What Is the iPad Mini?

A Look at Apple's 7.9-inch Line of Tablets

The iPad Mini refers to a line of smaller, more affordable tablets released by Apple. It was announced on Oct. 23, 2012. Designed to be operated with one hand, it offers many of the same features as the full-sized and pro-sized iPads.

The iPad Mini features a 7.9-inch display, which is slightly bigger than most 7-inch tablets. The original iPad Mini had the same 1024x768 resolution as earlier 9.7-inch iPad models, but beginning with the second-generation Mini, the smaller tablet now has the same "Retina Display" graphics as its bigger siblings. The Mini is about seven millimeters thick and weighs around .68 pounds. Here's what else you need to know about the iPad Mini line, broken down by generation.

The iPad Mini 5

Product screenshot of the iPad Mini 5 in multiple colors -- Gray, Silver, and Gold

The iPad Mini 5 is Apple's latest iteration of the popular tablet, and it's the only one currently in production. Apple released it without fanfare on March 18, 2019; it's the only iPad Mini to launch without a live press event. It features the A12 Bionic chip, 64 or 256GB of storage, True Tone display, and support for the 1st generation Apple Pencil.

The iPad Mini 4

Product screenshot of two iPad 4 Minis

Apple announced the iPad Mini 4 on Sept. 9, 2015 alongside the announcements for the iPhone 6S and the newly redesigned Apple TV. Like the iPad Mini 5, there was little fanfare to the announcement, and with good reason. The iPad Mini 4 is basically an iPad Air 2 with a smaller size. But, it was also the first iPad Mini to undergo a major redesign. It had a slightly taller and wider body, while also being thinner and lighter. Its hardware included a dual-core A8 processor and 2GB of RAM.

The iPad Mini 3

Product screenshot of the iPad Mini 3

The iPad Mini 3 was the shortest lived tablet in the line. Released a year after the iPad Mini 2, it was basically the same tablet as its predecessor with one major difference: it included Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor. This addition didn't prove to be a major difference maker with sales, so when the iPad Mini 4 came along, Apple elected to cease manufacturing the Mini 3 despite keeping the Mini 2 on the production line.

Like the iPad Mini 2, the iPad Mini 3 featured the A7 chip and 1GB of RAM. It also offered three storage options: 16, 64, or 128GB.

The iPad Mini 2

iPad mini 2 retina, características
iPad mini 2 Retina. Apple Inc.

The second iPad Mini was a major improvement over the original. Essentially a smaller iPad Air, it had more RAM, more storage options, and an upgraded A7 processor.

Released on Nov. 12, 2013, the iPad Mini 2 may seem ancient by technology standards, but it retains one major checkmark on the plus side: it's still compatible with the latest version of iOS. The iPad Mini 2 and the iPad Air were the first iPad models to use a 64-bit architecture. Apple is cut support to mobile devices using the older 32-bit architecture.

The Original iPad Mini

1st Generation iPad mini
image credit: Apple Inc.

The original iPad Mini was designed to compete with cheaper 7-inch Android tablets, and despite taking some criticism for being more expensive than the tablets it was competing against, it became a monster hit for Apple. The original Mini is basically an iPad 2 with better cameras and support for 4G LTE networks. It came with Apple's A5 chip, 512MB of RAM, and 16, 32, or 64GB of storage.

Because it uses a 32-bit system architecture, the original iPad Mini is the only tablet in the Mini line that is officially obsolete.

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