Today, Bloomberg posted an updated story on what to expect from the upcoming (though still officially unannounced) autumn Apple event. And while many things, like the announcement of three new iPhones with 5.8-, 6.1-, and 6.5-inch screens and designs based on the iPhone X have long been rumoured, there was another titbit that piqued my interest: Once again, it seems, the iPad Mini is missing.
Originally released in 2015, the most recent iPad Mini, the iPad Mini 4, wasn’t exactly a technical marvel even when it was new, because, on the inside, it was basically a smaller iPad Air 2. Even so, the iPad Mini 4's 7.9-inch screen and more travel-friendly dimensions made it a favourite for many, especially those who enjoyed reading comic books on the go, as its high-res colour screen and strong battery life made it a better option than e-readers or simply using your phone.
But since its debut, it seems like Apple has completely forgotten about the iPad Mini. The only update the entire line has gotten in the last three years is the discontinuation of its 32GB and 64GB storage options. And if you were to buy an iPad Mini today, it would still have the same A8 processor it had at launch in 2015, which is actually even older than it seems since the A8 was first introduced on the iPhone 6 in the autumn of 2014. That means the most up-to-date iPad Mini is essentially running four-year-old components, despite Apple having released six new A-series processors between 2014 and now.
What seems even more egregious is that, right now, an iPad Mini 4 costs £400—£80 more than the recently refreshed £320 iPad, which Apple updated in March with new guts and Apple Pencil support. Now to be fair to the Mini, its price does include 128GB of storage standard, while a base iPad (before upgrades) only sports 32GB. But if you bump an iPad up to 128GB, it costs the same as an iPad Mini 4 for the same amount of storage and way better specs.
So at this point, I have to ask: Is the iPad Mini effectively dead? Without any meaningful improvements in nearly three years, it seems like the more portable iPad has joined the likes of the MacBook Air, the Mac Mini, and potentially the iPhone SE as products that Apple continues to sell but doesn’t actually seem to give a shit about.
However, before we damn this behaviour as more than Apple’s typical indifference to non-iPhone products, let’s consider for a moment that the iPad Mini’s demise makes perfect sense.
Between smartphone displays continuing to get bigger and reportedly reduced bezels on those upcoming iPhones, the gap between Apple’s biggest handset and the standard iPad is going to shrink even more. That means iPad Mini’s status as an all-around ‘tweener is even more precarious than before, and perhaps the slow of the death iPad Mini 4 merely marks the end of an era where there simply isn’t a demand for small tablets, even ones with an already carved-out niche.
So, let me pose one more question to you: If the iPad Mini disappears, will you really miss it?