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8 Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying an iPad Mini in 2023

The iPad mini has long been a fan favorite for its ultra-portable design, but as an expert in the tablet market, I‘ve been hesitant to recommend Apple‘s smallest slate as of late. Don‘t get me wrong, there‘s still a lot to like about the mighty mini. However, the current 6th generation model released in 2021 is starting to show its age compared to the rest of the iPad lineup. As much as it pains me to say it, here are eight compelling reasons to consider alternatives to the iPad mini for your next tablet purchase.

Aging specs

iPad mini 6th gen with aging A15 chip

While the A15 Bionic chip in the iPad mini is no slouch, it‘s now a generation behind Apple‘s latest and greatest silicon. The 2022 iPad Air packs the same M1 processor as the MacBook Air, which delivers up to 60% faster CPU performance and 2x faster graphics compared to the A15 according to Apple‘s own benchmarks. And the M2 chip in the newest iPad Pro is another big leap beyond that.

The iPad mini‘s 10-hour battery life, while still solid, is also starting to feel a bit dated. The 10th generation iPad and iPad Air both last up to 2 hours longer surfing the web on Wi-Fi. With no ProMotion high refresh rate display or Face ID support, the iPad mini‘s feature set is more in line with the budget 10th gen iPad than the "Pro" moniker its price tag suggests.

Cramped 8.3" display

At just 8.3 inches, the iPad mini‘s screen is great for portability but not much else. For comparison, that‘s only 20% larger than Apple‘s biggest 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max:

Device Screen Size
iPad mini 8.3"
iPhone 14 Pro Max 6.7"
iPad 10.9"
iPad Air 10.9"
iPad Pro 11-inch 11"
iPad Pro 12.9-inch 12.9"

As you can see, stepping up to the 10th gen iPad or iPad Air gets you a nearly 31% larger display with over 50% more screen real estate. Those extra inches make a big difference for everything from gaming and content creation to simply browsing the web and reading. Artists may find the iPad mini workable for quick sketches with the Apple Pencil, but anything more substantial will feel restrictive.

The mini LED displays on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and newer MacBook Pros also put the iPad mini‘s screen to shame with dramatically higher brightness (1600 vs 500 nits), richer contrast and deeper blacks. The iPad mini panel is prone to "jelly scrolling" where one side refreshes faster than the other, an annoying quirk you won‘t find on other iPads.

Limited configurations

The iPad mini is available in just two storage configurations: a paltry 64GB or 256GB. Most users will fill up the base model quickly with apps, games, photos and videos, making the upgrade to 256GB for an extra $150 feel like an upsell. Meanwhile, the identically priced 10th gen iPad starts at 64GB but offers a 256GB model for only $100 more.

If you need extra storage space, the iPad Air begins at 64GB and goes up to 256GB, while the iPad Pro can be equipped with up to 2TB of super fast SSD storage for heavy media files and downloads. The iPad mini‘s lack of configuration choices is perplexing given its "Pro" level pricing.

No Magic Keyboard support

For many users, the iPad has become a bonafide laptop replacement thanks to the excellent Magic Keyboard accessory. With its floating cantilever design, backlit keys and multi-touch trackpad, it turns the iPad Air and iPad Pro into serious productivity machines. Sadly, Apple doesn‘t make a Magic Keyboard for the iPad mini.

You can find third-party Bluetooth keyboards that will pair with the iPad mini, but they lack the elegant integration and lap-ability of the Magic Keyboard. As someone who frequently types thousands of words per week on an iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard, I can‘t imagine going back to clunky, cramped keyboard cases or worse, the iPad mini‘s tiny touch screen keyboard. If you plan to do any real typing on your tablet, the mini isn‘t it.

Not-so-budget pricing

Perhaps the biggest drawback of the iPad mini is its $499 starting price. That‘s a lot of cash to drop on aging tech with an outdated design and modest 64GB of base storage. For $50 less, the 10th generation iPad gets you:

  • Larger 10.9" Liquid Retina display
  • A14 Bionic chip (faster than iPad 9th gen)
  • 12MP ultrawide front camera with Center Stage
  • Apple Pencil (1st gen) and Smart Keyboard support
  • USB-C and 5G connectivity (Cellular models)
  • 64GB or 256GB storage options

Spending just $50 more on the iPad mini gets you a smaller screen, previous-gen processor, half the storage and no first party keyboard case. The value proposition doesn‘t make much sense from a pricing standpoint.

