Today in a surprise announcement, Apple has unveiled refreshes to both the iPad Air and iPad mini lineups. The last releases in the lineups were the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 back in 2015. We had thought Apple had abandoned the models, yet today’s release now breathes fresh air into the devices with much needed internal hardware upgrades as well as new functionality.

Apple iPad Comparison
  iPad Air 2 iPad mini 4 iPad Air (2019) iPad mini (2019)
SoC Apple A8X

3 x Typhoon @ 1.5GHz
Apple A8

2 x Typhoon @ 1.5GHz
Apple A12 Bionic

2 × Vortex @ 2.5GHz
4 × Tempest @ 1.59GHz
Display 9.7" 2048x1536 IPS LCD 7.9" 2048x1536 IPS LCD 10.5" 2224x1668

DCI-P3, True Tone
7.9" 2048x1536

DCI-P3, True Tone
Dimensions 240 x 169.5
x 6.1mm

203.2 x 134.8
x 6.1mm

250.6 x 174.1
x 6.1mm

456g / 464g
203.2 x 134.8
x 6.1mm

300g / 308.2g
NAND 16 / 64 / 128GB 64 / 256GB
Battery 27.3Wh 19.1Wh 30.2Wh 19.1Wh
Front Camera 1.2MP, F/2.2 7MP, F/2.2
Rear Camera 8MP, F/2.4, 1.1 micron 8MP, F/2.4
Cellular 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 9) UE Category 16 LTE (1Gbps) with 4x4 MIMO and LAA
SIM Size NanoSIM NanoSIM + eSIM
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO,
802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO,
Connectivity Apple Lightning
3.5mm headphone
Apple Lightning
3.5mm headphone
Launch OS iOS 9 iOS 12
Launch Price $499 (16G)
$599 (64G)
$699 (128G)
(Wifi / Cellular)

$399/$529 (16G)
$499/$629 (64G)
$599/$729 (128G)
(Wifi / Cellular)

$499/$629 (64G)
$649/$779 (256G)
(Wifi / Cellular)

$399/$529 (64G)
$549/$679 (256G)

On the internal hardware side, both the new iPad Air (2019) and the new iPad mini (2019) make use of Apple’s new 7nm A12 chipset, which we’ve already seen in the iPhone XS and XR models. The A12X’s increased performance thus remains exclusive to the iPad Pro models this year.

iPad Mini 2019

The new iPad mini doesn’t change its design from its predecessor, which might not be to everybody’s liking in 2019 as the rather big bezels do feel a bit out of place compared to other newer tablets. While the design hasn’t seen an update, the 7.9” 2048x1536 IPS display will see some significant changes as it now supports Display P3 as well as True Tone.

iPad Air 2019

The new iPad Air on the other hand does see significant design changes with a slight reduction in bezels, offering more screen estate. The new display comes now in a 10.5” diameter and increases the resolution to 2224x1668. Similarly to the new iPad mini, it also now supports P3 wide gamut content as well as True Tone.

The new Air is ever so slightly bigger than its predecessor, being 10mm taller, 4.6mm wider and 19g heavier. The new battery does increase from 27.3Wh to 30.2Wh.

Interestingly both devices still come with the home button and its capacitive fingerprint sensor, as well as 3.5mm headphone jack (not that we're complaining), so this is probably Apple’s purest hardware-only refresh ever.

The one single big new feature about the new iPads is that the devices are now compatible with the Apple Pencil. It’s to be noted we’re talking about the first generation Pencil, and not the second-generation unit we find in 2018’s new iPad Pros.

Overall, it’s interesting to see Apple refresh the iPad line-up, especially the often forgotten iPad mini. Apple’s reluctance to make any major design changes to the products, even 4 years on is quite odd, but then again if it isn’t broken, don’t attempt to fix it.

The new iPad mini and iPad Air come in 64 and 256GB variants, starting at $399 for the iPad mini and $499 for the iPad Air. The extra storage costs you $150, and added cellular connectivity adds another $130.

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  • Tams80 - Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - link

    Mobile CPUs are still easily overloaded compared to desktops. One drawing or 3D art program can bring one to its knees and require compromises to be made.

    I have a tablet that has a very weak SoC. It's fine for browsing and note taking, but I soon found it handy for other stuff that it can barely handle.
  • cfenton - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    Even web browsing feels slow on these mid-range SOCs. The Galaxy Tab S2 uses a Snapdragon 652, which uses Cortex A-72's from 2015. It's not even in the same league as the A12, which is a design from late last year. Open a heavy webpage (or even Youtube) side-by-side with one of these new iPads and it won't even be close.

    I guess if the only thing you do is watch videos, then the AMOLED screen might outweigh all the speed advantages of the iPad, but it's not like the iPad has a bad screen by any means.
  • risa2000 - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    Actually, Tab S2 (do not know about the later models) is the only tablet with AMOLED panel with full RGB stripe. This alone can outweigh the mediocre SoC or the Samsung non-updating policy.
  • dudedud - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    Didnt a RGB amoled suffered from faster burn-in than "traditional" pentile? Pretty sure that was the reason nobody tried that stripe anymore.
  • LiverpoolFC5903 - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - link

    Browsing on Safari and Safari derived browsers is not a great experience at all by any means. Only webkit based options are allowed which blows.

    Would take a mid range android tablet over an ipad with a highly restrictive OS like iOS. Come back to me when I can do emulators, attach peripherals through USB OTG, have pointer support, use non webkit browsers, install apps from external sources, Attach SD cards, Copy and paste files directly on an Ipad...
  • cfenton - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - link

    What's wrong with Safari? I mean, I prefer Firefox, but Safari works just fine.

    If you want to do all those things, then I guess Android would be better. I just found I very rarely wanted to do any of those things after I got an Android tablet. I have a Shield Tablet that I thought would be a cool emulation device, but it is so slow even moving through the UI that I never bother. Same with hooking it up to a TV, yeah, it works, but I have six other things that do it better.
  • Oliseo - Thursday, June 20, 2019 - link

    Hi, you said come back to you when you can use emulators, attach peripherals through USB OTG, have pointer support, use non webkit browsers, install apps from external sources, Attach SD cards, Copy and paste files directly on an Ipad

    Given the sorry state of Android I wouldn't want to install an app from the store itself, let alone take the risk from outside of it. And why you'd think I'd want to install a spyware browser like Chrome is beyond me.

    But the rest, I'm getting back to you...

    Didn't take long either, just a few months.
  • Aouniat - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    I'd add that Android OS on its own is enough reason for me to ditch iPads. Seriously, in 2019 iOS is still far behind compared to Android. Just give an app that blocks ads device wide on iOS (no vpns). I'd go on but the list is so long.
  • Aouniat - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    Oh yes and an easy way to install apps from outside the Apple store.
  • mdriftmeyer - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    The Force of Delusion is your right. Your lack of facts is your prerogative. My laughing at your claims about the power of Linux for a consumer product [with 20 years of Linux and 30 years of NeXT/OS X] is mine.

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