The future of iPad mini?

Mad Mac Maniac

macrumors 601
Original poster
After the release of the new iPad (2017), the iPad mini finds itself in a bit of an odd place. It's no longer the cheapest iPad.

If Apple were planning on continuing the 7.9" line I would have expected them to receive the same treatment the Air 2 did. Basically occupy the body/screen of the mini 3, upgrade to the A9, drop the "mini" moniker, and occupy the cheapest price point (probably $299). This should have been an easy thing to do.

Since this did not occur I think Apple is likely planning on phasing it out. It wouldn't make sense to hold off a minor thing like this for any iPad Pro 2 event. It's all just quite odd...
 

MacDarcy

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Jul 21, 2011
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I've heard rumors that Apple is phasing the mini out...but I've also heard recent rumors that a Pro version of the mini will be announced alongside the 10.5" & 12.9" iPad pros. I currently use the iPad mini 2 and would like to upgrade to a Pro version, so I hope this is true. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

But it might be awhile. Some people say an April iPad Pro event will still happen...but most are now saying it won't be until WWDC in June, or even later this fall when Apple finally announces new iPad pros.
 
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Mad Mac Maniac

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It would be very odd for the mini to get a pro update without an update to the "lower end" model. And it would also be weird to get a lower end model update in addition to the pro update, simply because it wouldn't make sense to NOT have released it now especially when they did revisions to the mini line (removing the 2 and increasing the 4's storage).
 

JPack

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Mar 27, 2017
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The fact that there are virtually no new 7 or 8" tablets from the Android or Windows side tells you the fate of the iPad mini.

The iPad Pro is aimed at business users and content creators. It's difficult to make a business case for a 7.9" tablet when hardly anyone is buying them.
 

jonnyb098

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Nov 16, 2010
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I highly doubt there will be a iPad mini pro...or whatever they'd call it. The 7.9 will be phased out but for now the mini 4 and iPad 9.7 will be the lower end cheap iPads under $400. Smaller screens, entry level. The pro will be 10.5 and 12.9. And to be honest this will be the most cohesive iPad lineup in years. The vast majority of people that just surf the web and watch videos don't need all the benefits of the Pro models and these iPads have more than enough horsepower to last a few years (proven by all the old iPads still in use). The pro will be reserved for power users of tablets who want every possible feature that can be thrown at them. Yes they may have sounded silly to some but that's the world we live in now when it comes to iPads.
 

ApfelKuchen

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Yeah, there's been some "creative destruction" going on. People who carried both a smaller iPhone and a Mini can now carry just an iPhone Plus. But the Mini fills a really nice set of niches that don't seem likely to go away anytime soon. The Mini has all but replaced the iPod Touch for kids. They're also widely used in schools (lighter and easier for smaller kids to handle), and in restaurants (menus and order-taking systems on 9.7" iPads are less frequently seen), and in the hands of retail clerks, field service workers, and the like - in part due to the lower price, in part because they're easier to handle, in part for their smaller footprint at point-of-purchase. In most of those applications, there's no need to buy a "Plus" iPhone at more than twice the price.

I expect there will be more Minis in our future, but my crystal ball is no better than any other.

I don't expect to see a Mini-Pro (though it might mean more work for Verne Troyer if there was). As I posted elsewhere, I think Apple will distinguish the "standard" and "Pro" lines by the size of the desktop - 2048 x 1536 for the standard iPads, 2732 x 2048 for the Pros "whose work demands a bigger canvas." 2732 x 2048 on a 7.9" iPad (approx. 400 PPI) might be a bit too small.
 
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profets

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Definitely odd how of all iPads the mini is now the only one with base (and only option) of 128GB. And priced above the iPad 9.7".

