Your next iPhone could be the iPad mini - iPhone 15 vs iPad mini showdown

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in iPad

You make a fraction as many phone calls as you used to, yet you're paying over a thousand bucks for a phone. This might be the time to switch from the iPhone to the iPad mini.

Tablet on a white table with colorful wavy wallpaper, time 8:22, brick wall background, books, and art in the background.
The iPad mini has almost everything an iPhone does, but for a lower cost



We get this question a lot more than you think we would. We get a lot of emails asking if an iPhone is better, or an iPad mini for any given use case.

It boils down to a key point. Very simply, take actual phone calls -- not FaceTime audio or video -- out of the picture for a moment and the iPad mini does everything you need. The devil is in the details, though.

The iPad mini is that sweet-spot combination of having a large but not too large screen. It's the right size for quickly checking your calendar before a meeting -- and for writing up the minutes on afterwards.

It's as excellent for reading books on as any iPad, but it's also small enough that you can take it anywhere. You'll barely notice it in your carry-on luggage, yet you can even sketch on it with an Apple Pencil.

Emails, browsing, reading books, watching videos, there isn't really anything that the iPhone 15 can do that the iPad mini can't -- and it will do it all for up to $300 less.

Unfortunately, if that price saving makes the choice seem so very obviously in favor of the iPad mini. There are just enough small differences between the devices that your decision depends on some very fine lines.

Specifically, there is the form factor, there are the ways in which the iPhone is just better -- and of course there is the issue of whether you ever want to make phone calls.

iPad mini vs iPhone 15 -- Spec showdown












































































iPad mini iPhone 15
Base price $499 $799
Price for 256GB and cellular $799
Best iPad mini prices
$899
Best iPhone deals
Screen size (inches) 8.3 6.1
Screen Type Liquid Retina Super Retina CDR
Resolution 2266x1438 at 326ppi 2556x1179 at 460ppi
Processor A15 Bionic A16 Bionic
Year 2021 2023
Apple Pencil Yes (2nd Generation and USB-C) No
Biometric Touch ID Face ID
Camera (rear) 12MP wide Dual cameras including 48MP
Camera (front) 12MP Ultra Wide 12MP TrueDepth
Dimensions (inches) 7.69 x 5.3 x 0.25 5.31 x 2.82 x 0.31
Weight (ounces) 10.4 6.02

iPad mini vs iPhone 15 -- calls



The iPad mini cannot make regular cellphone calls and there is nothing that can change this. Except, it can make voice calls over the internet, over FaceTime, over Messages, and over many third-party apps such as Slack.

All of this makes the need for an actual cellphone call even less, if it doesn't remove that need entirely. But then all of it also means that this is one case where it is probably essential to have a cellular-enabled iPad mini.

That would mean being practically as connected as with an iPhone, but it also cuts into that $300 price difference. An iPad mini with a cell connection starts at $649, or only $150 less than an iPhone 15.

iPad mini vs iPhone 15 -- storage capacity



The base iPad mini has 64GB of storage, which is anemic, not to say miserly in early 2024. This is especially true when you consider that the iPhone 15 starts at 128GB. Buy the next -- and only -- tier up and get an iPad mini with 256GB storage for $799.

Storage is perhaps more of an issue with any iPad than it is with any iPhone. That's because you might change your iPhone annually, or at least often enough that you learn what storage space you need.

Whereas you're likely to keep an iPad for many years more than you would an iPhone. So you're stuck with whatever storage you bought at the start, and that storage is also being filled up with years of use.

Still, the price of more storage could be enough to stop you comparing the two. Now a cellular iPad mini with 256GB is the same price as an iPhone 15.

However, the 128GB of the iPhone 15 isn't exactly great, either. And if you up that to 256GB to match the only other storage option of the iPad mini, that iPhone 15 now costs $899.

So there remains a price difference, and it is in the iPad mini's favor. But the choice really comes down to your specific needs for a device.

It comes down to whether those needs are better served by the larger-size iPad mini, or the higher-specification iPhone 15.

iPad mini vs iPhone 15 -- screen and chassis size



No iPhone comes close to the 8.3-inch size of the iPad mini screen, which has significant implications for the vision-impaired. The iPhone 15's display is 6.1 inches, and even the larger iPhone 15 Plus only gets you a 6.7 inch one.

Equally, though, every other iPad in the range beats the iPad mini for size. From the regular iPad with its 10.9-inch screen to the new M4 iPad Pro with its 13-inch display, they are all significantly larger than the iPad mini.

Apple's iPad range encompasses around three different sizes, and accommodates very different prices
Every iPad is bigger than any iPhone, but the iPad mini can still be used one-handed



But with any larger screen size comes a larger device. Even the iPad mini is 7.69 inches by 5.2 inches, and is a quarter of an inch thick. That compares to 5.31 by 2.82 inches for the iPhone 15, although that is thicker at 0.31 inches.

