Day One with the iPad Mini 5

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I got the new Mini 5 unboxed and set it up to load my backup yesterday before bed so it would be ready to roll today. When I got up this morning, it was fully restored and my first gen Apple Pencil was charged and ready.

A little history

It has been a LONG time since I have used an iPad Mini. We still have a nearly seven year old first gen model in our house that is somehow still hanging on to life despite a severely busted up screen. My father, who lives next door, also has one. Between the two, I have occasionally picked one up to help out with problems and questions, but I haven’t used a Mini for myself in several years.

I bought the original iPad Mini as soon as it came out in late 2012. I loved the iPad 2, but was less enamored of the thicker and heavier iPad 3 I had at the time and its battery life challenges. I still wasn’t completely sure about the Mini until I got my hands on one, but I quickly fell in love with the newfound portability, sold my 3 and picked one up.

It felt like the perfect device at first. However, I was already into using a Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad 2 and 3 for writing and work tasks at this point. While I found the Mini to be perfect for content consumption, it was definitely lacking when it came to production and helping me out at work. As such, I gradually lost interest over the course of the year I spent with it. When the iPad Air was announced, I immediately made the switch back to the larger screen tablet and never looked back. My Dad ended up with my old Mini and my wife’s went to the kids when she also tired of using it if favor of he iPhone.

Starting fresh

With that little bit of history taken into account, I started off the morning today reading and watching videos on the iPad Mini. The first thing I took note of is just how slim, sleek and light the device is. Yes, the big bezels are dated. I won’t dispute that. However, coming from a 12.9″ Pro, this is an entirely different experience. It is so light and easy to carry around and use. While I still prefer the Pro’s stereo speakers and large screen for video, it is hard to beat the Mini for reading and sheer portability.

The Mini I used years ago was also a pale shadow of what the Mini 5 is today. It may look the same, but the new version is FAR more powerful. The Retina screen is many times better. The A12 makes everything I’ve tried so far work as smooth as silk. TouchID may seem dated next to Face ID, but it far better than entering a passcode all the time. Now you also have Apple Pencil support, which is big step forward.

I understand that owners of more recent iPad Minis will likely have a different perspective. This hardware will seem far more familiar to them, as there are only a handful of differences between the Mini 4 and 5. However, there will be other people who come back to the device after some time away, and their experience will be closer to mine.

Handing it over

At this point, my daughter took over. She has been using the beat up old iPad Mini in our house for several months now. The thing is, she has access to an iPhone 5S and an 8′ Amazon Fire tablet. Despite its drawbacks, she is using the OG Mini by choice because she likes the size and prefers iOS. Yes, even an old and outdated version of iOS.

She was in love as soon as she picked the new iPad Mini 5 up. My daughter loves to draw and has borrowed my Pro on occasion to use apps like Procreate, Now she can use it on a device that she will soon call her own. I won’t lie. When I bought this iPad to review, I knew it was really for her. It was the perfect choice to foster here creativity. She spent hours drawing in several apps and then playing with GarageBand. She is in her school’s band program, so she is a budding musician, as well. It was fun seeing her cut loose on a device that can handle the latest apps and let her be as creative as she wants to be.

Calling it a day

That’s all for the new Mini for today. It still isn’t the device for me today, just as it wasn’t back in 2012. However, I won’t lie- the fact that it can serve as a digital notepad is pretty intriguing. It may not be the iPad for me, but I have to acknowledge how good it is as a content consumption device and a portable drawing pad. It also feels extremely good in the hand. But that’s where my interest ends.

My daughter is a different story. This is definitely the iPad for her. This is the reason that Apple having four different iPad classes is a good thing. The base model iPad that is perfect for my oldest son isn’t as good of a fit for her. It’s bigger and heavier and isn’t as portable. She loves the features of my Pro, but really doesn’t like how big it is and the price isn’t a fit for her. She looked at the new Air and also dismissed it based on size. The Mini is absolutely her Goldilocks iPad. The size, features and price point are all spot on. So for anyone out there like my daughter, this new iPad Mini really is the perfect iPad.


James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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