I had mentioned this in another thread when trying to think of all the possible outcomes to the mini:

1) let it sit stale like they do with the iPod touch (sadly I think this is what they're going to do)
2) update it to the A9 or A10, no design change and leave it as is for another 2 years (I wouldn't mind this)
3) give it the iPad 9.7" treatment - back to the iPad mini 2 dimensions, drop the shine on the chamfered edge, A9 SoC, and maybe hit a $199/249 price point calling it just 'iPad' like the 9.7. (This would result in the cleanest lineup I think - two choices of iPad and two choices of iPad Pro. Also I think could potentially drive a lot of sales going into the holiday with a $199 iPad option).
4) discontinue the mini line entirely (could be a possibility since they really didn't give it any change when they updated the 9.7" iPad, though given how they still sell iPods that can't even access Music I don't think they'll axe it)
5) give it the iPad Pro treatment, and it gets the new design that the upcoming 9.7 and 12.9 inch Pros get along with all new features. Definitely a possibility. Heck maybe even a decent one given that they've positioned the mini 4 to be a premium product compared to the iPad 9.7".

I think 1 or 2 is most likely. 3 would be nice I think, as it would really clean the line up: choose iPad or iPad Pro, and then choose your screen size.
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Yeah, there's been some "creative destruction" going on. People who carried both a smaller iPhone and a Mini can now carry just an iPhone Plus. But the Mini fills a really nice set of niches that don't seem likely to go away anytime soon. The Mini has all but replaced the iPod Touch for kids. They're also widely used in schools (lighter and easier for smaller kids to handle), and in restaurants (menus and order-taking systems on 9.7" iPads are less frequently seen), and in the hands of retail clerks, field service workers, and the like - in part due to the lower price, in part because they're easier to handle, in part for their smaller footprint at point-of-purchase. In most of those applications, there's no need to buy a "Plus" iPhone at more than twice the price.

I expect there will be more Minis in our future, but my crystal ball is no better than any other.

I don't expect to see a Mini-Pro (though it might mean more work for Verne Troyer if there was). As I posted elsewhere, I think Apple will distinguish the "standard" and "Pro" lines by the size of the desktop - 2048 x 1536 for the standard iPads, 2732 x 2048 for the Pros "whose work demands a bigger canvas." 2732 x 2048 on a 7.9" iPad (approx. 400 PPI) might be a bit too small.
I fully agree with this. I've thought about that and mentioned it several times too. Seems like an excellent way to differentiate between Pro and non-Pro.
 
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Loge

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Jun 24, 2004
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Definitely odd how of all iPads the mini is now the only one with base (and only option) of 128GB. And priced above the iPad 9.7".
I expect it's not being positioned purely as "entry-level" since for some it is the right screen size, and they should provide a decent amount of storage, since you can't upgrade to anything else that isn't larger.

I agree it does make it unlikely now they will add the Pro treatment; that was their opportunity to do it and it didn't happen.
 

sracer

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Apr 9, 2010
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Prescott Valley, AZ
After the release of the new iPad (2017), the iPad mini finds itself in a bit of an odd place. It's no longer the cheapest iPad.

If Apple were planning on continuing the 7.9" line I would have expected them to receive the same treatment the Air 2 did. Basically occupy the body/screen of the mini 3, upgrade to the A9, drop the "mini" moniker, and occupy the cheapest price point (probably $299). This should have been an easy thing to do.

Since this did not occur I think Apple is likely planning on phasing it out. It wouldn't make sense to hold off a minor thing like this for any iPad Pro 2 event. It's all just quite odd...
I would NOT expect them to treat the 7.9 iPad the same. Just as the 12.9 iPP is a "niche" product, so is the 7.9. I would expect Apple to soon drop the mini 4 (I have one to complement my 12.9 Pro...great!) and produce a 7.9 Pro.
 

profets

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Mar 18, 2009
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I expect it's not being positioned purely as "entry-level" since for some it is the right screen size, and they should provide a decent amount of storage, since you can't upgrade to anything else that isn't larger.

