Apple iOS 9 is the iPad mini 4’s platform du jour, and powered by the dual-core A8 processor it exhibits substantially improved performance over earlier models. Although not as quick as the A8X-enabled iPad Air 2, the 4’s responsiveness to browsing, gaming and video playing gives the Air 2 a respectable run for its money.
Aside from color and storage options, there are two models of iPad mini 4 to choose from: the Wi-Fi only version, and the Wi-Fi plus cellular which comes at added cost but frees you up from having to be tied to an active data connection. Both models share 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and speeds as high as 866 Mbps on Wi-Fi and 150 Mbps on LTE. As with previous models, the mini 4 comes with Nano-SIM that’s also Apple SIM compatible, meaning you aren’t limited to signing up to any particular cellular service. This is a convenient feature that makes it possible for you to change carriers without having to change out to a new SIM card every time.
Although it’s not likely a professional photographer would want to rely on his or her iPad mini to take snapshots or shoot video, that doesn’t mean the everyday lay person doesn’t demand high quality in both areas. The iPad mini 4 kicks it up a notch for average users with the inclusion of an iSight camera capable of 8MP photos, which is a nice step up from the iPad mini 2 and 3’s 5MP capability. All other camera features remain the same as with previous designs, with the notable exception of burst mode photography. Video recording is still 1080p HD video quality, including video stabilization and 3x digital zoom, but this time Apple has included stabilization in its time-lapse shooting and the ability to record video in slow motion. There’s still no support for continuous autofocus, which means moving video shots will require a free hand to tap the screen for refocusing. The iPad mini 4’s front-facing FaceTime HD camera is also the same as previous versions, but this time also includes burst mode.
Considering that extensive battery life is the norm for iPads, it’s not surprising that the iPad mini 4 doesn’t come with even greater longevity – it’s also not a deal-killer, as you’d be hard pressed to find a tablet device that lasts quite as long on a single charge. According to Apple, the iPad mini 4 is rated for up to 10 hours of web browsing, video and music when dialed into Wi-Fi. Battery life is a bit lower on a cellular data network, but you still get a maximum of 9 hours before having to recharge.
Price and Availability
The iPad mini 4 is available directly from Apple starting at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version and can run as high as $729 with all the bells and whistles. Additional storage options include 64GB or 128GB. Wi-Fi plus cellular will run you an extra $130.