What is the iPad Mini?

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

The iPad Mini 2

The iPad Mini refers to a line of smaller, more affordable tablets released by Apple. The original iPad Mini was announced on October 23rd, 2012. Designed to be operated with one hand, the iPad Mini 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 has the same "Retina Display" graphics as its bigger brother. The Mini is about 7 millimeters thick and weighs around .68 pounds. 

The iPad Mini 4

There is only one iPad Mini model in production: The iPad Mini 4. Surprisingly, this tablet is actually more expensive than the current 9.7-inch iPad ($399 vs $329), but this is partially do to coming with 128 GB of storage rather than just 32 GB.

Apple announced the original iPad Mini 4 on September 9, 2015 alongside the announcements for the iPhone 6S and the newly redesigned Apple TV.  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.  

This is a good thing. The most iPad Air 2 set a new standard for the iPad, which is why it took Apple over two years to produce a true upgrade to it. The iPad Mini 4 may be the only Mini you can buy brand new, but it is still worth checking out the used and refurbished iPad market for the best deal on it.

The iPad Mini 3

The iPad Mini was the shortest lived iPad. 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.

The iPad Mini 2

The second iPad Mini was a major improvement over the original.  While the first Mini shared the same processor and graphics capability as the iPad 2, its direct successor was essentially a smaller iPad Air.  This made it over four times more powerful than the tablet it replaced.

Released on November 12, 2013, the iPad Mini 2 may seem ancient by technology standards, but it retains one major checkmark on the plus side: it is still compatible with the latest version of iOS. The iPad Mini 2 and the iPad Air were the first iPad models using a 64-bit architecture, which is significant because Apple is cutting support to mobile devices using the older 32-bit architecture. This means the iPad Mini 2 may have some life left in it.

The Original iPad Mini

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.

The original iPad Mini is the only iPad in the Mini line that is officially obsolete.