I agree it does make it unlikely now they will add the Pro treatment; that was their opportunity to do it and it didn't happen.
Yeah, I guess what's odd is that they've always treated bigger as 'better' in the iPad line up. But now kind of aren't. Though a 128GB iPad 9.7" is more expensive than the mini 4 128GB.
 

hanser

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Aug 29, 2013
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I think this is a marketing test: To see, if people buy the mini because of the cheaper price or the smaller form factor, they eliminated the price as a possible reason.
 

RoadWarrior56

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Oct 18, 2014
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I got a Mini 1 32G for Christmas 2014 right after they came out and I filled it up by the fall of '14. In 2014 I gave the original Mini to my daughter and replaced it with a Mini Retina (Mini 2) with 64G, and I have now filled it up. I was holding out for a Mini 5 or Mini Pro, but since neither was released (nor do I think they will soon, if ever), I am going to buy a Mini 4 with 128G and give the Mini 2 to my dad. I absolutely love the Mini form factor and I don't want a larger unit. Although they eliminated the smaller capacity Mini, Apple effectively cut the price for the 128G unit by $100. I am going to buy the Mini 4 the storage and better screen and as a hedge in case the Mini is discontinued within the next 1-2 years.
 
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joeblow7777

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Sep 7, 2010
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I've heard rumors that Apple is phasing the mini out...but I've also heard recent rumors that a Pro version of the mini will be announced alongside the 10.5" & 12.9" iPad pros. I currently use the iPad mini 2 and would like to upgrade to a Pro version, so I hope this is true. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

But it might be awhile. Some people say an April iPad Pro event will still happen...but most are now saying it won't be until WWDC in June, or even later this fall when Apple finally announces new iPad pros.
Honestly, I've been following iPad mini news (or lack thereof) pretty closely and all there has been is guesses, not even rumours. Every possibility from the Mini being discontinued to a Mini Pro, and everything in between, has been speculated with no solid evidence supporting any of them.
 
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adam9c1

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May 2, 2012
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I believe the reason the "iPad" is the cheap device is to compete with Chromebooks in the EDU market.
For standardized testing some of the requirements are 9.5 (10" class) screen and physically connected keyboard (not wireless). The new case meets that requirement.

It's hard to say if they'll bring in the Pro features to the Mini or pretty much keep it as it is now.
 

Mad Mac Maniac

macrumors 601
Original poster
1) let it sit stale like they do with the iPod touch (sadly I think this is what they're going to do)
2) update it to the A9 or A10, no design change and leave it as is for another 2 years (I wouldn't mind this)
3) give it the iPad 9.7" treatment - back to the iPad mini 2 dimensions, drop the shine on the chamfered edge, A9 SoC, and maybe hit a $199/249 price point calling it just 'iPad' like the 9.7. (This would result in the cleanest lineup I think - two choices of iPad and two choices of iPad Pro. Also I think could potentially drive a lot of sales going into the holiday with a $199 iPad option).
4) discontinue the mini line entirely (could be a possibility since they really didn't give it any change when they updated the 9.7" iPad, though given how they still sell iPods that can't even access Music I don't think they'll axe it)
5) give it the iPad Pro treatment, and it gets the new design that the upcoming 9.7 and 12.9 inch Pros get along with all new features. Definitely a possibility. Heck maybe even a decent one given that they've positioned the mini 4 to be a premium product compared to the iPad 9.7".

I think 1 or 2 is most likely. 3 would be nice I think, as it would really clean the line up: choose iPad or iPad Pro, and then choose your screen size.

Good analysis. I think the most logical sense would have been option 3, but since they didn't do that along with the 9.7" I think that option 1 is the most likely for the foreseeable future.

That being said, I could easily see them doing some minor form of pro treatment for it. Because I think Apple Pencil would be great for the mini. But that would complicate things. Would they do a cheap version and a pro? Do they do a middle ground model which has more features than the iPad, less than the iPad Pro, but gets pencil support? This would make a little bit of sense for keeping the mini in the $400 ballpark. I could maybe see an A9X iPad mini with pencil support starting at $400 in the fall. Of course that makes the product lines more complicated.
 
