Original iPad mini versus iPad mini 6 - how far we've come

Posted:
in iPad edited September 16
Over nine years, Apple has released six versions of the iPad mini, and taken it from a cut-down iPad in both price and features, to a premium device.

How Apple originally launched the iPad mini in 2012
How Apple originally launched the iPad mini in 2012


The new iPad mini 6 is faster than the latest iPad, or the iPad Air 4. It has a better camera than that iPad Air, plus both the same USB-C connector and the same 5G connectivity as the iPad Pro.

Apple's 2021 iPad mini is a powerhouse that could be the only device you need. Apple's 2012 iPad mini was none of that.

"iPad mini is every inch an iPad," said Apple's Phil Schiller in a statement in 2012. "With its gorgeous 7.9-inch display, iPad mini features the same number of pixels as the original iPad and iPad 2, so you can run more than 275,000 apps designed specifically for iPad.

"iPad mini is as thin as a pencil and as light as a pad of paper," he continued, "yet packs a fast A5 chip, FaceTime HD and 5 megapixel iSight cameras and ultrafast wirelessall while delivering up to 10 hours of battery life."

Original iPad mini versus iPad mini 6 - Size, scale and price

Apple could talk up the specifications all it wanted, what the iPad mini originally offered was a small size, and a slightly smaller price tag. The iPad 4, released at the same time, started at $499, while that original iPad mini went for $329.

Today the price difference is literally reversed. The iPad mini 6 starts at $499, and the newest iPad is from $329.

But what's changed more dramatically is that the iPad mini is no longer a cut down iPad, no more a cheaper one, designed to get customers who couldn't or wouldn't afford a full iPad. Instead, it's a device of its own, practically a category of its own.

And in getting there through six iterations over nearly a decade, it has steadily seen each key specification improve as the iPad mini became more popular.

Comparing the original and 6th generation iPad mini

 Original iPad miniiPad mini 6
Year20122021
Price (starting)$329$499
Dimensions (inches)7.87 x 5.3 x 0.287.69 x 5.3 x 0.25
Weight (pounds) Wi-Fi only)0.680.65
Weight (pounds) (Cellular)0.690.66
ProcessorDual-core A5A15 Bionic
Storage16GB, 32GB, 64GB64GB, 256GB
Display Type7.9-inch8.3-inch Liquid Retina with True Tone, 500 nits brightness
Resolution1024 x 768 at 163ppi2266 x 1488 at 326ppi
Connectivity802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0.5G (sub-6 GHz), Gigabit LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
BatteryUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hours
Rear camera5MP12MP Wide, f/1.8 aperture, 5x digital zoom, Smart HDR for photos, Quad-LED True Tone flash
Rear camera video1080p HD video4K at 24fps, 25fps, 30fps, 60fps, or 1080p HD at 25fps, 30fps, 60fps; 3x zoom; Slow-Mo 1080p at 120fps or 240fps; extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps
Front camera1.2MP12MP Ultra Wide, f/2.4 aperture, Retina Flash, Smart HRD 3 for photos
Front camera video720p HD1080p HD video at 25, 30, or 60 fps
Center StageNoYes
ConnectorLightningUSB-C
Apple Pencil supportNoSecond Generation
AudioStereo speakers; 3.5mm headphone
Two speaker audio landscape mode
Touch IDNoYes
ColorsBlack & Slate, White & SilverSpace Gray, Pink, Purple, Starlight

Original iPad mini versus iPad mini 6 - Display changes

Schiller could call the original iPad mini display "gorgeous," and mean it at the time, but now you wouldn't look at it. While it was 7.9 inches, and every model since up to the latest has remained that size, nothing else is the same.

It began with a 1024 x 768 resolution screen, at 163ppi. The new model has increased the screen size to 8.3 inches, but it's also bumped up the resolution to 2266 x 1488, at 326ppi.

