Apple have given us most of the details about their iPad Mini 4 and the company dropped it onto the market as it was announced. While it’s surprising that availability wasn’t leaked sooner South Africa is still going to have a wait a little while before we can begin the upgrade cycle. Which is a good thing, more or less, because we can make a more measured choice before plonking down the cash for the Mini 4. It’s time to ask yourself… do you really need Apple’s latest or is the iPad Mini 3 still acceptable for another year?
Some of you will answer “I need it!” right out of the gate. You can all leave now, pre-orders are being accepted on the left as you go. For everyone on the fence, here’s what you need to know about the differences between last year’s mini-tab and this year’s shiny new toy:
If you’re looking for anything better in the screen department then we’re sorry to say that you’re not going to be getting it. The good news is that there’s no downgrade, which leads to even better news. Apple’s fantastic 7.9-inch, 1,536 x 2,048 Retina display with that lovely 326 ppi density count looks just as good as it did the last time we saw it. Is it going to be an upgrade factor? Er… no. Not unless you’ve got a serious jonesing for an anti-reflective coating.
Size/shape – The Mini 4 is technically a bit more ‘mini’
Time for a handful of numbers: The iPad Mini 3, which is looking nervous right about now, measures 7.5mm thick which we thought was mighty darned thin for a tablet last year. It weighs in at 331grams for the WiFi only version, adding cellular bumps that weight up to 341grams. The iPad Mini 4, on the other hand, shaves off digits from all of these values as it packs in better features and components. The Mini 4 measures 6.1mm thick, starting at 298grams for the WiFi only version and going all the way up to 304grams for the cellular option. Some day Apple’s going to whip the covering cloth off what looks like a sheet of paper at this rate.
Power – Beefcake! BEEFCAAAKE!
Here’s where things veer off wildly enough to make you sit up and take notice. If you skipped out on the iPad Air 2 last year then you can get a smaller version this year. This will be the decision-maker for most users – the processor upgrade. Unless you’re handy with a soldering iron, the iPad Mini 3’s A7 processor isn’t going to be getting any faster, while you’re looking at comparable performance to the iPad Air 2 in this year’s iPad Mini 4. We’re taking Apple’s word on that at the moment but they’ve got no reason to fib about the performance gains over last year’s mini-tablet. What we don’t know yet is whether Apple have beefed up the RAM but it should work just fine either way – but more than 1GB of RAM would be nice, Apple.
Camera – Using all parts of the animal
There’s also a considerable advance in the camera that Apple’s 8-incher is sporting. The iPad Mini 3 has a 5MP five-element ƒ/2.4 aperture lens, capable of 1080p video recording. The Mini 4 has an 8MP five-element ƒ/2.4 aperture lens, capable of 1080p video recording. The megapixel jump to this year’s tablet doesn’t seem like much on paper but anyone who thinks that is the case has never had their hands on the iPhone’s iSight cameras. And it means that any leftover sensors from Apple’s iPhone lineup aren’t going to be going to waste.
Time to pick a side
You’ve got to pick one now. We’re inclined to try being impartial but it’s just not possible. There are reasons to upgrade from the iPad Mini 3 to the Mini 4 but there are much more compelling reasons to jump from the iPad Mini 2 to the Mini 4 instead. Just about all the updates from 2014 to 2015 are incremental, even if they’re executed with Apple’s customary flair and style. You’ll have to decide whether you’re okay with that. We’re…. not, really, but we wouldn’t kick the Mini 4 out if it just dropped in for a visit.