iPad (2017) vs iPad mini 4 (2017): Apple’s New iPads Examined


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When Apple took its online store offline on March 21 2017 many suspected that the company was set to introduce a slew of new iPad models. However, a new, much rumored, 10.1in iPad Pro didn’t materialize. Neither did any kind of update to the iPad Pro line at all. What Apple did do, however, was to get rid of the iPad mini 2 and bump up the storage on the iPad mini 4, which is sticking around for now. Apple also killed off the “iPad Air” branding and replaced it with a new non-Pro 9.7in tablet simply called the “iPad”.

It was a smart move for Apple to whittle down its iPad lineup. Now the company only offers four iPads: the 12.9in iPad Pro, the 9.7in iPad Pro, the 9.7in iPad, and the 7.9in iPad mini 4. Since the iPad and iPad mini 4 were the only new iPads announced, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at how the two new models compare.

iPad (2017) vs iPad mini 4 (2017): Design and Specs

iPad (2017)

  • Display: 9.7-inch 2048×1536 pixel at 264 ppi
  • Colors: Silver, Space Grey, Gold
  • Storage: 32 or 128GB
  • Processors: 64-bit A9 and M9
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Touch ID: yes
  • Cameras: front 1.2MP 720p HD camera and a rear 8MP 1080p HD camera
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, optional 4G
  • Size: 240 mm × 169.5 mm × 7.5 mm
  • Weight: 469 grams

iPad mini 4 (2017)

  • Display: 7.9-inch 2048×1536 pixels at 326 ppi
  • Colors: Silver, Space Grey, Gold
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Processors: 64-bit A8 and M8
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Touch ID: yes
  • Cameras: front 1.2MP 720p HD camera and a rear 8MP 1080p HD camera
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, optional 4G
  • Size: 203.2 mm × 134.8 mm × 6.1 mm
  • Weight: 299 grams

Let’s first look at their design and specs. As far as design, both look roughly the same (irrespective of their different screen sizes). Both models are made from aluminum bodies and come in Space Grey, Silver, or Gold. While they both have different dimensions due to screen size, the iPad mini 4 is significantly thinner by 1.4mm.

As for storage, the iPad comes in 32GB or 128GB sizes, while the iPad mini 4 only comes in 128GB. And each come in Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi+Cellular models.

Even the cameras in both of the iPads are the same. The iPad and the iPad mini 4 each have a front 1.2MP 720p HD FaceTime camera and a rear 8MP 1080p HD iSIght camera. They even each have 2GB of RAM.

Where the two do differ significantly, is internally; in the processor department.

The iPad has the faster processor–a 64-bit A9 chip with the M9 motion coprocessor. That compares to the 64-bit A8 and M8 chips found in the iPad mini 4.

So what’s the difference between the A9 and the A8? The A9 is 1.6x faster at processing and 1.8x faster when it comes to graphics.

In short, the A9 is more powerful. You’ll primarily notice this difference when playing games or running productivity apps.

iPad (2017) vs iPad mini 4 (2017): Display

Of course the biggest noticeable difference between the iPad and the iPad mini 4 is the display size. Interestingly, though the iPad is a 9.7-inch device and the mini is a 7.9-inch device, they have the exact same resolution of 2048×1536 pixels.

Matter of fact, it may surprise some people to find that the iPad mini 4 actually has a (technically) better screen than the iPad. Though the resolution of both are the exact same, the iPad mini 4 actually has more pixels per inch (ppi) at 326 versus the iPad’s 264 ppi.

While technically this does make the iPad mini 4’s display (326ppi) slightly better than the iPad’s (264 ppi), in reality users are not going to notice one bit of difference because the naked human eye can’t distinguish between pixels that are squished together at more than about ~220 ppi.

iPad (2017) vs iPad mini 4 (2017): Price

Here’s the rundown of the various costs for the different models of each iPad:

  • iPad mini 4 (2017): Wi-Fi 128GB £419; Wi-Fi + Cellular 128 GB £549.
  • iPad: Wi-Fi 32 GB £399, 128 GB £429; Wi-Fi + Cellular 32GB £469, 128 GB £559.

As you can see the price difference between each iPad mini 4 and comparable 128GB iPad model is only £10.

Latest iPad mini 4 deals:

Latest iPad deals:

iPad (2017) vs iPad mini 4 (2017): Verdict

I said this when the original iPad Air and iPad mini came out, and it hasn’t changed: given that the iPad and the iPad mini 4 are virtually identical besides their size and cost, the best choice for you depends on what you are using a tablet for.

Given its larger screen size, I would recommend the iPad to users who are not just content consumers, but content creators. The iPad’s larger screen lends itself to more productivity work.

What this means if if you are using the iPad as a laptop replacement–or even just an additional work tool–the bigger screen will help you do a lot more, whether it’s writing documents and spreadsheets, editing photos, or working with some advanced industry applications, like apps built for the medical, engineering, or creativity fields.

The iPad is also probably a little better for iOS gamers and the screen gives you more room for bigger controls and easier to see graphic details. It’s also going to run apps faster because of the A9 processor.

However, because of it’s screen size the iPad mini 4 is best if you are primarily a content consumer. That is, if you primarily read and compose emails, check Facebook, browse the web, view photos, play casual games, and generally consume other types of media such as films or TV shows.

The iPad mini 4 is especially good for ebook fans given it’s size is much closer to that of a physical book or Kindle. My female friends also seem to be much more fond of the iPad mini since they can easily slip it into their purses or handbags.

But at the end of the day, no matter which iPad you choose, you can run the exact same apps and get the exact same features on both devices. For this reason, size–and size alone–will dictate which you buy.

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