So the new screen is twice the resolution in almost every respect. But it's also now a Liquid Retina display with True Tone, the same technology used in the higher end iPad Air, and iPad Pro.

Original iPad mini versus iPad mini 6 - Case changes

The physical size of the iPad mini has remained remarkably constant, as if Apple hit the sweet spot right out of the gate. The original one was 0.28 inches deep, and the iPad mini 6 is only 0.25 inches for instance.

There was a more noticeable difference by the time of the iPad mini 5. That had a height of 8.0 inches, where the original was 7.87 inches.

But despite having a larger screen area, the new iPad 6 has more than pulled back the chassis dimensions. It's now 7.69 inches high.

The overall width has remained steadily at 5.3 inches. So in most respects, the original iPad mini is very similar to the new one, unless you look at the screen.

Or unless you spot the now long-forgotten 3.5mm headphone jack. There are still speakers, though until AppleInsider has finished testing the iPad mini 6, we won't know just what a difference the sound has.

Apple says that the new model provides "two speaker audio landscape mode," but the original had stereo speakers too.

How Apple markets the iPad mini 6 today
How Apple markets the iPad mini 6 today

Original iPad mini versus iPad mini 6 - Processor and connectivity

Apple's original iPad mini packed "a fast A5 chip," but even in 2012, the regular iPad was on the A6X processor. Today's new model is the A15 Bionic, the same as in the iPhone 13 range.

That A5 processor powered a rear camera that was 5MP and could shoot 1080p video. Today's rear camera is a 12MP wide one, with Quad-LED True Tone flash, and the ability to record 4K video at up to 60 frames per second.

And if there is one feature that marks the original iPad mini out as an antique, it's the front-facing camera. While Apple called it a FaceTime HD one -- and kept using that term for years -- it was just a 1.2MP one.

Not 12MP, it was 1.2MP.

Small is beautiful

Apple's original advertising line for the iPad mini in 2012 was, "Every inch an iPad." All of the marketing was around how "there's less of it, but no less to it."

Now it's "mega power" and "mini sized." And while it is described as having "the magic of iPad... in the palm of your hand," Apple calls it "a device unlike any other."

The price means this will no longer appeal to entry-level customers. The combination of a lower cost and a bigger screen is likely to keep the regular iPad being the most popular model.

First you bought iPad mini as a cut-down iPad, then when the prices flipped around, you were paying extra for that smaller size.

Now you're paying extra for a small device that is extraordinarily capable.

If only the iPhone 12 mini had proved to be as popular

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    This was an excellent article. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane, William. That original iPad mini was my first iPad ever, and it remained in use until last fall when I traded it in for the new Air 4. Apple gave me $60 for it, which I thought was extraordinary for an 8 year old device. 
    sdw2001StrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 11
    "If only the iPhone 12 mini had proved to be as popular"

    If Apple would give the iPhone mini the "Pro" features (excluding size constraint features) it would maybe make the mini a much more popular handset.
    williamlondoncaladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    If only the iPhone 12 mini had proved to be as popular

    The iPad mini has always pretty much been a scaled-down iPad - same feature set in a smaller body.

    The iPhone 12 mini is a low-end iPhone that happens to be in a smaller body. Sales figures show it's not done well, and the conclusion everyone leaps to is that nobody wants a small iPhone. Which may well be true, but certainly can't be proven by the figures alone.

    I'd love a high-end phone that can be used by one hand again. Been wanting one since the 5 was killed off.
    caladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,721member
    I had an iPad mini and an iPad mini 2. It was a massive difference just between those two models. Totally agree with the comments about the display.  The original was horrendous compared to just one generation later.  I now have an Air 4, and I have zero complaints.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    sdw2001 said:
    I had an iPad mini and an iPad mini 2. It was a massive difference just between those two models. Totally agree with the comments about the display.  The original was horrendous compared to just one generation later.  I now have an Air 4, and I have zero complaints.  
    "Horrendous," nothing like a bit of hyperbole, no?  ;)

    The v1 mini was a lovely device, yes v2's display was improved, but the form factor was nicer in v1, thinner, lighter, nicer in the hand.

