The iPad Mini, released in 2012, was a breath of fresh air from its large and clunky older brothers, the iPad and iPad 2. At the time, a smaller and lighter tablet made sense. The original iPad Mini even managed to keep up with the specs of the larger iPad 2, and even had some upgrades like a better front-facing camera and Lightning connector. The iPad Mini is currently in its 4thgeneration, but recent rumors suggest that the 4th may be the last. After just 4 years of existence, is it time to retire the iPad Mini?
If true, it wouldn’t be unprecedented. Apple wouldn’t phase out something that was well worth the company’s time and effort, and demand for the iPad Mini likely dwindled after the 9.7-inch iPad went from heavy and clunky to thin and light with the introduction to the lighter iPad Air and iPad Pro models. Other rumors suggest that even the 9.7-inch iPad will phase out soon as well, but only in regards to the screen size; Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (referred to as WWDC) will allegedly introduced new 10.5-inch iPad, which would fit in the same body as the current 9.7-inch iPads by shrinking bezels.
At the same time, I would be surprised if the iPad Mini was phasing out. Apple also introduced the 12.9-inch iPad Pro back in 2015, so I would think that keeping three different sizes would mean Apple would have the perfect (or close to) solution for everybody. After all, the iPhone has essentially the same set up between the iPhone Plus, iPhone, and iPhone SE.
However, another aspect to consider about this potential move is that, simply put, most people don’t upgrade their tablets as often as they do their smartphones. Even if the iPad Mini was a favorite product, if enough people don’t upgrade often enough – if they don’t have a reason to upgrade often enough, I should say – then it just becomes another valid reason why the iPad Mini may very well get the axe.
While I haven’t owned nor any interest in an iPad Mini in a few years, one thing that I know would spark my interest would be an iPad Mini with Apple Pencil support. I used to own a Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet, and I absolutely loved its size and ability to work with the docked S Pen. I’ve tested the Apple Pencil on both iPad Pro models and found it precise, comfortable, and enjoyable, but wished the tablets themselves had the compact form factor of my old Galaxy Note 8.0.
As it stands right now, the iPad Mini 4 doesn’t offer much over the new entry level 2017 iPad. Offered at $399 for the 128GB model (the only model available) it’s only $30 less than the 128GB 9.7-inch 2017 model, and $70 more than the entry-level 9.7-inch 32GB model. The main differentiator is the screen size, but for some people that’s the most important factor regardless of price.
From my perspective, the jump from 7.9 to 9.7-inch display (or whatever screen may end up in the current 9.7-inch body) isn’t so big it’s uncomfortable. I’m sure there are a few people out there that will be upset if the rumor ends up being true, but even so, the nice thing about iPads is that they can last for a very long time without suffering much in the way of performance. I still have an original iPad Air that works perfectly well for what I use it for, and it will be 4 years old later this year. Alternatively, even if Apple is no longer interested in small tablets, Amazon appears to be going full-force on its affordable 8-inch tablet line. The only caveat, of course, is that it doesn’t run on iOS and Fire OS is only based on Android, but has its limitations. Still, if screen size is the most important feature, then it’s good to know that there are options out there.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Do you think the evolution of iPads have negated the need for iPad Minis, or should Apple keep them around?