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Even though both are capable of running iPadOS 14 along with the latest apps and games, iPad Air 4 and iPad mini 5 offer completely different tablet experiences. An updated A14 processor inside the iPad Air 4, larger screen size and support for the latest Apple accessories, such as the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard, make the iPad Air more suitable for productivity, while its light weight and size make the mini better for portability. Deciding between these iPads comes down to what you appreciate most, but overall, the flexibility of the iPad Air 4 makes it our choice for the best iPad in this fight.
Before we dive into the technical stuff, let's take a look at the physical differences between the two iPad models. First of all, the iPad Air 4 is the first iPad to come in finishes that are not silver, gold or Space Space. With the new colors Blue Sky and green, iPad Air is a breath of fresh air, finally giving iPad owners a way to express a little personality and making the new Air look, well, new.
Turning to the displays, the iPad Air 4, although quite thin even with a 10.9-inch screen, is almost two inches wider and taller than the iPad mini 5 and almost double the weight. The larger size means that the iPad Air 4 is pretty much a two-handed device and is more suitable for use in the landscape position.
However, the lighter iPad mini 5 is much easier to hold with one hand, and the smaller 7.9-inch screen size, with larger frames, feels good when held like a phone in portrait position. . Speaking of frames, the iPad's classic design keeps the main button with Touch ID sensor on the front and center, giving users a quick escape to the home screen and a convenient way to authenticate without having to reposition the iPad.
On the iPad Air 4, Apple moved the Touch ID to the Sleep / Wake button that resets at the top of the frame and completely got rid of the Home button in favor of gesture-based navigation. Removing the Home button should be minimal for those with modern iPhones, but for those upgrading from an older iPad, it will take a long time to adjust.
So, with the obvious things along the way, let's move on to the technical specifications, because there are even more differences to consider.
|iPad Air 4
|iPad mini 5
|From $ 599
|From $ 399
|5 (silver, gold, space gray, light blue, green)
|3 (silver, gold, space gray)
|Wi-Fi + Cellular
|64 GB or 256 GB
|64 GB or 256 GB
|9.74 x 7.0 x 0.24 inches
|8.0 x 5.3 x 0.24 inches
|1 pound sterling
|2360-by-160 at 264 ppi
|2048-by-1536 at 326 ppi
|Wide color display (P3)
|500 typical nights
|500 typical nights
|Second generation only
|Only the first generation
|3.5 mm headphone jack
|Yes, the Sleep / Wake button
|Yes, the Home button
|10 hours Wi-Fi, 9 hours cell phone
|10 hours Wi-Fi, 9 hours cell phone
As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between the two, such as battery life, which is exactly the same on both Wi-Fi and cellular models. Both iPads also have laminated displays, anti-glare coatings, wide P3 colors, True Tone and can reach up to 500 nits of brightness. Both iPads also have 7MP front cameras and come in two storage options, 64GB and 256GB.
However, there are also a lot of differences that really need to be considered before making the purchase decision. The biggest difference under the hood is the inclusion of the A14 Bionic processor in the iPad Air. The latest Apple A-series chip is the first to use the 5-nanometer process, which increases performance and energy efficiency. The A14 is a huge upgrade to the A12, which is in the iPad mini 5, with Apple claiming to offer up to 40% better performance, making the Air more suitable for long haul.
Going back to the things you can see, another big difference between the two has to do with audio. Both the iPad Air 4 and the iPad mini 5 rely on two speakers to provide sound, but the iPad Air 4 speakers are positioned in a landscape position, surrounding the screen to provide a more captivating experience. However, the iPad mini 5 has a bit of a top spot on the iPad Air 4 when it comes to headphones, as it actually has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a rarity for Apple devices nowadays.
Despite their similar appearance, the unique charging port on the bottom of the iPads is different. With its major redesign, the iPad Air 4 has moved to USB-C, opening the doors to a whole new world of possibilities. Switching to USB-C makes it easier to find accessories such as video output cables and flash drives, plus the standard is more ubiquitous for Android phones, making finding a charging cable much easier when you're outside.
The cameras on the back of the iPads are also quite different, the iPad Air 4 having a 12MP system compared to 8MP on the mini 5. The camera on the iPad Air 4 is also capable of recording videos in 4K, a Huge step over 1080p which is maximum on iPad mini 5.
What really differentiates the two iPads is their ability to work with Apple's line of productivity accessories. Both iPads support the Apple Pencil, but the iPad mini 5 is only compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil and the Logitech Crayon, which are not as fluid and not as convenient to use. The Apple Pencil 2 has a sleeker and more refined design and introduces a touch gesture that can switch between instruments without having to touch the screen. Completing the Apple pen is also very different between the two, the second generation pencil is charged wirelessly by magnetic attachment on the iPad Air 4 side. On the iPad mini 5, charge the Apple pencil by connecting it to the Lightning port, which not only that it looks weird, but it also creates a major point of failure.
The latest iPad Air also benefits from the smart connection of the Apple connector. The set of small pins behind the iPad allows it to connect to the Apple Folio Smart Keyboard and the amazing Magic Keyboard that includes a trackpad. Both keyboards are powered by the iPad and transfer data via the Smart Connector, so there are no batteries to worry about and no Bluetooth pairing. The iPad mini 5 doesn't have a smart connector, so you'll have to endure a bit of accessory handling.
For those who want an iPad that can do everything, iPad Air 4 is the clear choice. The A14 chip of the iPad Air 4 will easily chew even the most demanding applications and games and will probably continue to do so in the near future.
Of course, where the iPad Air 4 really shines is productivity. The larger 10.9-inch screen of the iPad Air 4 offers a much better experience with running apps alongside Split View, and the larger screen is better for drawing and note-taking when combined with the Apple Pencil 2.
Throw away the smart connector on the back that allows it to work with the Folio smart keyboard and Magic Keyboard and you'll get an iPad that can replace your Mac or PC for students, graphic designers and even some professionals.
If you want a comfortable, familiar iPad and simply intend to use it as a tablet and not for work, then the iPad mini 5 is the one for you. The smaller iPad offers an excellent tablet experience as it can be kept for hours on end. one-handed string, perfect for reading, plus its portable character makes it easy to take with you wherever you go.
The iPad mini 5's Aion Bionic processor is more than capable of applications and games and is so powerful that Apple includes it in the latest basic iPad model (2020), so it has a lot of life left. While its smaller size limits productivity, Apple Pencil's first-generation support makes the mini a compelling choice for fast notes, but don't expect it to replace the existing workflow.
iPad Air 4
Productive and powerful
The iPad Air 4 combines professional-level performance and support for the latest productivity accessories with fun colors and an affordable price, making it the clear choice for the mini for most.
iPad mini 5
Mini, but strong
The latest iPad mini is the king of portability thanks to its incredibly light and compact design and its 7.9-inch screen. If you just want a great tablet experience and don't intend to use it for work, then go with mini, which is still very capable.
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