AFTER nearly four years of silence, the iPad mini has finally been given a new lease of life.
The Sun has spent a few days with Apple’s iPad mini 5, putting the small and powerful £399 slate through its paces. We’re impressed, but why? Here’s our verdict.
The iPad mini has received a major upgrade, and now supports the Apple Pencil stylus
iPad mini 5 – what is it?
Apple’s iPad mini 4 landed in 2015, after which followed a long period without updates.
The iPhone and other iPad models quickly moved on, enjoying powerful hardware upgrades iPad mini fans could only dream of.
And just when everyone had nearly given up hope for a refresh, Apple dropped the iPad mini 5 in 2019.
The 7.9-inch tablet is the smallest iPad in Apple’s line-up, and is the second cheapest at £399 – slightly pricier than the £319 new iPad.
Apple The iPad mini 5 also has the same powerful processor as the iPhone XS, so you can easily tackle visually demanding tasks – like movie editing
But it’s also more powerful and more portable, which explains why it commands a slightly higher price point.iPad mini 5 design – is it any good?
The iPad mini 5 looks virtually identical to its predecessor.
It’s got the same large bezel around the screen, the same 7.9-inch display, and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the bottom.
It’s hardly revolutionary design, but it’s tried and tested – and looks as good as any tablet on the market (except the pricey new iPad Pro).
Admission: I never bothered buying previous iPad mini generations.
Like many, I’ve always had full-size tablets and didn’t see the point in “downgrading” to a smaller screen.
Oh how wrong I was.
It turns out that downsizing the screen completely changes the way you use the iPad, and in some cases, for the better.
Larger iPads are great for plonking down on a table, and they’re even comfortable enough to hold while watching telly.
But one of my biggest gripes is that trying to hold a full-size iPad and game isn’t easy. The screen is often too large and unwieldy, and your fingers, wrists and forearms quickly fatigue.
The history of the iPadHere’s every iPad model ever released by Apple…
iPad – April 3, 2010
iPad 2 – March 11, 2011
iPad (3rd gen) – March 16, 2012
iPad mini – November 2, 2012
iPad (4th gen) – November 12, 2012
iPad Air – November 1, 2013
iPad mini 2 – November 12, 2013
iPad Air 2 – October 22, 2014
iPad mini 3 – October 22, 2014
iPad mini 4 – September 9, 2015
iPad Pro (12.9 inch) – November 11, 2015
iPad Pro (9.7 inch) – March 31, 2016
New iPad – March 24, 2017
iPad Pro (12.9 inch, 2nd gen) – June 13, 2017
iPad Pro (10.5 inch) – June 13, 2017
New iPad – March 27, 2018
iPad Pro (3rd gen) – October 30, 2018
iPad mini 5 – March 18, 2019
iPad Air 3 – March 18, 2019
The iPad mini 5 is – in my opinion – the ultimate gaming tablet. It’s powerful enough to run the most demanding iOS games, and it’s small and lightweight at just 300 grams.
Since I started using the iPad mini 5, I haven’t touched my iPhone or iPad Pro for gaming – despite both being more expensive devices.
If you want a work machine for intense productivity tasks, the iPad mini 5 may not be the perfect choice.
But for media and gaming, it’s arguably even better than a 9.7-inch iPad, simply due to its size and weight.
You can reach across the screen easily, hold it comfortably in one hand, and stuff it in your pocket when you’re done.
Apple Apple now has a huge line-up of iPads available
iPad mini 5 specs, features and performance
Where the iPad mini 5 really shines is on the hardware front.
The headline feature on this gadget (at least in my opinion) is the processor powering the device.
It’s got Apple’s ludicrously fast A12 Bionic chipset on board, which is the same top-end processor that powers the iPhone XS.
That means this is now the cheapest way to get your hands on the A12 chip – and all of the benefits it brings.
It’s so tremendously faster than the iPad mini 4 that it’s not even worth comparing. But if you simply must know, it’s about three times the speed – with nine times faster graphics.
