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

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

Trying to choose between iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5? We're help you work out which is the best buy for you in this comparison of Apple's latest mini tablets. The iPad mini may be small, but it offers plenty of power – more than the basic iPad. That makes it a brilliant option for those looking for a highly portable device for working, sketching and taking notes on the go – even while riding on a bus or train.

If you've decided that portability is the solution for you, the next decision is which model to go for (and you'll then need to decide on specs). One aspect that might make the difference for you is price, since you're more likely to find a discount on the 2019 iPad mini 5 than the 2021 iPad mini 6. But the newer iPad has a couple of advantages that will make it worth the extra expense for some people.

Below, we compare iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5 based on our own reviewers' experiences with each device in terms of design, performance and display and an in-depth review of their specs and price (learn more about how we test and review). You'll also find direct links to the retailers currently offering the best prices, but for bargains on Apple products in general, see our pick of the best Apple deals and the best Apple Black Friday 2022 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.

The iPad mini 5 is compatible with Apple Pencil 1 (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 2

The iPad mini 6 is compatible with the improved Apple Pencil 2 (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.

Battery life on the iPad mini 5 (above) is similar to that of the newer model (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.

The iPad mini 6's big advantage is its Apple Pencil 2 support (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.

The iPad mini 6 has an improved camera  (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.

The iPad mini 5 still performs excellently for general browsing (Image credit: Future)

How to iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5 compare in performance, though? Well, 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.

The iPad mini 5 is worth considering if you find a discount (Image credit: Apple)

And, finally one big decided in iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5 could be 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. 

That means the iPad mini 5 could be a winner on price, but we have seen some great discounts on the iPad mini 6 as well, including up to $100 at Amazon on several occasions, so it's worth comparing when you buy. Refurbished iPads are also widely available and could be an option if you're looking to save (see our guide to buying refurbished tech). Either way, make sure you 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.

The iPad mini 6 is probably the best buy for most people (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 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.