iPad Mini 5: release date, news and rumors

Small size, big expectations

The iPad Mini 4 launched more than a year ago, back in September 2015 in fact, so we’re long overdue a new model.

Despite that, rumors of the iPad Mini 5 (or iPad Pro Mini as it might be called) are thin on the ground. But with Apple likely to launch new hardware in March 2017 we could soon see it.

In the meantime, we’re collecting all the news and rumors of what to expect, along with educated guesses based on what’s gone before.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Apple's next mini tablet
  • When is it out? Maybe March
  • What will it cost? Probably at least $399/£379/AU$569

iPad Mini 5 release date

Hottest leaks:

  • A March launch
  • A new name

There aren’t any iPad Mini 5 release date rumors yet, and with Apple’s tablet range typically getting updates in September or October we could have a while to wait.

Then again, Apple broke with tradition last year, and launched the iPad Pro 9.7 in March, which could mean we’ll see a March launch of one or more Apple tablets this year, and with the iPad Mini 4 already being over a year old that would seem more likely than waiting until the second half of the year.

But that’s if the iPad Mini 5 is coming at all. The reason it’s been so long since we’ve seen one could instead be because Apple’s killing the range off. After all, with 5.5-inch handsets like the iPhone 7 Plus there’s arguably less need for a 7.9-inch slate, and some rumors suggest that an iPad Mini 5 won’t be among Apple’s 2017 tablet line-up.

But there has been some talk of a new mini, or rather a 7.9-inch iPad Pro model, perhaps set to be called the iPad Pro Mini, so there is some hope.

And DigiTimes reported that Apple began production of its new slates (including a new iPad Mini) in December, suggesting a launch could happen in the next few months.

TechRadar’s take: We doubt Apple is done with the iPad Mini and expect to see a new model alongside the iPad Pro 2, though whether that will be in March or later in the year is less clear.

iPad Mini 5 design

Hottest leaks:

  • A 5mm thick build
  • A fingerprint scanner built into the screen

There aren’t many iPad Mini 5 design rumors, but there’s a good chance that it will have a lot in common with the iPad Mini 4, which basically means you can expect a slim metal shell.

Apple may aim to make it even slimmer and lighter than the 6.1mm thick and 299g iPad Mini 4 though, based on past form. There’s been some suggestion that Apple could even slim it down to just 5mm thick – though the source of this rumor is unclear, so we’d take it with a huge helping of salt.

Then again, it could get thicker, as Apple is rumored to be fattening up the iPad Pro 2, in order to ditch the home button and build the fingerprint scanner directly into the display.

There’s no mention of the iPad Mini 5 getting the same treatment, but with other sources suggesting it could be getting a Pro makeover it’s a possibility.

We may also see water and dust resistance added, given that Apple built the iPhone 7 to survive a splash, but arguably it’s a less useful feature on a tablet, so don’t count on it.

TechRadar’s take: We wouldn’t count on seeing the fingerprint scanner built into the screen. In fact, an overall similar design to the iPad Mini 4 is likely.

iPad Mini 5 screen

One thing we can be fairly confident of is that the iPad Mini 5 will have a 7.9-inch screen. Apple’s stuck with that resolution on all its mini slates and there’s no room for it to change much without encroaching on either the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus or the 9.7-inch iPad Pro 9.7.

It’s also likely to stay at a 1536 x 2048 resolution, given that even the larger and newer iPad Pro 9.7 has that resolution and that the iPad Mini 4’s screen is more than sharp enough.

Some things might change though, with True Tone for example being a likely addition. This automatically adjusts the color temperature of the screen depending on the ambient light and it’s a feature we’ve already seen on the iPad Pro 9.7.

Less likely but still possible is the addition of 3D Touch. That’s the pressure-sensitive tech that Apple’s packed into recent iPhones, but so far it’s been absent from the company’s tablets, and there’s no evidence that this will change with the iPad Mini 5.

iPad Mini 5 camera and battery

The iPad Mini 4 has an 8MP rear camera and a 1.2MP front-facing one, but Apple has moved on to a 12MP rear one and a 5MP front-facing one with the iPad Pro 9.7, so there’s every chance the iPad Mini 5 will match that, or even exceed it.

One possible if unlikely change is the addition of a second lens on the back, much like the iPhone 7 Plus, but with cameras being less vital to tablets we don’t expect that.

There’s no news on what size the battery will be. There’s a 5,124mAh one in the iPad Mini 4 and there’s a good chance Apple will stick with something similar, though if it further slims the slate down some battery size may be sacrificed.

iPad Mini 5 OS and power

Apple’s iPad Mini range doesn’t always have the most cutting edge chipsets, so while the iPad Pro 2 is rumored to be using the powerful A10X chip, the iPad Mini 5 may well stick with something slightly older, like the A10 Fusion from the iPhone 7 or the A9X from the iPad Pro 9.7.

And it may not get any improvement in RAM at all, as the iPad Mini 4 already has 2GB of the stuff – the same amount as the iPad Pro 9.7.

Assuming the iPad Mini 5 launches in the first half of the year it’s sure to run iOS 10, but if it doesn’t debut until the second half of the year it could run iOS 11.

iPad Mini 5 other features

There’s every chance we’ll see a range of new features on the iPad Mini 5, especially if it gets re-branded as the iPad Pro Mini.

We could for example get additional speakers for improved sound, much like the Pro range has, and a Smart Connector for attaching a keyboard. There’s also a good chance it will work with the Apple Pencil, making it more useful for digital artists.

As Apple has stuck a pressure-sensitive home button on the iPhone 7 (which vibrates rather than pushing in) there’s a good chance we’ll see that on the iPad Mini 5 as well – assuming the home button isn’t removed entirely.

iPad Mini 5 price

There aren’t any price rumors yet, but the iPad Mini 5 will likely cost at least as much as the Mini 4, meaning a starting price of around $399/£379/AU$569 for a 32GB version.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps.