Another September Apple event has been and gone, and with it, Apple has announced the 8th-generation iPad (2020). It stands as perhaps the best entry-level iPad you can buy, providing peak user-friendliness and a strong battery at an affordable price. It’s an excellent option if you want to get your hands on a new Apple tablet without breaking the bank, but it’s not the only recent iPad worth your time in this respect. The iPad Mini 5 (2019) is also another contender for the Best Budget iPad award, given it features a great screen, reliable battery life, and more-than-capable performance for a relatively modest price.
Of course, few of us are going to be buying two new iPads at the same time, so the question needs to be asked: Which is better, the iPad (2020) or the iPad Mini 5? We answer this question by putting the two Apple tablets to the test, comparing their designs, displays, performance, cameras, software, and special features.
|iPad Mini 5||iPad (2020)|
|Size||203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1mm (8.0 x 5.31 x 0.24 inches)||250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm (9.87 x 6.85 x 0.30 inches)|
|Weight||300 grams (10.59 ounces)||Wi-Fi: 490 grams (17.28 ounces)|
LTE: 495 grams (17.46 ounces)
|Screen size||7.9 inches||10.2 inches|
|Screen resolution||2048 x 1536 pixels, 4:3 ratio (324 pixels per inch)||2160 x 1620 pixels, 4:3 ratio (264 pixels per inch)|
|Operating system||iPadOS 14||iPadOS 14|
|Storage space||64GB, 256GB||32GB, 128GB|
|MicroSD card slot||No||No|
|Processor||Apple A12 Bionic||Apple A12 Bionic|
|Camera||Rear 8MP, front 7MP||Rear 8MP, front 1.2MP|
|Video||1,080p at 30 fps, 720p at 120 fps||1,080p at 30 fps, 720p at 120 fps|
|Bluetooth version||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 4.2|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, front-mounted||Yes, front-mounted|
|Battery||5,124mAh||TBC (likely 8,227mAh)|
|App marketplace||Apple App Store||Apple App Store|
|Network support||All major carriers (cellular version only)||All major carriers (cellular version only)|
|Colors||Silver, gold, Space Gray||Silver, gold, Space Gray|
|Review score||4 out of 5 stars||4 out of 5 stars|
Design, display, and durability
The iPad (2020) and iPad Mini 5 share an all-but-identical design. Unlike the more streamlined iPad Pro (2o2o), they both sport large top and bottom bezels, giving them the appearance of larger and wider iPhones from four years ago. However, despite also providing the same color options (silver, gold, and Space Gray), they differ in one obvious yet important respect: The iPad Mini 5 is considerably smaller than the iPad (2020). This makes a big difference to its usability and comfortableness in comparison to the iPad, particularly when it’s 190 grams (7 ounces) lighter than the more recent model.
As for the display, the iPad Mini 5 also takes the lead. It provides slightly fewer pixels in total than the iPad (2020) at 2048 x 1536 compared to 2160 x 1620. Nonetheless, because the Mini has a smaller 7.9-inch screen — as opposed to a 10.2-inch one — its Retina display looks noticeably sharper than the iPad’s. It also offers a laminated display, while the iPad doesn’t, something which gives the iPad a visible gap between its screen and the glass covering it. That said, if you like larger screens, you may end up being more impressed by the iPad overall.
Neither tablet is likely to be extraordinarily durable. While they’re both unsurprisingly well-built, they lack an official IP rating, so don’t go exposing them to dust or water.
This is a close round. While some people may prefer larger tablets to smaller ones, the greater comfort of the iPad Mini 5 puts it ahead, as does its superior number of pixels per inch and laminated screen.
Winner: iPad Mini 5
Performance, battery life, and charging
It’s spot-the-difference time again, as both the iPad (2020) and the iPad Mini 5 house a speedy Apple A12 Bionic chip. It may not “challenge the laws of physics” like this year’s A14 chip, but it will handle the vast majority of games and apps, including augmented reality (AR) applications. Both devices also rock 3GB of RAM, providing the A12 with enough computational bandwidth to do its thing.