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profets

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Good analysis. I think the most logical sense would have been option 3, but since they didn't do that along with the 9.7" I think that option 1 is the most likely for the foreseeable future.

That being said, I could easily see them doing some minor form of pro treatment for it. Because I think Apple Pencil would be great for the mini. But that would complicate things. Would they do a cheap version and a pro? Do they do a middle ground model which has more features than the iPad, less than the iPad Pro, but gets pencil support? This would make a little bit of sense for keeping the mini in the $400 ballpark. I could maybe see an A9X iPad mini with pencil support starting at $400 in the fall. Of course that makes the product lines more complicated.
I keep wondering about that option 3. If they were going to do it - would they have done it now? Or will they do it in the future at one point? Did they maybe not do it because they didn't want to take attention away from a $329 iPad 9.7"?

She kind of Pro treatment would be interesting. I think a lot of people would love to have Pencil support on the mini size. But the smart connector I think would be tough to support a keyboard that small. It also would complicate the product lines like you say. Interesting though how the 12.9" Pro, 9.7" Pro and mini 4 are currently lined up at 799, 599 and 399. I have a funny feeling about the mini 4 slotting into a potential 7.9" Pro at that spot, but given the product numbers that have been seen in web logs (iPad 7,1 , 7,2 , 7,3 and 7,4) I don't think it's going to happen unfortunately.
 

DNichter

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Apr 27, 2015
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Honestly, I think that would be the cleanest and most optimal lineup.
I agree. I am hoping they can get there. Even from a pricing standpoint, I'd love to see $299, $399, $499, and $599 respectively for 128GB minimum, add $100 for 256GB. They need to get back to a standard lineup across all their product lines.
 
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0989383

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I think it'll be phased out. But who knows when? After all you can still buy an iPod today.
 

profets

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Mar 18, 2009
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I agree. I am hoping they can get there. Even from a pricing standpoint, I'd love to see $299, $399, $499, and $599 respectively for 128GB minimum, add $100 for 256GB. They need to get back to a standard lineup across all their product lines.
Fully agree. Feels like its been years of changing names and products and they've never fully gotten to a simple product line (for any of their products).

Every single time I'm in an Apple Store, without fail I happen to catch a few walk in customers who don't know about the products and are asking for help with iPads. The employees when describing the line up end up confusing customers most of the time.

I think it'll be phased out. But who knows when? After all you can still buy an iPod today.
That's the thing, even if they don't want to update it, I bet they'll let it linger forever like they do with so many other products. I mean, iPod nano and shuffle, need iTunes with manual syncing and can't access Music. I can't imagine they sell much of those at this point.
 
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JPack

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Mar 27, 2017
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Reasons Apple won't introduce iPad mini Pro:
- Can't realistically multitask, attach a keyboard, or draw on 7.9" surface.
- Very few commercial customers demand such a product.
- Pro 12.9" and Pro 9.7" aren't selling well; niche Pro 7.9" tablet won't do any better.

Reasons Apple won't introduce iPad mini refresh:
- Low margins. Apple is all about high margins and the mini is low margin. There's a reason why Apple dropped the 32GB mini 4 instead of slashing it down to $279.
- Bezel-less tech is almost here. A 9" display can fit in a mini chassis.
 

Moccasin

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Mar 21, 2011
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It'd be sad to see the Mini go. I love the small size which makes it a much handier commuting device - it can even fit in a jacket pocket if required (e.g. If I'm going out after work and don't want my bag with me). T

The Mini is however a little small for reading digital magazines & watching Netflix or BBC iPlayer. I'd love for them to bring out a bezel-less mini with larger screen but have low expectations of that ever happening. The iPhone Plus is too big for me as a phone and too small as a media consumption device so I'd have to consider a 10.5 iPad Pro if the Mini is discontinued, but would have to think long and hard before doing so.

The idea that the entry point Mini has been priced as a market testing experiment is intriguing - if Mini sales hold up despite the higher cost than the new 9.7 iPad, that may encourage Apple to consider developing it further.
 
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