The iPad mini 6 (2021) was one of the most promising devices to emerge from Apple’s September event, but recent iPad mini screen distortions and jelly roll issues have left us unsure about its long-term durability. So if you’re looking for the best iPad mini alternatives, look no further. We help you find your best iOS or Android replacements, from tablets to foldables.
Best overall iPad Mini alternative: iPad Air 2020
While we have plenty of great Android tablets to recommend as alternatives, the best surrogate for an iPadOS tablet is obviously another iPad. And in most areas, the iPad Air 2022 will tick the boxes you were looking for in the iPad mini.
The latest iPad Air is less than a year old and still holds its own as one of the best mid-range tablets out there today. Compared to the mini, it is the latest iPad to integrate Apple’s M1 chip, offering the same performance as the MacBook Air and iPad Pro. Its retina display has fewer pixels per inches (264 vs. 326), but it has the same 500 nits brightness, 60Hz refresh rate and True Tone colors, plus an extra 2.6 inches of diagonal screen real estate. And you still have four more years of software updates left, up to iPadOS 20.
Ironically, the iPad Air is much less bulky than the iPad mini, weighing about a pound instead of the mini’s 0.65 lb. And the mini gets you a better selfie camera for FaceTime and 5G support if you buy mobile. If you’re considering the mini as a compact tool for on-the-go use, the iPad Air might be a little too big for you. But it’s still thin and light enough to be comfortable; plus, we think the extra screen space will make it more practical for actual day-to-day use.
Best of all, the iPad Air costs just $100 more than the mini and is often discounted. It is much more affordable and compact than the new iPad Pro as a replacement option, while being much faster and less bezel-heavy than the basic iPad.
Best Compact Tablet Alternative: Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.4 (2020)
Apple has very few competitors when it comes to tablets, but Samsung comes closest. It releases a wide range of Galaxy Tabs, large and small. Although we are particularly partial to p series for its superior performance, you’ll probably want something compact like the iPad mini. And on that front, you’ll want to consider the Galaxy Tab A 8.4, which dwarfs the mini by just 0.1 inches and 0.06 pounds.
Samsung specifically released this tablet as a 4G LTE upgrade to the 2019 8.0-inch Galaxy Tab. While it may not have 5G, it will serve your purposes while on the go; just make sure you choose the right network for your area: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all options, though some carriers can be harder to find today.
It has an Exynos 7904 chipset and 3GB of RAM, slower than the iPad mini with its 4GB of RAM. And its standard 1920×1200 display doesn’t match the iPad mini’s 2266×1488 resolution and brighter colors. But its battery life will be relatively long. Samsung’s One UI tablet software is your best non-iPadOS option, and (most importantly) it’ll cost you about half the price. And while it won’t last as long as the mini, it has another OS update coming in 2022, plus security updates running into 2023.
Best cheap iPad mini alternative: Fire HD 8 Plus (2022)
What would you actually use an 8-inch tablet for? If you want something for productivity, you want something bigger so you don’t strain your eyes. If you want something comfortable and feathery in your hands when streaming content, you should able to go with the iPad mini for its colorful screen (assuming it’s not defective). Or you can pick up a Fire HD 8 Plus for a fifth of the price — potentially even lower if you spot it during one of Amazon’s endless sales.
This tablet cuts all kinds of corners. It has no water resistance; its cameras are spotty, performance is a bit sluggish, bezels are huge… everything you’d expect from a “value” device. But it’s also something you can take on the go without worrying about damaging it because it doesn’t cost that much, whereas ditching the iPad mini would make you sweat buckets. This tablet can see you through until Apple releases one new iPad mini without all the problems of this model.
Overall, the Fire HD 8 Plus is an efficient entertainment machine for streaming your favorite apps on a screen of the same size. You won’t have mobile support or the level of apps you’d get on an iPad, but we bet you have other devices you can use for them. It’s one of the best cheap Android tablets for simple, small quality.
Best Android tablet alternative: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
One thing that made the iPad mini so universally appealing is that it offers fast performance on a small screen. Most smaller tablets from other companies are strictly “budget” devices because they tie premium quality to larger screens. So unfortunately, most of the best iPad mini alternatives on the Android side are also on the larger side. If you can accept that and are willing to step away from Apple’s walled garden, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is a amazing choice.
With an 11-inch screen, the Galaxy Tab S8 is certainly not easy to use on the go. But at 6.3mm thick – the same as the mini – with super thin bezels and a lightweight aluminum frame, it’s more comfortable to hold than any tablet this size. The screen itself has a nice resolution of 2560×1600 with a 274ppi, short of mini but not by much; more importantly, it has a twice as fast refresh rate of 120Hz. That and the hyper-fast Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset make this display hyper-smooth to use for any app.
With its flagship Snapdragon chip and either 8GB or 12GB of RAM to choose from, the Galaxy Tab S8 is one of the few tablets with the chops to compete with Apple’s Bionic chipset, which tends to destroy most Android units in benchmarks. Its list price is nicely higher than the mini, but it often goes on sale today, so you don’t have to pay that much more. For both casual streaming and heavier productivity apps, the Galaxy Tab S8 won’t let you down.
Best premium iPad mini alternative: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Okay, we can hear your skepticism through cyberspace, but hear us out on this one! The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a hardcore device with lightning-fast performance, an S Pen for tapping away at apps on the go, and excellent software built for its specific size and form factor. Most importantly, an unfolded Z Fold 4 is 7.6 inches diagonally, only slightly smaller than the iPad mini 6.
Many of you probably considered buying the mini because its compact form makes it easy to use during a commute or outside, as opposed to a massive tablet like the iPad Pro (or Galaxy Tab S8). But with a foldable phone, you can take it with you everywhere in the pocket, use it as a phone in some contexts, then switch to tablet form when you’re more comfortable. It doesn’t get more travel size than that.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a 2176 x 1812 (373 ppi) resolution AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, top-end Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, 12GB of RAM (triple the mini’s memory) and weighs about 0.05 pounds less than the iPad mini. Plus, as an Android option, the Z Fold 4’s software is generally far superior to that found on most Android tablets.
The only downside is really the epically high price compared to most tablets. Of course, we wouldn’t blame you if you go with something else, but if you can afford it and want to combine your phone and tablet into one high-performance device, the Z Fold 4 is the way to go.
When it comes to choosing the best iPad mini alternatives, you need to decide why you wanted the iPad mini 6 in the first place and where and when you plan to use it. Depending on whether you want it for streaming, gaming, commuting or some other purpose, it determines whether you really need a portable tablet or can settle for something larger. Because outside of the mini, most small tablets are cheap but have sluggish performance and less beautiful screens.
Apple is generally the top of the business for tablets, which is why our top picks stick to that ecosystem. The iPad Air M1 (2022) is our favorite non-Android tablet and is one we generally recommend as an excellent tablet for students to take to class or stream in their dorms. It hasn’t lost a step since it launched last year, with excellent performance, a display that’s a feast for the eyes, and the same iPadOS you know and love.