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iPad vs iPad Mini: Two great devices with very different footprints

Do you need a bigger screen, or is a small footprint more important to you?
By

Published onApril 17, 2023

Apple iPad (10th Generation)
MSRP: $449.99
Check price
Positives
Updated design with a bigger display
Smooth and rich iPadOS 16 experience
Great battery life
Powerful A14 Bionic performance
No more Lightning port
Landscape selfie camera
Negatives
No more headphone jack
Confusing Apple Pencil compatibility
Slow USB-C transfer speeds
Only 64GB base storage
Major price increase
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
MSRP: $499.00
Check price
Positives
Attractive and lightweight design
Excellent performance
Solid battery life
Negatives
Pricey, especially for 256GB
Only 60Hz refresh rate
No headphone jack

Looking for a new tablet but don’t have a lot of cash to spare? The iPad (9th gen) is the absolute cheapest option at $329, but the design is getting a bit long in the tooth. If you’re looking for something newer, you might want to consider either the iPad (10th gen) or iPad Mini (6th gen). They both offer a decent amount of power and come in under $500, yet there are a few important differences between them. Let’s compare the iPad vs iPad Mini to find out which is right for you.

iPad vs iPad Mini: At a glance

Curious about how the iPad and iPad Mini compare? Here's a quick summary of the key differences:

  • iPad Mini has a faster SoC than the iPad
  • iPad Mini is thinner and lighter than the iPad
  • iPad Mini has Apple Pencil (gen 2) support; the iPad only works with the Apple Pencil (gen 1)

iPad vs iPad Mini: Specs

SpecsApple iPad (10th generation)Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Specs
Display
Apple iPad (10th generation)
10.9-inch Liquid Retina LCD

2,360 x 1,640 resolution

Landscape selfie camera
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
8.3-inch Liquid Retina LCD
1,488 x 2,266 pixels
327ppi

Specs
Processor
Apple iPad (10th generation)
Apple A14 Bionic
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Apple A15 Bionic
Specs
RAM
Apple iPad (10th generation)
4GB
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
4GB
Specs
Storage
Apple iPad (10th generation)
64GB
256GB
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
64GB
256GB
Specs
Battery
Apple iPad (10th generation)
28.6Wh
Up to 10 hours
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
19.3Wh
Rated for 10 hours
Specs
Cameras
Apple iPad (10th generation)
Main:
12MP Wide (ƒ/1.8 aperture, PDAF)

Front:
12MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4 aperture, 122-degree FOV)
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Main:
12MP camera (wide)
ƒ/1.8 aperture

Front:
12MP (ultrawide)
ƒ/2.4 aperture
Specs
Connectivity
Apple iPad (10th generation)
Wi-Fi 6
4G LTE (optional)

Bluetooth 5.2
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Wi-Fi 6
4G LTE (optional)
Specs
Accessories
Apple iPad (10th generation)
Apple Pencil (1st gen)
Magic Keyboard Folio
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Apple Pencil (2nd gen)
Specs
Dimensions and weight
Apple iPad (10th generation)
248.6 x 179.5 x 7mm
277g
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm
Wi-Fi: 293g
LTE: 297g
Specs
Colors
Apple iPad (10th generation)
Silver
Pink
Blue
Yellow
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Space Gray
Pink
Purple
Starlight

Let’s start with the most obvious difference between the two tablets, the screen size. The iPad has a larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD display with a brightness of up to 500 nits. Interestingly enough, the iPad Mini actually has a better display than the iPad.

The iPad Mini’s display uses the same Liquid Retina technology and also supports up to 500 nits of brightness. But, unlike the iPad, the 8.3-inch display is laminated with an anti-reflective coat. This means it has better visibility in bright locations and has no air gap between the panel and the glass. Lastly, the iPad Mini has a wider range of color support via the P3 color gamut, while the iPad uses the sRGB standard.

Aside from the display, the biggest difference between the iPad and iPad Mini is the SoC.  Despite being a year newer, the iPad uses an older Apple A14 Bionic SoC. While this chipset is plenty capable, the iPad Mini actually takes things up a notch with the Apple A15 Bionic. The latter chip is a bit faster and has an improved GPU, but you’ll likely find it nearly impossible to tell the difference in most day-to-day tasks.

An iPad mini running iPadOS 15
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

If you’re looking to use the iPad for drawing or taking notes, both tablets are up to the task, but only the iPad Mini supports the newer 2nd gen Apple Pencil. The iPad sticks to the older 1st gen stylus; it also requires a (thankfully cheap) adapter to work. From size to function, there are not that many major differences. It’s mostly just minor improvements like double-tapping the edge with your finger to trigger a command, such as switching to your last tool or the eraser.

One accessory the iPad Mini misses out on is an official keyboard. The iPad has the Magic Keyboard folio, which works a lot like the Microsoft Surface keyboard. Of course, there are third-party iPad keyboards that will play nicely with the iPad Mini — just don’t expect an Apple level of polish. While playing with the Folio, I felt it had nicer keys than my Logitech wireless keyboard, but your mileage may vary depending on what 3rd party keyboard you pick up.

