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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  • Sttm - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    I don't know its a real trade off for me. The Samsung S5E, has a better design and an AMOLED screen, which I would greatly prefer. But it has that midrange SoC... and only costs $100 less.
  • patel21 - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    Wxactly my thoughts. Samsung S5E has best of both worlds. A Midrange SoC, Great Samoled Screen and Android at budget
  • Sttm - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    Id rather have more power and pay more. I'd instantly buy a $499 S5S Tablet with Snapdragon 855.
  • mukiex - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    A big gamechanger for me was in either iOS 11 or 12, when they added a native API for decoding H264/H265. Apple has some inside kind of dynamic hybrid decoder or something, because I've yet to put a video in front of it that it can't handle. Hi10p, H265 10-bit, etc. MrMC 'n VLC play pretty much anything I throw at them provided the Wi-fi can hold up. And this is on the original iPad Pro which had the A10X 'n my iPhone X w/ a bog-standard A11. I'd imagine that the new mini/Air handle that stuff even better.
  • Icehawk - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    Yup, HEVC is why I upgraded to a Pro (1st gen) needed the muscle to play them
  • lilo777 - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - link

    As I understand, all video decoders are implemented using special hardware and have nothing to do with CPU power. From Wikipedia: On February 29, 2012, at the 2012 Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm demonstrated a HEVC decoder running on an Android tablet, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor running at 1.5 GHz, showing H.264/MPEG-4 AVC and HEVC versions of the same video content playing side by side.[1] In this demonstration HEVC reportedly showed almost a 50% bit rate reduction compared with H.264/MPEG-4 AVC.

    Apparently this was the first hardware that implemented HEVC decoder. Apple added support for H.265 two years later in 2014.
  • MasterTactician - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    This implies the Wi-Fi only model has GPS. Is that accurate?
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

  • MasterTactician - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    Doesn’t seem to be so going by the tech specs page:
    All models
    Digital compass
    iBeacon microlocation
    Wi-Fi + Cellular models
    Assisted GPS, GLONASS
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, March 18, 2019 - link

    The cellular models are called "WiFi + Cellular", it's not actually WiFi and cellular models. See the cellular connectivity on the same tech spec page.

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