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iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Which should you buy?

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Which should you buy?
(Image credit: Future)

The iPad Mini 6 just made its debut, starting at just $499, but how does that compare to the slightly older and more expensive iPad Air 4? It’s actually not as cut and dry as you might think.

There are a few things to think about apart from price, namely the performance and display. And if you’re someone who likes to take photos on their iPad, then you’ll want to know what the new iPad Mini 6 has to offer.

At $599, the iPad Air 4 has plenty under the hood, but it might not be enough to justify spending an extra $100 over the iPad Mini 6 depending on your needs. Based on what you want, each device will be more beneficial to you, but there’s an overall winner here no matter how you slice it.

Here’s how the iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4 compare.

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4
iPad Mini 6iPad Air 4
Starting price$499$599
Display8.3-inch, Liquid Retina (2266 x 1488, 60Hz, 326 ppi, 500 nits)10.9-inch, Liquid Retina (2360 x 1640, 60Hz, 264 ppi, 500 nits)
CPUApple A15 BionicApple A14 Bionic
StorageStarts at 64GBStarts at 64GB
Rear camera12MP f/1.8 (Wide-angle)12MP f/1.8 (Wide-angle)
Front camera12MP f/2.4 (ultra-wide)7MP ƒ/2.2
Battery size9 - 10 hours10:32
ColorsSpace Gray, Pink, Purple, StarlightSilver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, Green, Sky Blue
Size7.69 x 5.3 x 0.25 inches9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches
Weight10.3 ounces16 ounces

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Price and value

If you’re thinking about getting an iPad Mini 6 over the iPad Air 4, you’ve already saved $100. For $499, you’d get an Apple A15 Bionic CPU, 64GB of storage, a front and rear 12MP camera and a 8.3-inch, 2266 x 1488 display packed in a thin and light design. The most expensive model costs $799, which comes with 256GB of storage and WiFi + Cellular.

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Which should you buy?

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Let’s see what you get if you toss in an extra $100. For $599, you can get the iPad Air 4, which comes with an Apple A14 Bionic CPU, 64GB of storage, a rear 12MP camera, a front 7MP camera and a 10.9-inch, 2360 x 1640 display stuffed in a larger and heavier chassis. The most expensive model costs $879, which comes with 256GB of storage and WiFi + Cellular.

Unfortunately, you’re actually losing out on some stuff when you spend more money, and the only thing you’re really gaining is a larger screen. As long as you don’t mind a slightly smaller screen, the iPad Mini 6 100% has better value.

Winner: iPad Mini 6

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Design

Since these are both sleek, aluminum iPads, they're going to look pretty identical in their core design, but there are some things to consider when you’re making your final choice.

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Which should you buy?

(Image credit: Apple)

First thing is the colors. The iPad Mini 6 features Space Gray, Pink, Purple and Starlight, while the iPad Air 4 lets you choose between Silver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, Green and Sky Blue. Technically, the iPad Air 4 has more colors, but the iPad Mini 6 sports colors that aren’t available on the Air. However, as far as the overall quality of colors, I have to give it to the iPad Air. It not only covers the basics (Silver and Space Gray), but it sort of covers three primary colors: Red (Rose Gold), Green, and Blue (Sky Blue). Also, my favorite color is blue.

However, in terms of size and weight, I have to give it to the iPad Mini 6. The iPad Mini 6 comes in at 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.25 inches and 10.3 ounces, knocking out the iPad Air 4, which clocks in at 9.7 x 7 x 0.24 inches and 16 ounces. The smaller it is, the more portable it is, and that’s what matters the most if you’re travelling.

Overall, size is king, and I don’t mind that sleek Purple, so the iPad Mini 6 wins.

Winner: iPad Mini 6

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Display

You might be thinking, “the iPad Air 4 has a bigger screen, so its display should be better.” Well, it gets a little iffy there, as there are a number of factors to consider.

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Which should you buy?

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

First, let's look at the size. Yes, the iPad Air 4 has more viewing space thanks to its 10.9-inch display, and the iPad Mini 6 is shrunk down to 8.3 inches, sacrificing its display for an elite portable size.