Beyond the above differences, you’ll find a pretty similar experience. Both chipsets are backed by 4GB of RAM and offer either 64 or 256GB of storage. There is a slight difference in terms of connectivity, with the iPad rocking Bluetooth 5.2 vs Bluetooth 5.0 on the iPad Mini. Again, it’s not something you’ll really notice.

iPad vs iPad Mini: Size comparison

The iPad and iPad Mini have nearly identical designs, with display size being the biggest difference. And what a difference it makes. The iPad Mini is 184g lighter than the iPad, and it’s also much more compact. The iPad is also thicker than the iPad Mini. This smaller size not only makes the iPad Mini more portable, but in my experience, I found it was much easier to hold for long drawing or note-taking sessions with the Apple Pencil. Even video-taking is easier with the Mini, as you’re not holding up such a massive device.

If you look carefully, you will find a few other small differences, including the colorways available and the location of the front cameras. The iPad Mini also adds a flash sensor to the rear camera, something you won’t find on the iPad.

iPad vs iPad Mini: Camera

iPad Mini 2021 camera bump fingerprint reader
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

When previously comparing the iPad vs Air or even the iPad vs iPad Pro, I kept saying the camera doesn’t matter much for photography. This is slightly less true when you add the iPad Mini into the mix. The iPad Mini’s smaller footprint makes holding it much more comfortable, and the same applies to using it for taking a photo or recording a video.

Of course, the Mini is still much bigger than a smartphone, so it’s not the best choice as a main camera. I use our family’s iPad Mini mostly for simple shots around the house or for a quick video recording of the kids playing outside. In other words, think of it as a bonus camera but not a main reason for buying.

The iPad Mini is much easier to use as a camera than a bigger iPad, but it's still not something I'd ever use as your main cam.

The iPad Mini might be easier to use for videography and photography, but how is the quality? Both devices actually take decent enough photos as long as the lighting is good. Don’t expect the same quality you’d get from a newer iPhone or Android phone, but it’s passable enough.

The biggest use for an iPad camera is video conferencing via the front camera, so how do the tablets fare here? While the image quality is comparable, the iPad has a notable advantage. The iPad has a landscape-mounted camera, similar to what you’d find on a laptop. The Mini is vertically aligned.

If you’re wondering why the positioning matters, you’ve probably not been in too many important video calls. For professionals, however, it’s important to make eye contact and pay attention. Regardless of whether you’re listening or not, the iPad Mini’s camera is placed in a way that makes you look like you’re staring off into space.

iPad vs iPad Mini: Battery and charging

apple ipad port and charger
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The iPad and iPad Mini have very different battery sizes at 28.6Wh and 19.3Wh, respectively. Sounds like a big difference? In reality, the iPad Mini’s smaller display and more efficient processor even things out. Either device will net you around 10 hours of battery life, though you can certainly drain things faster with intensive tasks like gaming.

Where the iPad Mini shines is in charging speed. Although both devices have 20W chargers, the smaller battery on the Mini means you can take it from empty to full in just 90 minutes. The iPad isn’t too far behind at 2 hours, but it’s still a notable difference.

iPad vs iPad Mini: Price

  • Apple iPad (64GB, Wi-Fi): $449
  • Apple iPad (64GB, Cellular): $599
  • Apple iPad (256GB, Wi-Fi): $599
  • Apple iPad (256GB, Cellular): $749
  • iPad Mini (Wi-Fi only, 64GB): $499
  • iPad Mini (Wi-Fi only, 256GB): $649
  • iPad Mini (Wi-Fi + Cellular, 64GB): $649
  • iPad Mini (Wi-Fi + Cellular, 256GB): $799

The iPad Mini launched in September of 2021, while the iPad (10th gen) launched in the middle of October last year. Despite being newer, the iPad is slightly less powerful than the Mini, and that’s reflected in its price tag. The iPad Mini is certainly worth that premium, but be aware the iPad Mini (7th gen) isn’t too far off, so you might want to consider waiting.

Another thing to consider is the storage size. You don’t want 64GB, trust me. The only exception to this is if you plan to mostly use it for browsing and as an e-reader. If you plan to use games and other apps, the space will fill up fast and require you to constantly manage (read: uninstall) less used apps to make room for new ones.

iPad vs iPad Mini: Which should you buy?

iPad Mini 2021 Apple TV
Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

Figuring out the right iPad here mostly comes down to screen size. The Mini is a no-brainer if you want something small, light, and portable. Even better, Apple’s little guy has a better (but smaller) display, a slightly faster SoC, and supports the latest Apple Pencil with no adapter required.

Would you rather buy an iPad or the iPad Mini?

99 votes

If you want something that has a bigger display, the iPad performs very close to the iPad Mini but gives you more screen real state, a better alignment for its front cam, and support for Apple’s Magic Keyboard folio. Not impressed by the iPad’s performance but want a bigger screen than the Mini? The iPad Air might be a better fit, or even the more expensive iPad Pro.

See price at Amazon
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
1%off
Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Attractive and lightweight design
Excellent performance
Solid battery life
See price at Amazon
Apple iPad (10th Generation)
8%off
Apple iPad (10th Generation)
120Hz refresh rate
Solid battery life
Modern and robust

iPad vs iPad Mini: FAQ

There are currently no iPad models that are truly waterproof. Your best bet is to get an iPad case or iPad Mini case for your device.

Face ID is not available on either the iPad or the iPad Mini. The only iPad family member that supports this is the iPad Pro.

Unfortunately, the latest iPad family members have removed the headphone jack across the line. The only alternative is to pick up the iPad (9th gen), which Apple still officially sells.

The iPad family doesn’t support wireless charging, but there is an unofficial workaround. You can add the functionality with an adapter.