There is a slight difference in terms of internal memory. The iPad (2020) starts with 32GB of ROM by default and offers 128GB for $100 extra. The iPad Mini 5, by contrast, starts with 64GB of internal storage and can be purchased with 256GB for an additional $150 (64GB will cost you $400).
Both devices also offer solid battery life, although this is one area where the new iPad takes a noticeable lead. The iPad Mini 5 accommodates a 5,124mAh battery, which will provide you with around a day of heavy use before needing a refill. With the iPad, Apple hasn’t officially disclosed the capacity, yet the seventh- and sixth-generation iPads (from 2019 and 2018) both came with an 8,227mAh cell. As such, the iPad is likely to last a few hours longer, and we found in our review that it lasted an entire workweek under light but regular usage.
This means that the iPad just about edges this round, even if its 32GB of internal memory is a little stingy.
Winner: iPad (2020)
The iPad Mini 5 and iPad (2020) both feature a single 8-megapixel rear camera, and as far as we can tell from Apple’s specs, both of these cameras work in exactly the same way. This means they have the same f/2.4 aperture, the same five-element lens, the same autofocus feature, and the same panorama and HDR capabilities. The only difference, and it’s a minor one, is that the iPad Mini 5 offers “wide color capture,” which, in theory, provides your photos with a greater palette of colors and a wider dynamic range.
As our review indicated, the iPad Mini 5 has a solid camera in its own right, and while tablets can’t really compete with smartphones, it takes very good pictures in ideal lighting. As for the iPad, it fares a little worse, and is really only useful for taking photos of documents and receipts, rather than photos of people and scenes.
The iPad Mini 5 also boasts a much more capable selfie camera. At 7MP compared to only 1.2MP, users will find that it’s much more useful, even if neither stack up against the selfie cameras you can now find on smartphones.
The iPad Mini 5 takes this round. Its selfie camera is distinctly better than the iPad’s, while its rear camera has a slight edge.
Winner: iPad Mini 5
Software and updates
While previous rounds have been close, there really is no difference when it comes to software. The iPad (2020) and iPad Mini both use iPadOS 14, which introduces a nice Scribble Feature, letting you write in any text box using the Apple Pencil. Other than that, it’s every bit as user-friendly and as intuitive as the iPadOS versions that came before it.
Both tablets will also be well-supplied with updates. Apple is usually very efficient at rolling out new OS versions to users, while it tends to support devices for longer than other manufacturers. This round is a tie, even if the iPad Mini 5 is a year older than the iPad, implying that its support might end a year earlier.
The iPad Mini 5 and the iPad (2020) both support the Apple Pencil, which is proving to be very useful for creatives, as well as for professionals who like to take handwritten notes. Needless to say, the first-generation Apple Pencil will come at an extra price ($100), although both tablets are in the same boat here, so neither loses any points. Neither iPad is compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil.
The A12 Bionic processor also enables the iPad and iPad Mini 5 to support AR apps and games. While the selection of such apps is still relatively limited, more are becoming available by the month, so this is one feature that future-proofs both devices to some degree.
It should also be remembered that the iPad Mini has one special feature the iPad doesn’t: It’s small and compact. This makes it easier to handle and easier to use. However, because some people will prefer a larger tablet, we’re going to have to declare this another tie.
The iPad Mini 5 begins at $400 for the 64GB Wi-Fi-only version and goes up to $680 for the 256GB version with Wi-Fi and cellular support. You can buy it from Apple, or from the vast majority of carriers and retailers.
The iPad (2020) starts at $329 for the 32GB Wi-Fi-only model and rises to $560 if you want 128GB of internal memory and Wi-Fi and cellular support. It’s also available from Apple and most retailers and carriers.
Overall winner: Apple iPad Mini 5
There isn’t a massive difference between the two tablets, but the iPad Mini 5 (2019) does win out over the iPad (2020). With a sharper screen, slightly better camera, more internal memory, and more user-friendly dimensions, it is a stronger tablet overall. Still, it is at least $80 more expensive than the eighth-generation iPad, which offers identical performance, the same fantastic software, and potentially better battery life. For those who want to save more money and may appreciate a slightly larger display, the newer iPad may be the better bet.