    The new mini probably should have been reassigned to be part of the 'Air' line, seems a very solid upgrade, might pair well with a new iPhone 13 mini, no?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    Yet no comparison of software maximum OS for the original vs current. 
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    I'm actually jumping from Mini 2 to Mini 6. That 2 still works great but Apple finally cut off the iOS upgrades and some apps I use seem to really want new iOS features.

    Obviously, I'm anticipating a BIG leap forward in both hardware and software. 

    BUT, I do want to celebrate the Mini lifecycle. These things LAST... and tend to work pretty great even long after most everything else tends to start getting "long in tooth" consumer spin. iPads have good legs in terms of usefulness. I'm expecting this 6 to still be in major use 4-6 years from now... much like the great 2 has served me so well for all these years since it was launched. 

    Hello Mini 6! 
    williamlondonStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,721member
    sdw2001 said:
    I had an iPad mini and an iPad mini 2. It was a massive difference just between those two models. Totally agree with the comments about the display.  The original was horrendous compared to just one generation later.  I now have an Air 4, and I have zero complaints.  
    "Horrendous," nothing like a bit of hyperbole, no?  ;)

    The v1 mini was a lovely device, yes v2's display was improved, but the form factor was nicer in v1, thinner, lighter, nicer in the hand.

    The new mini probably should have been reassigned to be part of the 'Air' line, seems a very solid upgrade, might pair well with a new iPhone 13 mini, no?
    I said horrendous as compared to the first.   

    If you’re going to take issue with my comment, at least include the full context. And no, I don’t think it’s hyperbole.  The mini 2 was also all around a much better device.  
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    What about memory? It surely is way bigger than the original. But how does it compare to the Air and pro-model? The A15 screams, this might more be a pro machine than a air machine. 

    And by the way, I love my iPhone 12 mini. Small hands.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    sdw2001 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    I had an iPad mini and an iPad mini 2. It was a massive difference just between those two models. Totally agree with the comments about the display.  The original was horrendous compared to just one generation later.  I now have an Air 4, and I have zero complaints.  
    "Horrendous," nothing like a bit of hyperbole, no?  ;)

    The v1 mini was a lovely device, yes v2's display was improved, but the form factor was nicer in v1, thinner, lighter, nicer in the hand.

    The new mini probably should have been reassigned to be part of the 'Air' line, seems a very solid upgrade, might pair well with a new iPhone 13 mini, no?
    I said horrendous as compared to the first.   

    If you’re going to take issue with my comment, at least include the full context. And no, I don’t think it’s hyperbole.  The mini 2 was also all around a much better device.  
    Still hyperbole with context.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,721member
    sdw2001 said:
    sdw2001 said:
    I had an iPad mini and an iPad mini 2. It was a massive difference just between those two models. Totally agree with the comments about the display.  The original was horrendous compared to just one generation later.  I now have an Air 4, and I have zero complaints.  
    "Horrendous," nothing like a bit of hyperbole, no?  ;)

    The v1 mini was a lovely device, yes v2's display was improved, but the form factor was nicer in v1, thinner, lighter, nicer in the hand.

    The new mini probably should have been reassigned to be part of the 'Air' line, seems a very solid upgrade, might pair well with a new iPhone 13 mini, no?
    I said horrendous as compared to the first.   

    If you’re going to take issue with my comment, at least include the full context. And no, I don’t think it’s hyperbole.  The mini 2 was also all around a much better device.  
    Still hyperbole with context.
    Well, whatever you think. I owned both and the difference was pretty amazing. I’m not saying the iPad mini was a bad product. But next to the second generation it doesn’t compare.  

    Now, for what it’s worth, my iPad mini 2 suffered a really weird demise. It would display zero charge at random times and not seem to hold a charge.  I never found a solution.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
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