The size difference is enough that the iPad mini will not fit as easily into a pocket as the iPhone 15. But it's smaller than any other iPad, so it will fit into any bag or purse -- and it can still be held in one hand.

It's a similar situation with the weight of the two devices. The iPad mini is heavier at 10.4 ounces, compared to the iPhone 15's 6.02 ounces, but it's not a dramatic difference in practice.

iPad mini vs iPhone 15 -- display quality



Where it's possible that there will be a dramatic difference, yet perhaps imperceptible, is in screen quality. The iPhone 15 has a significantly higher resolution, at 460 pixels per inch compared to the iPad mini's 326ppi.

Consequently, the larger screen on the iPad mini is not as sharp as the display on the iPhone 15. That's exacerbated by how the iPad mini has a Liquid Retina screen while the iPhone 15 has the superior Super Retina Display.

Specifically, the iPad mini has a resolution of 2266 x 1438 pixels, while the iPhone 15 is 2556 x 1179 pixels.

So when placed side by side, the larger screen of the iPad mini may look a little softer or blurrier than the smaller display of the iPhone 15 but at these resolutions and at typical viewing distances, it's incredibly hard to discern.

More practically, what this means is that the iPhone 15 screen has a much higher contrast ratio, it shows true black, and overall more vibrant colors.

If screen quality is a dealbreaker, though, then it's important to note that neither device has ProMotion. This makes the iPhone 15 Pro and iPad Pro displays noticeably better.

But few users are likely to spend much time with both an iPad mini and, say, an iPhone 15 Pro next to each other. Despite the differences, despite the poorer display on the iPad mini, the screens of that and the iPhone 15 are both very good.

iPad mini vs iPhone 15 -- capability



It is true that there really isn't anything that the iPhone 15 can do that the iPad can't, but it is a question of degrees. And there is one area where calling the difference debatable is true, but generous.

For both devices do have cameras, but the iPhone 15's ones are substantially better. The iPhone 15 has dual cameras on the rear, including a 48MP one, while the iPad mini has only a single 12MP rear camera.

The iPad mini's 12MP Wide camera has an f/1.8 aperture and digital zoom up to 5x. In comparison, the main one of the iPhone 15's two cameras is an Ultra Wide 13mm, F/2.5 aperture camera.

It comes with optical zoom as well as twice the digital zoom capability. The iPhone 15 comes with portrait effects including focus and depth control, and it uses Apple's Deep Fusion computational photography feature.

So there's really no comparison between the two in terms of cameras -- if you ever use the extra features of the iPhone's camera. For just taking a casual photo, or perhaps more usefully for just being on a Zoom or a FaceTime call, the iPad mini is fine.

Tablet with handwritten notes and doodles, accompanied by a white stylus, on a white background.
The iPad mini can be used with an Apple Pencil, where no iPhone can



There is one other difference between the capabilities of devices, though, and it's to do with what you can do with photos or other media when it has been taken or recorded. The iPad mini can be used with a second-generation or USB-C Apple Pencil, and the iPhone 15 cannot use either.

iPad mini vs iPhone 15 -- processing power



The iPad mini has an A15 Bionic processor from 2021, which is when the device was last updated. In comparison, the iPhone 15, released in 2023, has the A16 Bionic.

Benchmarks using Geekbench show that the iPad mini performs around the same as an iPhone 12 Pro Max in single core testing. The iPad mini scores 2211 in that test, against 2096 for the larger iPhone, which was released the previous year.

Geekbench single-core benchmarks
Geekbench single-core benchmarks



For multi-core use, the iPad mini comes in with a score of 5331. The closest iPhone to that score is the third generation iPhone SE, which gets 5261.

In comparison, the iPhone 15 scores 2556 single-core, and 6337 multi-core. Benchmark scores don't give much of a sense of real-world performance, still the case that the iPad mini lags just a hair behind the iPhone 15.

Geekbench multi-core benchmarks
Geekbench multi-core benchmarks



The fact that it only just beats 2020's iPhone 12 Pro Max may be useful in assessing whether it's likely to be powerful enough for you. But then you can look at it the other way -- this iPad mini is as powerful as what the top of the iPhone range was the year before it was released.

With the rather important exception that the iPad mini is on the A15 Bionic processor where the iPhone 15 is on the A16 Bionic, the two devices have a lot in common. It seems as if every element of a processor gets improved each year, but both devices have a 6-core CPU with 2 performance cores and 4 efficiency ones.

They both have a 5-core GPU, too, and a 16-core Neural Engine. That Neural Engine powers the iPad mini's Machine Learning, and features to do with photography.

In general, all of this is collectively a difference that probably isn't very important, except perhaps at the moment. For right now the iPad mini is approaching three years old, which likely means it could be updated soon.

