Apple's new, redesigned iPad Mini will have a 5G option starting at $649

The iPhone event had a little surprise for the littlest iPad.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
3 min read

The iPad Mini gets a redesign. 

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple is expanding its 5G adoption. After first bringing the new cellular connection to the iPhone 12 line last year and the updated M1 iPad Pro in April, the company announced on Tuesday that its redesigned iPad Mini will also have a version that connects to the latest 5G networks from wireless carriers. 

As with the iPad Pro 5G update, getting a 5G-capable version of the iPad Mini may cost you a bit more compared to Wi-Fi-only models. 

Watch this: Revamped iPad Mini revealed

Nearly all iPads since the original's introduction in 2010 have included an option for cellular connectivity, usually a $130 to $150 premium compared to the standard Wi-Fi-only pricing in the US. Apple charged $200 more for the 5G-capable iPad Pro, and as with other connected tablets, you still need to pay extra for service from wireless carriers AT&TT-Mobile and Verizon

The new iPad Mini will start at $499 (£479, AU$749) for the Wi-Fi version, with the 5G version starting at $649 (£619, AU$979). That premium is $20 higher than the $130 extra Apple charged to get 4G LTE on older Minis. 

It also remains to be seen if the carriers change their pricing or plans for the new iPad Mini. As we wrote in April, data options for tablets have traditionally not been cheap.

If you have an AT&T unlimited plan, you can add a tablet for $20 a month. Without unlimited, the carrier charges $50 a month for 25GB of tablet data on its Data Connect plan, or $75 a month for 40GB (both with a $10 discount for AutoPay and paperless billing). Going over your data limit will cost you $10 for every 2GB of additional data. 

Verizon has a few different options. The nation's largest carrier charges $20 per month for unlimited 4G LTE and low-band 5G access if you already have an unlimited wireless plan with Verizon, but if you want access to its fastest 5G flavors you'll need to shell out $30 per month for its "Unlimited Plus" offering. 

If your account has a Do More or Get More unlimited plan, you can lower that by 50% a month. No phone service with Verizon? An unlimited tablet data plan runs $75 per month with discounts for AutoPay and paperless billing, or $80 without. The Unlimited Plus option runs $85 with AutoPay and paperless billing or $90 without. 

Verizon's shared data plans allow you to add a tablet for $10 a month, but those plans cannot access its faster flavors of 5G and are limited just to its 4G LTE and low-band 5G networks. 

T-Mobile used to offer a free 200MB of data per month for tablets on its network, but discontinued the offer in 2017. That said, it still has the most affordable and widest range of tablet data plans with the cheapest running $5 per month for 500MB of high-speed data so long as you have one of its Magenta plans for phone service (Essentials, Magenta regular, Plus or Max). 

Spending $15 per month gets you unlimited tablet data if you have an Essentials phone plan, while those on Magenta or Magenta Max can add unlimited data for $20 per month with AutoPay enabled. Essentials users get up to 50GB of high-speed data, while Magenta users get up to 100GB of data before risking having your data slowed by the carrier for "data prioritization." 

If you have the carrier's Magenta Max plan for your phone, you won't need to worry about that 50GB threshold for your tablet. 

If you don't have T-Mobile wireless service, the pricing rises by $40 per month so the 500MB plan is $45 while the unlimited option is $60 per month (both with AutoPay).