Is it Time for Apple to Upgrade the iPad Mini?


Apple has a pretty solid tablet lineup these days, with the iPad Pro sitting at the top and the new $329 iPad holding up the bottom.

And then there’s the iPad mini 4. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this device is out of date, just collecting dust on Apple’s shelves. You can buy a brand new one right now with 128GB of built-in storage from Apple’s website for $399. $399! And that’s for the Wi-Fi-only model. If you want to go with an option that can connect to a wireless network, well, you’ll need to fork over $529.

That’s borderline absurd. Even for Apple.

The iPad mini 4 is almost three years old, for one. And it hasn’t seen a single upgrade since then. It’s just been meant to languish as Apple focused on other tablet efforts, including launching the iPad Pro lineup, and introducing the iPad earlier this year. And that brand new piece of hardware, even if it isn’t a flagship model with top-tier specs, is still $70 cheaper than Apple’s three year old mini tablet.

(It’s worth noting that the 128GB iPad retails for $429, so $30 more than the 128GB iPad mini 4 — but that’s still not a good look on the smaller tablet.)

The iPad mini 4 is outdated and it’s priced way too high for what it offers. However, the silver lining here is that it’s still capable of running iOS 12, still has the App Store with a ton of software that supports that outdated hardware, and even today with the A8 processor under the hood I’m sure it would run great for several more years to come if you did happen to buy one this year.

That’s not good enough, not for a tablet you can buy right now that has a price tag of $400. And since this is Apple we’re talking about, there’s no real indicator if the iPad mini lineup is actually dead — or if Apple’s just waiting to upgrade it. In either one of those events, the iPad mini 4 needs to see a drastic price reduction. Would that potentially cannibalize sales from the $329 iPad? Maybe! Then again, maybe not, because that new iPad has newer hardware and it supports the Apple Pencil, while the iPad mini 4 does not.

In that scenario, I’d pick up the new iPad over the iPad mini 4 any day of the week.

But, if Apple’s next move with the iPad mini was up to me I’d actually say the company needs to upgrade it, not discontinue it. I love the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and I think I’m probably going to end up picking up whatever new iPad Pro model the company has to offer later this year, thanks to those smaller bezel rumors. But the iPad mini is still my favorite lineup of tablets the company has produced. They’re perfect for consuming content, especially books, which is why the iPad mini will always have a soft spot in my heart.

Whatever reasons Apple has, the company has decided that having a smaller tablet isn’t really worth having. Which is why I wasn’t too surprised to hear this morning that Apple isn’t planning on upgrading the lineup this September alongside the new iPad Pro models. Not that the rumor mill had been giving us any reasons to think the iPad mini 4 was getting replaced with something new. Still, it would be nice to see Apple refresh the mini family.

What do you think Apple should do with the iPad mini? Discontinue it altogether or upgrade it with something new?