Tough competition

As an industry expert who has tested dozens of tablets over the years, it‘s hard for me to recommend the iPad mini when there are so many excellent alternatives at lower and higher price points. At the budget end of the spectrum, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus gives you a similar 8" HD display, 13-hour battery life, USB-C charging and Alexa hands-free for just $120. It‘s obviously not as powerful or polished as an iPad, but a solid choice for basic web browsing, reading and streaming.

In the mid-range, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 packs an 11-inch LTPS LCD display with 120Hz refresh rate, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, quad speakers, microSD expansion, S Pen stylus and optional keyboard cover into a sleek 1.1 pound chassis for $700. For a bit more, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 is a full-fledged Windows 11 tablet with Intel Core i3 processor, 128GB SSD, 1080p cameras and a built-in kickstand starting around $630 with type cover.

And we can‘t forget Apple‘s own iPads that simply offer more bang for your buck. The 10th gen iPad is a far more well-rounded pick at $449, while the iPad Air at $599 has laptop-grade power in a thin and light design. Even the older 5th gen iPad mini from 2019 with A12 chip can be found new for under $300 if you don‘t need USB-C or 5G. There are so many superior options that the current iPad mini struggles to stand out.

Dubious future

Finally, it‘s worth considering what the future holds for the iPad mini line. Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that a next generation model with a faster chip and improved display is in development for a late 2023 or early 2024 release. Given the already small market share of the iPad mini, I wouldn‘t be surprised if this ends up being the last hurrah for the diminutive tablet.

Apple‘s smallest iPad represents just 9% of overall iPad sales according to CIRP data, compared to 52% for the standard iPad, 23% for iPad Air and 16% for iPad Pro. As iPhones and Apple‘s other iPads continue getting bigger and more powerful, the need for an ultra-portable iPad is rapidly shrinking. I suspect the mini will be quietly discontinued in the next couple of years as its niche appeal wanes.

Refurb & second-hand bargains

If you‘re absolutely set on an iPad mini, there are ways to get one for less. The 6th gen model has been sporadically discounted to $400 during major sales events like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day. Opting for a Wi-Fi only model instead of adding 5G cellular saves you $150 off the bat, money better spent upgrading the 64GB of storage to 256GB if you can swing it.

Another route is buying refurbished. Apple sells certified refurbished iPad minis with a new battery, outer shell and 1-year warranty starting at $339 for the previous 5th generation and $419 for the latest 6th gen. You can also find used iPad minis in good condition on eBay, Swappa, Facebook Marketplace and other sites for well under retail cost. Just be sure to check the seller‘s ratings and return policy.

iPad mini buyer‘s guide

So who is the iPad mini still for? Here are a few user profiles that may still benefit from its pint-sized form factor:

  • Travelers, commuters and on-the-go professionals who value maximum portability and 5G connectivity
  • Kids and students who want a small, affordable tablet for learning, reading and play
  • Artists and designers looking for a digital sketchpad to replace traditional paper notebooks
  • Elderly users and anyone else who prefers a light, compact device for accessibility reasons

If you fall into one of those categories and can live with the iPad mini‘s limitations, it remains a fine, if somewhat pricey pick. But for the vast majority of tablet buyers, I recommend looking at newer and larger options. The 10th gen iPad offers more screen space and storage for the money, while the iPad Air and Pro deliver cutting edge power and features well worth their premium.


The iPad mini was once the ultimate ultraportable tablet, a unique offering in Apple‘s lineup. But in 2023, its aging specs, cramped display and high price tag make it a tough sell compared to Apple‘s other iPads and the wider tablet market. Unless portability is your absolute top priority, there are simply better choices for most users‘ needs and budgets.

I still have a soft spot for the iPad mini, but in its current form it feels more like an iPod touch than a cutting edge computing device. Here‘s hoping Apple gives it one last hurrah with an M-series processor and ProMotion display before sunsetting the line for good. But for now, I‘d steer clear of the iPad mini unless you find a killer deal – and even then, consider saving up for an iPad Air instead.