In fact, we're expecting a new iPad mini in the fall right around the same time as the iPhone 16.

Apple's oldest iPad model



The iPad mini's latest refresh in 2021 was a particularly strong one, but it is now showing its age -- and Apple is still selling it for the same price.

The iPad's cameras never match the current iPhone's, but it's not as if they're rubbish
The iPad's cameras never match the current iPhone's, but it's not as if they're rubbish



But then if Apple takes its time updating iPads, so users tend to stick with what they've got for much longer than they do iPhones. The device you buy today will last for years, even it is unchanged since its 2021 launch.

There have, of course, been fairly constant rumors that a new iPad mini is coming shortly. It's just this shortly is now extending for years.

In October 2023, it was claimed that what's called the iPad mini 7 would be released by early 2024. While that didn't happen, the same rumor also claimed that there may not be a great difference between the current iPad mini and any new one.

Specifically, that latest rumor about the next iPad mini claims that it is solely the processor that will be updated. That will make a difference to its benchmark scores, and after so many years, it's likely to make a difference that you will notice.

But the rumor is that there won't be, for instance, ProMotion on the iPad mini 7. It won't be as significant update as the current iPad mini was over its predecessors.

Yet whatever does or doesn't come with a new iPad mini 7 -- whenever that is released -- may not matter very much to you. Even the fact that the iPad mini you can buy today is now three years old, that might not be as much of a criticism as it seems.

Instead, the age of the device could even be the clinching argument for the iPad over the iPhone. For not only is the cost of an iPad mini less than that of an iPhone today, when you figure out the cost over many years, the iPad mini becomes more and more of a bargain.

Where to buy Apple's iPhone 15 vs iPad mini



Apple's iPhone 15 is available at wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon, with aggressive iPhone deals in effect now (often bringing the cost of the device down to as low as free after bill credits and trade-in incentives).

The iPad, meanwhile, is also on sale, with iPad mini prices dipping to as low as $469 at press time. You can compare sales across popular retailers in our Price Guide and iPad deals roundup.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    y2any2an Posts: 196member
    The mini 4 screen size was great. I still have mine because the new mini has too small a screen for browsing YouTube in landscape. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 28
    houttbehouttbe Posts: 3member
    Can you set up an Apple Watch on the mini?

    If you could, a mini + an Apple Watch with an eSIM and AirPods would be a good combination.
    edited May 24 williamlondonlordjohnwhorfingregalexandersflagelwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28
    bryanusbryanus Posts: 23member
    interesting idea. And if you use Google Voice, then you can use it to make phone calls, and also have a smaller phone device for when you're out and about. But the problem with an ipad IMO, is that it is really bad for typing on. The on-screen keyboard covers most of the screen and the field you are entering text into, not to mention it is difficult to type with thumbs in portrait mode, and landscape would require the ipad to be set onto a surface. This is where the handheld phone form factor excels.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 28
    What is the reason that iPads with cellular can't make/take "regular" cell phone calls (without VOIP or when it is not associated with an iPhone)? Is it a carrier decision that limits the iPad cellular connection to data only, or is there some other technical reason?

    I realize it's not too difficult to set up Google voice or other VOIP service to provide a phone number to allow an iPad to send and receive calls, but it seems silly to not have the cell call capability built-in.
    williamlondonpulseimagesVictorMortimerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    iOS_Guy80iOS_Guy80 Posts: 841member
    houttbe said:
    Can you set up an Apple Watch on the mini?

    If you could, a mini + an Apple Watch with an eSIM and AirPods would be a good combination.
    Good point. iPhone is the only device that is required to use with Apple Watch.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 28
    iOS_Guy80iOS_Guy80 Posts: 841member
    What is the reason that iPads with cellular can't make/take "regular" cell phone calls (without VOIP or when it is not associated with an iPhone)? Is it a carrier decision that limits the iPad cellular connection to data only, or is there some other technical reason?

    I realize it's not too difficult to set up Google voice or other VOIP service to provide a phone number to allow an iPad to send and receive calls, but it seems silly to not have the cell call capability built-in.
    Is this the same limitation on Apple Watch being associated with an iPhone?
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 28
    You can setup an Apple Watch to be independent of an iPhone using Family Sharing but it is not fully functional. Calls do work on a cellular Watch but not every feature is available.
    VictorMortimerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 28
    Bring out the new iPad mini and I’ll buy one, then.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 28
    multimediamultimedia Posts: 1,037member
    I can use VOIP with the same Magicjack account I use on my iPhone 15 Pro Max on my iPad mini 6 but not at the same time. I limit my use of VOIP to WiFi only so that combined with my $2.50 a month Red Pocket T-Mobile account keeps my iPhone service down to $30 a year plus the Magicjack account which I can also use on the iPad mini for about $10 a year.