However, in terms of resolution, the difference is negligible. The iPad Air 4 sports a 2360 x 1640 display, while the iPad Mini 6 rocks a 2266 x 1488 panel. Does losing 100 to 200 pixels make much of a difference? Maybe. But what’s more important here is looking at the pixels per inch on the display. The iPad Mini 6’s screen has 326ppi, whereas the iPas Air 4 has only 264ppi. 

So why does that matter? Well, have you ever stretched out a 1080p image before? It gets really blurry. The same concept is applied here. Therefore, the iPad Mini 6 will technically look sharper than the iPad Air 4 despite the Air boasting superior resolution. Additionally, while both displays boast 500 nits of brightness, the iPad Mini 6 will naturally have a more uniform brightness thanks to its smaller size.

The real decision here is where you prefer a wider viewing space or a sharper display. Regardless, the content is going to look great, but I know that I prefer more pixels packed into smaller space.

Winner: iPad Mini 6

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Performance

While we haven’t tested the iPad Mini 6, it’s more than likely going to surpass the iPad Air 4 in performance, as the former rocks an Apple A15 Bionic CPU and the latter still has a Apple A14 Bionic CPU. Additionally, you’ll get 5G connectivity with the iPad Mini 6, whereas you’re stuck with 4G in the Air 4.

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Which should you buy?

(Image credit: Apple)

The A14 Bionic CPU scored 4,262 on the Geekbench 5 overall performance test. We don’t anticipate the A15 Bionic CPU to blow the A14 out of the sky, but there will be an incremental improvement at the very least. We’ll find out more when we’re able to benchmark it.

The iPad Air 4 needed only 27 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution after applying a color filter and transition in the Adobe Rush app. We likely won’t see a drastic difference on the A15. It’ll maybe save you a couple of seconds, but on big projects, the difference could be significant.

However, the biggest advantage of the A15 Bionic chip is its 16-core neural engine, which enhances on-device artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. What does that even mean? Well, it essentially makes the machine smarter, capable of increasing workloads and identifying information, like faces in photos or Face ID. We don’t know the full extent of how this’ll increase (if it does) raw performance, but we’re excited to find out.

Winner: iPad Mini 6

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Battery life

According to Apple, both the iPad Mini 6 and iPad Air 4 are rated for the same battery life.

The iPad Air 4 lasted 10 hours and 29 minutes on our battery test. It’s possible that the iPad Mini 6 might last a little longer thanks to its smaller display, but we won’t really know until we get it into our lab, so for now we’ll call it a tie.

Winner: Tie

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Cameras

If you’re thinking about using an iPad as your main driver for photography, then this’ll be an easy choice.

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4: Which should you buy?

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The iPad Mini 6 sports a 12MP ƒ/1.8 (Wide-angle) rear camera and a 12MP ƒ/2.4 (ultra-wide) front camera. It can shoot in 4K, recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, and features slow motion video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps. It also supports 720p HD video recording at 30 fps and Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p). The Mini also has a Quad-LED True Tone flash.

Meanwhile, the iPad Air 4 rocks a 12MP ƒ/1.8 (Wide-angle) rear camera and a 7MP ƒ/2.2 front camera. It can shoot in 4K, recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps, and features slow motion video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps. It also supports Cinematic video stabilization, but only for 1080p and 720p.

In specs alone, the iPad Mini 6 easily takes the win when it comes to cameras. And that’s not counting all of the extra work that the A15 will be doing for the iPad Mini 6.

Winner: iPad Mini 6

Overall winner: iPad Mini 6

You can talk about how the iPad Air 4 has a bigger display all day, but regardless, the iPad Mini 6 wins in nearly every facet when you compare the two. The iPad Mini 6 has the better design thanks to its light and portable chassis, faster performance from its next-gen chipset, and higher-res cameras.

Even when you look at the display, sure the Air 4 is bigger, but the Mini 6 has a sharper display due to its higher pixels per inch, creating a more pleasurable viewing experience despite its smaller screen.

Unless you desperately want a bigger display, do yourself a favor: save $100 and go with the iPad Mini 6.

Rami Tabari

Rami Tabari is a Senior Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.