iPad Mini 4 teardown reveals a miniaturized Air 2


iPad Mini 4 teardown by iFixit
The EU wants gadgets that are easier to fix and upgrade.
Photo: iFixit

We’ve gotten our first look at the guts of the latest Apple hardware thanks to an iPad Mini 4 teardown that’s appeared online, and the new tablet from the Cupertino company is looking really familiar. But we don’t mean that in a bad way.

Repair-advise site iFixit has sacrificed one of the devices in the name of science and education, and its findings reveal that at its heart, the iPad Mini 4 is a smaller version of the upper-tier iPad Air 2. Here’s what the carnage revealed.

The speakers have gotten a similar redesign

iPad Mini 4 teardown iFixit
Meet the new-new speakers, same as the old-new speakers.
Photo: iFixit

iFixit discovered that the dual rows of speaker holes in the Mini 3 are gone, and an Air 2-esque single row of larger outputs replaces them in the Mini 4. This is likely to make up for the newer model’s 18 percent reduction in thickness over the older one, and it just looks cleaner, anyway.

It has a fully laminated screen

The iPad Mini 4 teardown discovered that this new hardware shares the screen construction of the larger Air 2. It’s fully laminated, which means that the screen itself is fully attached to the surrounding glass. This makes it (slightly) less reflective and thinner, but as iFixit says, “it’s also more expensive to fix when you drop it.” That’s because you can’t just replace the glass; the display has to come out, too.

The cables for Touch ID and the display are integrated

iPad Mini 4 Touch ID
This is what a Touch ID sensor looks like naked.
Photo: iFixit

We’re not sure what this means for functionality, but it’s another thing that the Air 2 has and the Mini 3 doesn’t. Putting these two cables together is likely a space-saving measure, however.

The battery is smaller, thinner, and single-cell

The Air 2 sports a double-cell battery, and so does the Mini 3, but the Mini 4 stands alone with its single-cell, 19.1 watt-hour, lithium-polymer battery. The Mini 3’s battery has a 24.3 watt-hour capacity, and the Air 2’s boasts 27.2. But Apple claims that the new tablet will have the same 10-hour battery life as its predecessors.

It has antennae coming out of all sides

iFixit’s teardown mentions that the Mini 4’s antennae are all over the place. Their placements are split evenly between the top (like an Air) and the bottom (like a Mini). “This is probably a space-saving measure, but maybe this Mini is secretly a flounder,” iFixit says.

It has its older sibling’s eyes

iPad Mini 4 cameras
They don’t look like much once they’re out of the iPad.
Photo: iFixit

The Mini 4 has a better rear camera (8 megapixel) than its predecessor’s 5 MP model, but it has exactly the same number of megapixels available as the Air 2. They all have the 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, however, and that’s probably all the resolution you’ll need to do Facetime.

Oh, what’s that, iPhone 6s? You have a 5 MP front camera? Well, that’s cool, I guess.

The super-technical stuff also lines up.

iFixit got deep into the Mini 4’s guts and pulled out the following details about the chips and processors running it:

    • Apple A8 Processor
    • SK Hynix H2JTDG8UD1BMR 16 GB flash
    • NXP Semiconductors 65V10 near-field communication controller
    • NXP Semiconductors LPC18B1UK (Apple M8 motion co-processor)
    • Apple 338S1213 audio codec
    • Universal Scientific Industrial 339S00045 Wi-Fi module.
    • Broadcom BCM5976C1KUB6G touchscreen controller
    • Texas Instruments 343S0583

And that’s a hell of a lot of numbers and tech-speak, but here’s what it means: The innards of the iPad Mini 4 are effectively the same as the ones inside the Air 2.

Long story short, if you’re looking to save $100, and you don’t mind a smaller screen, you’re going to get just as much power out of the Mini 4 as the Air 2. And you won’t even be missing out on the cool new features in iOS 9 like Multitasking, Picture in Picture, and Split View; Apple says it can handle those just fine.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.