Apple recently introduced the fifth-generation iPad Air, which features an M1 chip, 5G connectivity, and an advanced front-facing camera system. Last year, Apple introduced the sixth-generation iPad mini, introducing an iPad Air-style redesign with a larger display, A15 Bionic chip, and more.
The iPad Mini now effectively shares the design of the iPad Air, with both devices having many similar features such as an all-screen design with a Home button, Touch ID and stereo speakers in the top power button. Now taking center stage and with 5G connectivity, the iPad Air is now largely available alongside the iPad mini. There are still some important differences between the devices, such as their chips, that continue to differentiate the devices.
Should you buy the more expensive, larger iPad Air, or choose the more affordable, smaller iPad mini? Our guide answers the question of how to decide which of these two iPads is best for you.
Comparing the iPad Mini and iPad Air
The iPad Mini and iPad Air share a number of key features, such as design, a rear 12MP wide camera, and a USB-C port:
- All-screen industrial design with flat edges
- Touch ID scanner is built into the top button
- Liquid Retina Display with P3 Wide Color, Fingerprint Resistant Coating, 500 nits Max Brightness, Full Lamination, Anti-Reflective Coating and True Tone
- 12MP /1.8 Wide Rear Camera 5x Digital Zoom and Smart HDR 3 . with
- 4K video recording at up to 60fps with 3x video zoom, 1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 1080p slo-mo video at 30 fps or 60 fps, and time-lapse with stabilization
- 12MP /2.4 front-facing ultra-wide camera with 2x zoom out, center stage, retina flash, smart HDR 3, cinematic video stabilization and 1080p video recording
- Second Generation Apple Pencil Compatibility
- Up to 10 hours of battery life
- USB-C port
- two speaker audio landscape mode
- Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- Sub-6GHz 5G Connectivity
- Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular Models
- 64GB and 256GB storage options
- Available in Space Grey, Pink, Purple and Starlight
Apple’s breakdown of specifications shows that the two iPads share many of their most important features. Still, there are meaningful differences between the iPad mini and iPad Air that are worth highlighting, including their A-series chips, front-facing cameras, keyboard compatibility, and more.
- 8.3-inch display with 2266‑by1488 resolution at 326 ppi
- Small, compact design for maximum portability
- A15 Bionic chip with 4GB of memory
- Rear Quad-LED True Tone Flash
- Compatible with bluetooth keyboard only
- Weighs up to 0.66 pounds (297 grams)
- 10.9-inch display with 2360‑by1640 resolution at 264 ppi
- Larger design that’s better for productivity
- M1 chip with 8GB of memory
- Smart Connector for external keyboards, including Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
- Weighs up to 1.01 lb (462 g)
- Available with additional blue color option
Overall, the iPad Air is the best all-around option for most users, offering a large screen for productivity and consumption of entertainment in a slim, portable design. The extra $100 required to buy an iPad Air over an iPad mini is more than justified for the benefits that come with a larger display, not least the ability to practically use it as a laptop replacement.
Still, most customers who buy the iPad mini will buy it because of its screen size, not in spite of it. The iPad Mini is ideal for leisurely reading books, playing handheld games, and unobtrusive storage.
People who buy an iPad mini will have a specific use case in mind for how they will use the device, such as taking notes on the go, throwing in a small bag to use on public transportation, or in a large pocket. To use while working sliding.
If you don’t see the iPad mini’s smaller display, easy one-hand grip, light weight and portable form factor as an active advantage and focus on the more versatile larger display, you’ll likely like the iPad Air. If you want an all-around device that works as a potential laptop replacement, with the added bonus of coming with a bigger screen for productivity and entertainment, the iPad Air would be the better choice for you.