My Dilemma: iPad mini 5 or 7th Gen iPad?

My iPad mini 3 will not run iPadOS 13. It’s the end of the line. I was all set to replace my iPad mini 3 with an iPad mini 5. Then Apple announced the low cost, 7th generation iPad for $329. Whoa. Maybe it’s time to rethink.

Examining the specs for the two iPads reveals some interesting, indeed, agonizing trade-offs. First let’s look at the iPad mini 5 specs that interest me.

iPad mini 5
iPad mini 5, Image credit: Apple
  • A12 Bionic chip
  • Base storage of 64 GB
  • 2048-by-1536 resolution at 326 pixels per inch (7.9-inches diagonally)
  • Wide color display (P3)
  • True Tone display
  • No HDR video
  • Weight: 300 grams
iPad 7th gen
iPad 7th gen. Image credit: Apple

Next, here are the corresponding specs for the new, 7th generation Pad with a 10.2-inch display.

  • A10 Fusion chip
  • Base storage of 32 GB
  • 2160-by-1620-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (10.2-inches diagonally)
  • No HDR video
  • Weight: 483 grams


Clearly, the iPad mini 5, while older (released in March, 2019) has the superior CPU, storage and display specs for just US$70 more. My take is that Apple pulled out all the stops to make the 7th gen iPad as low cost as possible for education and still maintain a decent CPU baseline for developers. (The educational pricing is $299.)

The iPad mini 5’s display is actually almost 8 inches diagonally, and suits my needs for a “night stand” iPad that’s lightweight, easy to use for Kindle books and watching Netflix, and doesn’t take up a lot of room when charging.

My iPad mini 3, with an A7, took an eternity to display weather radar, and so I’m very reluctant to go with an A10. Plus 32 GB storage doesn’t cut it anymore for me, and the next step up for the iPad is 128 GB bringing the base cost to $429. A base storage of 64 GB, however, on the iPad mini 5 is just fine for its intended use.

And so… my hopes of having a larger display “night stand” iPad for a modest price have been dashed.

iPad mini 5 it shall be.

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I had a similar dilemma in that after ordering a iPad mini 5 to replace my iPad Air 1, I began to wonder if the 9.7″ iPad with 128GB (available for $329) would be a better choice. I’ve pretty much decided to stick with the mini due to it’s tech specs even though the larger screen size of the 9.7″ is often tempting.

Thanks John for the insights. I was wondering whether it would be better to get the new iPad 7th generation or upgrade to the iPad mini 5. You have convinced me that upgrading to the iPad mini 5 is the better deal.