    But now that iPhones use USB-C I plan to upgrade my iPhone every year to the top of the line model.

    http://redpocket.com there’s also a Red Pocket app.
    edited May 25 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28
    slow n easyslow n easy Posts: 355member
    I have never considered buying an iPad mini. I have always thought of the standard iPad as a mini. In my opinion the iPhone Max is way too big and even the 6.1" is on the verge of being too big. I want my iPhone to reside in my front jeans pocket. I mostly use my iPad for internet stuff and I feel that even the standard iPad is too small for that. I jumped at the opportunity for a 12.9" iPad and I will never want anything smaller than that. Maybe if I were a woman I would want an iPad mini because I could stick it in my purse. I notice a lot of people putting their iPhones in their back pocket, but that never made sense to me, and I would never do that. Basically, my device buying decisions are completely governed by screen size. screen size is extremely important to me. I need a small phone and a large iPad.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 28
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 550member
    Love the iPad mini. Would love it more with ProMotion.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 28
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,675member
    I love a Big phone, but there’s no way I’d carry an iPad mini even if it was the iPhone Phat.  
    williamlondonVictorMortimerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 28
    In my particular case and I know I’m fortunate ~ my kit is as follows.

    an M4 iPad Pro 13 inch - for work, gaming and general home use.
    an iPad mini latest gen which goes with me in my bag when I’m out and about, but not,work.
    an iPhone 14 Pro max
    a Mac M1 at home.
    an Apple,watch ultra.

    its a really interesting article and I had never thought of it but ultimately my iPhone is the ONLY device,that is GUARANTEED to be with me everywhere.

    this, the camera and the Apple Watch means that I couldn’t imagine replacing it.  Would love it to be halfway between its current size and the mini though.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 28
    nubusnubus Posts: 443member
    Will mini survive? It dates back to 2021 and is the last model without USB C. It won't be possible to sell it in the EU within 7 months. Apple and all resellers must clear stocks well in advance. Not the first time that Apple has to temporarily withdraw a product from EU - it happened with iSight due to the level of harmful chemicals but for mini to be removed... USB C is not a major change. If there is no new mini by August then it is dead. Probably already is.
  • Reply 15 of 28
    sakamurasakamura Posts: 4member
    Yeah, the Apple Watch limitation is the reason why the kids here didn't get an Apple Watch for such a long time. We are fully in the ecosystem, but they prefer playing games on the tablet, and have no reasons to get a phone so far. They use Whatsapp, Snapchat, whatever, and play games such as Roblox, Minecraft ... but don't care at all about getting the smaller cell phone.

    However, the Apple Watch without cell (and worse for base models - again, they don't care about most health items the newer devices propose) couldn't be paired without an iPhone.

    It's stupid. We have Mac, MacBook, they got individual iPads, but they couldn't pair an Apple Watch. For us adults, it's ok. But for kids without reasons to have cell plans, it's an artificial limitation that makes it easy for them to be tempted outside the ecosystem.

    Same thing for the entire Pencil debacle. It's so stupid there's 3 different models of pencils that can only bind to very particular models. One cannot just say "hey a new model that supports this or that, let's purchase it", no it needs to be made for your own iPad.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 28
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,067member
    Honestly. All the attempts to make an iPad be an iPhone or a MacBook are just silly. 
    jeffharris
  • Reply 17 of 28
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 1,272member
    AppleZulu said:
    Honestly. All the attempts to make an iPad be an iPhone or a MacBook are just silly. 
    Agreed. Others have commented that it would be too big to pocket anyway. Personally, I can’t carry a bag with me everywhere on the job site. I need it pocketable, or an otter box type belt clip. 
    edited May 26
  • Reply 18 of 28
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,371member
    What is the reason that iPads with cellular can't make/take "regular" cell phone calls (without VOIP or when it is not associated with an iPhone)? Is it a carrier decision that limits the iPad cellular connection to data only, or is there some other technical reason?

    The iPads (all of them) lack cellular network telephony circuitry that enables Cellular Voice and messaging services, so it can only access Internet Protocol (IP) data services.

    Perhaps the day is coming where the entire cellular phone network will run on VOIP, in which case it could become possible. Don't hold your breath, but it could happen.
    roundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    dutchlorddutchlord Posts: 231member
    No, my next iPad will be a MBP. The iPad is not a replacement for a work MBP. Apple has the wrong priorities or lacks the commitment for this as it regards this as “just another hobby”.
    edited May 26 williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 28
    cicocico Posts: 15member
    You can setup an Apple Watch to be independent of an iPhone using Family Sharing but it is not fully functional. Calls do work on a cellular Watch but not every feature is available.
    But I believe you don’t have a different number on the watch, i.e. you still need a phone plan to be able to use it.. I think?
    watto_cobra
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