If you’re in the market for a new iPhone or iPad, deciding which model to buy just got a little bit easier. Apple has finally discontinued the last iOS device without its high-resolution Retina display, which means that the screen technology is one fewer aspect you’ll need to compare when choosing between different models.
Jacob Kastrenakes reports for The Verge that Apple has stopped selling the original iPad mini, a change first spotted by Jeremy Horwitz at 9to5Mac. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the discontinuation, telling The Verge that “the non-retina iPad mini model is no longer available,” but noting that the move standardizes Apple’s current iPad lineup. “Now all models of iPad mini and iPad Air have 64-bit Apple-designed CPUs and high-resolution Retina displays.” In fact, all of the iPad models remaining in Apple’s store feature either A7 or A8X processors, which are much more capable than the iPad mini’s aging A5 processor. In addition to Retina displays, the remaining iPads all offer WiFi plus Cellular models, as well.
The original iPad mini was announced in October of 2012, and at the time already had year-old hardware. Andrew Cunningham reports for Ars Technica that on the inside, the two-and-a-half-year-old iPad Mini was actually a lightly modified version of the four-year-old iPad 2, which Apple stopped selling early in 2014. No iPad in the current lineup features a processor that Apple introduced more than two years ago, making the lineup more up to date with the requirements of modern apps for the platform.
With the discontinuation of the original iPad mini, developers will be able to focus on creating apps that take advantage of the latest models’ hardware, rather than worrying that people will still be buying tablets that will struggle to run their software. In fact, it’s the first-generation iPad Mini’s struggle to run modern software that makes its discontinuation unsurprising. Kastrenakes notes that “the original mini doesn’t run all that well, so it’s not a huge surprise to see it go.”
Kastrenakes notes that though the discontinuation of the original iPad mini removes the final non-Retina display from Apple’s iOS lineup, some Macs are still sold without Retina displays. However, they all have successors, so they’re on their way toward being phased out. Apple was one of the first companies to be aggressive about moving over to high-resolution displays, but it’s been surprising how long it’s taken to shift over to them entirely.
Cunningham reports that last year, at the same time that Apple unveiled the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, it also announced that the original iPad Mini would be discounted to $249. But even with the price drop, it was difficult to make a case for purchasing the first-generation iPad Mini. The price of the iPad Mini 2 dropped to $299 at the same time, which meant that customers could spend an extra $50 to get a much better screen, twice the RAM, and about four times the processing power. “That’s a lot to turn down,” as Cunningham notes.
While both the iPad Mini and the iPad Mini 2 will run iOS 9 when it launches this fall, the iPad Mini 2 will support some of the operating system’s new multitasking features. But the first-generation iPad Mini won’t, and there will certainly be other features that the older device misses out on, as well.
The original iPad mini is still available in Apple’s store refurbished, and will be available new at third-party retailers until their stock runs out. But if you’re in the market for a small-sized iPad, the much-upgraded iPad mini 2 is almost certainly a better choice. While the iPad mini 3 is also a good option, it costs $100 more just for the addition of the TouchID sensor and, therefore, in-app Apple Pay support. For most users, those features simply aren’t worth the higher price tag, given that other components of the iPad mini 3 — like its processor, screen, and camera — are identical to those of the iPad mini 2.