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Apple iPad mini 4 unboxing and comparison [Video]

This wasn’t discussed much in the official announcement, but the iPad mini 4 is a pretty nice step above its predecessor with enhancements in a few key areas that definitely make a difference. The major things you need to know about with this iPad mostly falls in line with Apple’s upgrade patterns: thinner, lighter, faster. Though there are some performance differences at play as well…

Apple has upgraded the internal specifications to include the A8 processor and M8 motion co-processor with 2GB of RAM, which is a step up over the A7 and 1GB of RAM found in the iPad mini 3. Along with that, the rear facing iSight camera has been bumped to 8-megapixels, up from 5 in the previous generation, but the front facing shooter remains the same. Though this is only important if you actually value taking photos with a tablet. Touch ID is also still present, introduced last year with the iPad mini 3.

While raw benchmarks won’t tell the entire story here, Geekbench 3 did reveal that the newer model is slightly faster than the previous one. I’d hope so with a better processor, but the real difference is something you’ll experience system-wide using iOS 9 and the new software enhancements that come along with that.

Check out our iPad mini 4 vs iPad mini 3 unboxing and comparison video below:

If you’re into performance and keeping up with the latest features in iOS 9, the iPad mini 4 is definitely the way to go. The software experience is noticeably more fluid with this device, but along with that you can take advantage of the new Split View mode in iOS 9, which is not supported on the iPad mini 3. If you’d like to know about more iOS 9-specific features coming to iPhone and iPad, we recently put together a rundown of everything which you can find here.

Software and performance differences aside, some of the biggest changes come in the form of hardware refinements, several of which make an impact. First off, the iPad mini 4 is 18% thinner than its predecessor and weighs in slightly less at 0.65 pound (roughly 299 grams). The iPad mini 4 is also slightly taller than the last version and as you would expect, all of these changes slightly affect accessories. Unfortunately, your old iPad mini cases will not fit this time around. There’s no workaround here but to buy new cases for this thinner and taller mini. Apple’s new case selection is limited to the standard options at the moment, but I went ahead and picked up a Midnight Blue Smart Cover to kick things off.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 6.58.17 PM

The microphone on the back side has been re-positioned and there’s a new secondary mic on the side above the volume rockers. And as you might have noticed, Apple has ditched the mute switch this time around and has given the volume buttons a cleaner look to closely match the iPad Air 2. On the bottom end of things, the speaker grille has been reconfigured as well. Nothing special here, but these subtle design differences make the iPad mini 4 finally feel like something closer to the latest-gen iOS devices.

The 7.9-inch display on the iPad mini 4 sports the same 2048 x 1536 resolution as its predecessor, but it looks a ton better this time around. Apple went with a fully laminated display and anti-reflective coating on the iPad mini 4 which looks drastically better to my eyes and has a much darker bezel on the Space Gray model that I definitely prefer. This takes away that small air gap that was between the actual display panel and the top glass protecting it. Colors are crisp, contrast is much better, and the UI is literally right at your fingertips. It makes a huge difference when you see the two side-by-side in person.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 6.58.41 PM

So what have we discovered here? Well, the iPad mini 4 is the best iPad mini ever… Obviously. Aside from that nonsense, there are some pretty important changes being made here that I feel really add to the positive experience. Thinner, lighter, faster isn’t always the only thing that matters. It’s the improved display and design changes that really have me hyped about this new iPad mini. Is it worth upgrading to from the last generation? Probably not, but definitely from anything prior to the iPad mini 3. It starts at $399 for the 16GB model, but I went ahead and snagged the 64GB model for $100 more which I feel is definitely the better deal.

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  1. applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

    Do you notice any performance difference between the Air 2 and Mini 4? I’m in the market for a new iPad but can’t afford the iPad Air 2 64GB yet. So if the Mini 4 has the same performance I will just get the Mini 4.

    • Dom Esposito - 8 years ago

      It’s not exactly the same performance. Specs are different, but it will be close for normal use.

      • According to apple’s site, the specs are exactly the same in the mini 4 and the Air 2. What’s different other than Pixels per inch?

      • pangjai (@wcpang) - 8 years ago

        @2forliberty A8X & A8 not the same….

    • bhayes444 - 8 years ago

      Go for a refurbished iPad Air 2 on Apple’s store page. You’ll save at least $80 and will have the same 1 year warranty, with a brand new battery and casing. My refurbished store purchases have been going strong for years.

    • Doug Reynics - 8 years ago

      I have the mini 2. Just bought the mini 4. I don’t see tremendous difference at all. It’s still a bit glitchy as apps are catching up to be compatible with os9. I love how thin and light it is. It doesn’t fit my iPad mini 2 case. It’s a skinch longer which sucks. Getting a new one has been a pain. I’d say keep your 2 for now. Yea it’s nice but it’s not going to change your world.

  2. I still remember the day when they made the iPads with all the same guts, saying that the mini should not be any lesser than the full sized iPad. Then they changed their mind. Now you give a weaker and cheaper to produce machine and expect me to pay only $100 less for it. PLEASE…

    • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

      Well I kinda understand the iPad Pro needs more guts than the other iPads, why else would you call it pro? ok the display but look at Macbooks. Macbook Pros are also more powerful than the Macbook Air and Macbook.

