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New iPad Mini can't tap into carriers' fastest 5G networks

The Mini lacks access to the ultrafast millimeter-wave 5G technology.


The iPad Mini won't get the fastest flavor of 5G.

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

The cellular version of the 2021 iPad Mini is the first non-Pro iPad model to gain 5G capabilities. But unlike the iPad Pro, the Mini lacks the millimeter-wave 5G technology -- also known as ultrawideband -- needed to access carriers' fastest 5G networks. 

Earlier reported by MacRumors, the Mini's tech specs support 5G NR bands, but not the millimeter-wave bands needed to access top network speeds of up to 1Gpbs

Until now, all iPhones and iPads that offer 5G -- including the new iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPad Pro -- also came with access to the millimeter-wave bands. 

The iPad Mini is the first Apple cellular model to rely solely on low- and mid-bands for its 5G coverage. These bands are slower than millimeter-wave bands, but offer more dependable coverage at speeds that still outpace older 4G networks. 

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Millimeter-wave technology uses a higher frequency than other types of cellular networks, which can result in blazing-fast connection speeds. However, this higher frequency band struggles to cover distances or penetrate the walls of buildings.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request to comment on the omission of millimeter-wave 5G in the iPad Mini.