller form factor of the 7.9-inch Mini compared to the larger tablets that are taking over the market. And if you aren't opposed to buying used or refurbished, you may be able to buy a cheap iPad Mini 4 rather than pay full price.