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iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: which should you buy?

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5
(Image credit: Apple / Future)

Struggling to choose between iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5? We're here to help you decide between the two last iterations of Apple's smallest tablet. The diminutive tablet may not give you a lot of screen space, but it does give you a lot of power, with internal specs that outshine the standard iPad and in an even more portable form. It's a fantastic tablet for creatives that need to work on the move, for example during a commute. 

So if you're sold on that improved performance and portability, should you pay top whack for the latest iPad mini 6 or save some cash and go for the older iPad mini 5? Our analysis of iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5 below aims to help you decide. We put the two tablets head to head in all of the key areas, from price and performance to design and display. You'll find links to the best prices on each below, and for more offers on other products, you can check out our regular guide to the best Apple deals

You might also want to compare the standard iPad vs iPad mini, or for a broader overview of where these iPads sit in the line-up, check out our guide to the iPad generations

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Design

The iPad mini 5 sitting on a table.

(Image credit: Future)

Design-wise, the two iPads minis couldn’t be more different. While the iPad mini 5 has a “last gen” feel with a Home button and wide screen bezels (particularly at the top and bottom), the iPad mini 6 adopts Apple’s more recent all-screen design, which removes the Home button and moves the Touch ID login feature to the lock button at the top.

In terms of size and weight, the two devices are similar. The iPad mini 5 measures 203.2mm x 134.8mm x 6.1mm and weighs 300.5g or 308.2g, depending on the model. The iPad mini 6, meanwhile, is 195.4mm x 134.8mm x 6.3mm and weighs between 293g and 297g.

The iPad mini 6 comes in four colours: space grey, pink, purple, and starlight. The iPad mini 5, on the other hand, comes in space grey, silver, and gold. For an overview of where these fall in the iPad family, see our iPad generations list.

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Display

The iPad mini 6 on a table with an Apple Pencil.

(Image credit: Future)

When Apple removed the Home button and reduced the bezels in the iPad mini 6, it was able to increase the space devoted to the device’s display. That means it moved up from the 7.9-inch display in the iPad mini 5 to a more expansive 8.3-inch screen.

Other than that, the displays are very similar – both support the P3 colour gamut and Apple’s True Tone technology, with the main difference being the resolution. The iPad mini 5 sports a 2048x1536 resolution, while the iPad mini 6 comes with a 2266x1488 resolution. In light of their different sizes, both are 326ppi. Still, the larger screen on the iPad mini 6 is better for drawing and creative work.

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Battery life

The iPad mini 5 propped upright on a desk next to an Apple Pencil.

(Image credit: Future)

Apple says the iPad mini 5 contains a 19.1-watt-hour battery and that this will last for up to 10 hours of web browsing or video and music playback on the Wi-Fi model and nine hours on the Wi-Fi and cellular version.

On the iPad mini 6, the battery capacity gets bumped up slightly to 19.3-watt-hours, but it lasts for the same 10 or nine hours (depending on the model) due to the extra energy used by the larger display. More intense use cases, like working with demanding creative apps, will likely drain the batteries of both devices faster.

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Features

A person drawing on an iPad mini using an Apple Pencil.

(Image credit: Apple)

Both models feature Touch ID to help you log in securely and verify payments. On the iPad mini 5 it’s located in the Home button, while it’s in the lock button on the iPad mini 6. As for Apple Pencil support, the iPad mini 5 only works with the first-generation model. The iPad mini 6, meanwhile, is compatible with the latest second-generation version. Both work with Bluetooth keyboards.

Both devices have dual microphones and stereo speakers, and both offer 64GB and 256GB storage options. The iPad mini 5 has a Lightning port, while the iPad mini 6 uses a more versatile USB-C slot.

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Camera

The reverse side of the iPad mini 6, showing its camera setup.

(Image credit: Future)

The camera system is one area where the iPad mini 6 pulls ahead in iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5. Its rear-facing camera is a single-lens setup with a 12MP resolution. Compared to the single 8MP camera on the back of the iPad mini 5, it is better by leaps and bounds.

The difference is even starker on the front, where the iPad mini 6’s 12MP front-facing camera is leagues ahead of the 7MP lens on the iPad mini 5. If you want to take photos – or regularly do video calls – the iPad mini 6 is the clear winner here.

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Performance

A person holding the iPad mini 5 and viewing a web page.

(Image credit: Future)

Being the more recent device, it's unsurprising that the iPad mini 6 offers better performance. It comes with Apple’s A15 Bionic chip, which is the same chip you’ll find in the iPhone 13 range. This is three generations newer than the iPad mini 5’s A12 Bionic. While that's a good chip itself, it can’t match the A15 Bionic for performance.

And whereas the iPad mini 5 uses 4G connectivity, the iPad mini 6 comes with 5G. Although this is yet to roll out to many people, its benefit should become more apparent in the years to come. If you intend to keep your iPad for a number of years (and want one with cellular capabilities), that could be an important point to consider.

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Price

A person holding an iPad mini 5 and drawing on it with an Apple Pencil.

(Image credit: Apple)

So finally how do iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5 compare on price? The 2021 iPad mini 6 starts at $499 (£479) for 64GB of storage and $649 (£619) for 256GB. Apple no longer sells the iPad mini 5 itself, but at the time of writing, you could get a 64GB model for around $340 (£315) on websites such as Amazon. 

Apple sells refurbished iPads, including the iPad mini 5, on its website from time to time. Apple replaces any parts as required, cleans each device, and ensures it operates “like new.” It’s a good idea to check back now and then to see if you can get a bargain. See our guide to the best iPad mini prices or check the list of current prices below to find the best deals.

iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Conclusion

An iPad mini 6 propped up against a wall.

(Image credit: Future)

In almost every factor other than price, the iPad mini 6 wins the battle of iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5, making it the buy. It has a more modern design, larger display, a stronger processor, a better camera system, and more up-to-speed features. If you’re looking for something more affordable, the iPad mini 5 is still a good choice and will offer a great tablet experience, but if you have the cash, we recommend going for the iPad mini 6.

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Alex Blake
Alex Blake

Alex Blake is a freelance tech journalist who writes for Creative Bloq, TechRadar, Digital Trends, and others. Before going freelance he was commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine, focusing on the world of Apple products. His interests include web design, typography, and video games.