You can run gorgeous games without lag: I recommend Oceanhorn, which is a truly beautiful, console-style explorer RPG.
But if a £1,449 iPhone XS Max can run a game, this £399 iPad mini 5 can run it just as well – and it’s all thanks to the chip.
iPad mini 5 specs – the geeky bitsApple’s new iPad hardware revealed…
Screen: 7.9-inch LED-backlit screen (500 nits brightness)
Display: 2,048 x 1,536 resolution (326 pixels per inch)
Storage: 64GB / 256GB
Chipset: A12 Bionic chip
Rear Camera: 8 megapixels (f/2.4 aperture)
Selfie Camera: 7 megapixels (f/2.2 aperture)
Battery Life: 10 hours of web-surfing, watching video or listening to music
Software: iOS 12
Ports: Headphone Jack / Lightning Connector
Unlocking: Touch ID fingerprint scanner
Weight: 300.5 grams
Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm
Colours: Silver / Space Grey / Gold
Apple The iPad mini’s Apple Pencil support will make it much easier to draw and take notes
The other big news for the iPad mini 5 is the addition of support for the Apple Pencil stylus.
You’ll have to fork out an extra £89 for it, but it’s a small price to pay for impressive gadget.
The Apple Pencil connects wirelessly over Bluetooth, and is great for note-taking, drawing and even photo-editing.
One of my favourite editing apps is Pixelmator, and using the Apple Pencil to re-touch photos allows for much more precision – and is often easier than editing on a MacBook.
Apple has also fitted the iPad mini 5 with an advanced Retina display, which boasts True Tone tech that adjusts the screen’s colour temperature based on ambient lighting around you.
It’s also 25% brighter, and has the highest pixel density of an iPad.
And it also supports augmented reality apps thanks to the 8-megapixel camera on the back.
Best AR games to downloadHere are some great augmented reality games for your iPad…
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade – this hugely popular 3D action game is set in the rich Warhammer universe, and has an AR mode that lets you bring the battle into the real world. (download)
AR Runner – This sports game is designed to boost your fitness. Your iPhone overlays running routes on the world around you, prompting you to sprint through checkpoints and beat timers. And you can even compete with other players globally. (download)
Euclidean Lands – A mind-bending puzzle game that requires shifting and rotating the world to solve. And there’s a great AR mode that lets you bring the puzzle into your living room. (download)
AR Dragon – A great choice for kids, AR Dragon is like a Tamagotchi from the future. Players hatch and care for their own virtual dragon pets, and can play with it at home, in the office or on the street with augmented reality. (download)
Laser Draw – This epic multiplayer game is like Pictionary but in augmented reality. Players draw images in mid-air, and your mates will see them on their own iPhones. It’s probably the most sci-fi game you can play at the pub. (download)
To find other augmented reality games, open the App Store, press the Games tab, and then scroll down to AR Games.
iPad mini 5 verdict – should you buy it?
The iPad mini 5 blindsided me, and has become a surprise favourite in my tech arsenal.
I was expecting a slightly more rubbish version of a full-size iPad, but what I ended up with was a fantastic gaming and media device that didn’t feel like a chore to carry around.
The fact that it fits easily in a coat pocket, doesn’t strain your hand during use, but retains all the features of a full-size iPad is impressive.
But what really sold me was the tremendous computing heft on offer, thanks to Apple’s A12 Bionic chip.
This processor is truly a computing masterpiece, and benchmark tests suggest it’s the most powerful mobile chip on the market today.
The fact that you can get extreme levels of computing on a £399 tablet is staggering, and means it’s undoubtedly worth upgrading if you’ve got an older model
The Sun says: If you’re looking for a main work machine for video editing or word processing, you’ll probably want an iPad Pro.
But the iPad mini 5 will likely be the perfect Apple tablet for almost everybody else. And at £399, it’s a surefire steal. ★★★★★
Apple iPad mini 5 (2019) at John Lewis for £399 (shipping March 26) – buy now
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What do you think of Apple’s new iPad mini 5? Let us know in the comments!
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