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Apple iPad Mini (5th generation)
What we like
What we don't like
Apple iPad Mini (5th generation)
Apple’s iPad lineup still sits atop the tablet kingdom more than a decade after the first device was released. Nevertheless, the iPad Mini seems to be in a strange spot. Most of the market gravitates toward the top-of-the-line iPad Pro or the cheapest standard iPad. At first glance, the iPad Mini feels like a worse buy with a higher price tag and a smaller screen.
But after a year of daily use, the iPad Mini quickly became my favorite device to use on a daily basis. Years later (and after the release of the newer 6th gen model), it still holds a special place in my heart. Find out why in Android Authority‘s iPad Mini review, and check out the best tablet deals to get yourself a heavily discounted model while you still can.
iPad Mini 5 review: What is it?
You can’t really talk about the iPad Mini without discussing its position within Apple’s iPad lineup. As mentioned above, its 7.9-inch display is smaller than the standard iPad’s 10.2-inch panel, but it adds Apple’s True Tone technology and an anti-reflective coating. It’s also more resistant, with a laminated display to prevent scratches and other damage.
The larger iPad Air and iPad Pro models are significantly more expensive. Due to their size, they don’t quite fill the same niche as the iPad Mini. That said, if you want a larger device and can spend a few hundred dollars more, the iPad Air or Pro won’t disappoint.
What drew me to the iPad Mini over the other options is its size. The first tablet I truly loved was the Nexus 7, and despite the OS change, this gave me the same experience. I wanted a smaller tablet to use for reading and occasional media consumption, and that’s exactly what I got.
The base model comes with 64GB of storage, which is adequate if a bit small for a tablet in 2023. When it was released, this was twice the size of the cheapest iPad (9th-gen), but nowadays 64GB is really the bare minimum. Personally, I don’t download much media to my tablet, so at no point was I in danger of running out of space.
The iPad Mini delivers everything you could want from a small tablet.
At first glance, the iPad Mini design looks dated with large bezels and a physical fingerprint reader/home button. More expensive models like the iPad Air and iPad Pro look much sleeker. The iPad Mini 6th gen also looks better, with smaller bezels and a fingerprint sensor in the power button. However, in this case, I often found that smaller bezels actually reduce the usability of the device. It’s nice to have some space to hold a tablet without unwanted taps, and I’m more than willing to give up a little screen real estate for it. With the newer model, I find it more difficult to read while laying down in bed, for example, and the flat metal edges make it far more slippery.
As expected, battery life is excellent. When reading or browsing the web for a few hours a night, the battery easily lasted for a week. Streaming video drained the battery a bit faster, but you can expect to meet or exceed Apple’s promised 10-hour battery life.
In terms of actually using the device, iPadOS has come a long way in recent years. It now has multitasking tools, mouse-and-keyboard support, widgets, and a host of other features that make it a breeze to use.
What’s not so good?
It’s hard to find many negatives with the Apple iPad Mini 5, especially considering the lack of competition in the space. The only real drawback is that it’s only compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil, which has an awkward charging method. It plugs into the bottom of the tablet and sticks straight out. This both looks ridiculous and renders the tablet virtually unusable.
Apart from that, the dated design may turn away some consumers. Sure, Apple could have slightly reduced the bezel sizes. It also could have switched to the more ubiquitous USB-C charging standard. Still, neither of these should be dealbreakers for those looking for a small tablet.
If they are dealbreakers, both have been remedied in the newer version of the device. It’s more expensive, but if you do any kind of digital art, it’s worth it for the Apple Pencil 2 compatibility alone.
iPad Mini 5 review: Should I buy it?
If you want a small tablet, the iPad Mini 5 is still a great option in 2023, provided you can actually find one. That said, the iPad Mini 6 ($489.99 at Amazon) is a significant improvement in most regards. It’s less comfortable to hold, but it’s more powerful, has more features, and sports a larger screen than its predecessor. That said, the software experience is every bit as great on the older model, and if you can find a good deal, it could still be a better buy.
The iPad Mini is still a great tablet, all these years later.
For consumers that just want a good tablet and don’t mind a larger size, the standard iPad ($413 at Amazon) offers incredible value. The iPad Air $559 at Amazon and iPad Pro ($786 at Amazon) are more expensive, but they’re both among the best tablets money can buy. There’s also a small selection of good Android tablets for those who want to avoid Apple’s ecosystem, but none can truly match Apple’s offerings in terms of performance.