      And they didn’t upgrade the iPad Mini last year for that reason, so that when the iPad Pro comes out, the iPad Mini and iPad Air lag behind 1 chip generation. They upgraded the iPad Air 2 chip last year because not upgrading the chip in either iPads for 1 year was too much… and so they updated one last year without updating the other and did the same this year but with the other iPads.
      They could have just as well upgraded both last year to the A8 and put an A9 in them this year and an A10 in the Pro… But they didn’t…

  3. ishan24 - 8 years ago

    its affordable than air 2 but happy with air 2.

  4. Sahil Malik - 8 years ago

    My apple gear right now is iPad mini2, iPhone6+, MacBookAir, and iMac5k. I see no reason to buy anything Apple has shown so far.

    The mini4 vs mini2 – thinner/lighter/faster is not that much of a big deal at this point. So I’ll miss only touchid and splitview. For $500ish, I’ll survive.

    iPad pro – too heavy and too big. If I wanted to get any real work done, I’ll take my laptop.
    Mini is the perfect size for a tablet. It fits in my coat pocket, airline front seat pocket, car glove box, in my armpit when I have to pull keys out, etc. etc.

    Watch – I still don’t see why that is a big deal, I actually like not having to wear a watch, or constant notifications, or yet another device to charge.

    Really the only thing I want from Apple at the moment, is a new wireless keyboard with butterfly keys, and ability to connect to multiple bluetooth devices.
    And while I’m dreaming, somehow make the keyboard surface understand gestures, that would be hella sweet!

    Besides that, I’m happy with what I have.

  5. jamshid (@jamshid) - 8 years ago

    Confirmed: the Smart Case doesn’t fit the new Mini 4. Anyone know if an updated case will be made available? Apple sales doesn’t know. They do have a separate silicone case for back and Smart Cover, but I’d rather have a one-piece Smart Case.

    • Doug Reynics - 8 years ago

      I bought a mini 4 case for Amazon but it was bizarre shipping. I paid $17.98 for one day ship but it said delivery would be Tuesday. So I cancelled the order. You’re correct that apple doesn’t sell them. The salesman said it would fit. I challenged him to open the box and try to fit it onto the new mini. Wouldn’t work. Pisses me off apple is so flagrant to put out product without the proper peripherals.

  6. Ilko Sarafski - 8 years ago

    I would love to have one, but currently I am saving greens for 6S :) My iPad 2 is quite aging now, quite laggy and it would be really nice to switch it (the thing that I am really looking for is the new screen… the iPad 2’s is not even Retina. And it is so noticeable!) with that gorgeous Mini 4. Thanks for the great video, Dom! It’s always a pleasure to follow your work, namely the unboxing/presenting the new stuff. :)

  7. triankar - 8 years ago

    My iPad mini 2 works beautifully and I’m not quite convinced the 4 is worth the jump. OK, TouchID, a better display and a slightly better processor. Big deal. Most likely I’ll upgrade next year, when they hopefully give it 3DTouch and an A9 processor. Dimensions-wise, I’d prefer if they kept it the same size and used the same exact processor as the Air 2 and a larger battery to cope. But with Ive heading the design department, it had to be “oh so thinner and lighter”.

    iPad pro? Designers, artists, engineers and medical doctors are likely the target audience. People using mostly Office apps will likely manage with it as a laptop replacement, if they don’t have too many files to organise (iOS’s weakest point for work, along with apps copying files into their file space for processing). Anybody else is keeping their laptop. I’m keeping my rMBP, definitely.

    Apple didn’t convince me with the new MacBook, they didn’t convince me with the iPad Pro either. They should have merged these two devices into their equivalent of the Surface. Now we’re sitting here with two half-baked products instead of what should have been. Ya, it’s Microsoft, but they damn nailed it: 12-ish inches with high ppi, a proper desktop OS, touch screen + stylus + keyboard, a proper processor and proper expansion. Too bad it runs Windows :/

    I do think that Ive is doing more harm than good to the company at the moment.

  8. How is this not worth upgrading to, even if you have a Mini 3? The 3’s screen and performance are absolute garbage.

  9. The only wish I had with the mini 3 and now the mini 4 is that they offered the same zoomed mode the iPhone 6+ offers. Other than that, I’ve had the iPad mini 4 since Wednesday night and there is a significant and noticeable change in speed. Also, I agree with the comment that the new screen is not the same screen as the mini 3. Yes it has the same specs in terms of pixels, but the screen is definitely a refinement compared to the last gen.

  10. wacojoe - 8 years ago

    The biggest problem with the Mini, as I see it, is the sensitivity of the bezel affucting and inputting to the screen itself. This is somewhat of a problem with the regular iPads, but enhanced with the thin bezel on the Mini. Very aggrevating to trigger a screen chenge when your thumb slips a bit yet stii does not touch the screen. I have never seen this defect even mentioned. The bezel needs to be much more innert. Any chance they have made that critical upgrade?

  11. yuwei (@szfloodlighting) - 7 years ago

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