A few months ago I bought a refurbished iPad mini 5 with the aim of using it with Procreate while traveling. Procreate works on the iPad mini5 . So if you already own an iPad mini 5 or you’re considering buying a refurbished model, this post covers my experience and research.
The Procreate app is fully compatible with the Apple iPad mini 5th generation and works with the 1st generation Apple Pencil. You will need to download the app from the App Store and run the latest version of iOS.
The IPad Mini 5 is a powerful tool with the same specs as its contemporary, the iPad Air 3rd gen, released at the same time. The iPad mini 5th generation works with Procreate but this model was discontinued in Sept 2021, with the release of the iPad mini 6th generation.
With that in mind, is the iPad mini 5 practical today?
Let’s find out.
Disclaimer: When you buy something via my affiliate links, I sometimes earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend trusted sites.
What is the iPad Mini 5? An Overview
The iPad mini 5th generation Apple tablet is a small and very portable device, released in march 2019, and is the first in the iPad mini series to support the Apple Pencil, making it an ideal portable drawing tablet.
The main reason for buying an iPad mini 5 is the compact size, it’s easy to carry around and use on the go. The screen uses True Tone technology which adjusts the color temperature to match the ambient light. Very handy for digital artists.
The iPad mini 5 has plenty of processing power. It uses an A12 Bionic chip, which is more than good enough to run the latest version of Procreate smoothly and with no lag to worry about. This model is available in with 64GB or 256GB of storage which is sufficient for the needs of most people.
The 3GB of ram is the bare minimum you need. If the storage is insufficient you will have to back up your files to release space.
A new iPad mini 5 has a good battery life, it technically lasts for up to 10 hours on a single charge, but because you will be buying a 2nd hand or refurbished model, you must be realistic and lower your expectations.
You won’t get anywhere near that length of time while you run the Procreate app.
The older iPad mini 5 comes with a lightning port for charging. It also doubles as a charging port for a 1st gen Apple Pencil, but take my advice, use the adapter and charge your pencil via the Apple charging lead.
You can pair your device with a Bluetooth keyboard should you wish to use your device as a mini-computer.
The iPad mini 5 is a small iPad Air, in other words, it packs plenty of punch.
It’s easier to remember the key points if I list the pros and cons of using Procreate with the iPad mini 5
The Advantages of Using Procreate with the iPad Mini 5th and 6th Generation Tablets
- Portability: The iPad mini 5 is tiny it measures just 8.0 inches (203.2 mm x 5.3 inches (134.8 mm) (source). The mini 6th gen is 7.69 inches (195.4 mm) by 5.3 inches (134.8 mm). It’s super portable. I can take it anywhere. It’s perfect for artists on the go.
- High-res Display: The iPad mini 5 and 6 both have high-resolution Retina displays. The mini 5 has 2048 x 1536 resolution at 326 pixels per inch (ppi). The mini 6 is almost the same at 2266 x 1488 resolution at 326 pixels per inch (ppi). You can view your art as its meant to be seen
- Apple Pencil: Both the iPad mini 5 and 6 support Apple pencils, essential if you intend to use your tablet and Procreate to its full potential.
- Performance: Both the iPad mini 5 and 6 are equipped with bionic chips that support the resource-heavy Procreate app.
- Palm Support: Using a stylus automatically activates palm support meaning the screen ignores your touch while the pencil nib is in contact with the screen.
The Disadvantages of Using Procreate on the iPad Mini 5th and 6th generation Tablets
- Size: Ironically its size is the main advantage and its major drawback. Drawing on a tiny screen is awkward and potentially very frustrating. It suits some but not all.
- Storage Space: Both iPad minis have either 64GB or 256GB of storage. You should be fine with 64GB but if you can afford to buy the 256GB model then go for it.
- Ram: Gb of Ram is memory. The iPad minis have 3GB of Ram. That’s OK but not much to play with, for example, if I make a 16” x 16” at 300dpi (for printing) it will save 7 layers. It could frustrate digital artists used to making very complex art.
- Battery Life: The battery life is supposed to be 10 hours but the Procreate app drains the battery quite quickly in my exper
- Support: Often overlooked but when it comes to buying older models, Apple tends to withdraw support after several years in order to force users to upgrade. IPad mini 5’s have a limited lifespan compared with the newer model.
The iPad Mini 5 vs iPad Mini 6: What’s the difference?
There are many differences between the two models. The iPad mini 6 is a significant upgrade. If price is not an issue, you should buy an iPad mini 6. It’s the best tablet.
Here are some key differences between the two iPad minis:
- Processor: The iPad mini 5 uses Apple’s A12 Bionic chip which works perfectly well with Procreate, whereas the iPad mini 6 uses the faster and more powerful A15 Bionic chip and offers better performance all-round. The iPad mini 6 is better for running resource-intensive apps and that includes Procreate.
- Display: Both the iPad mini 5 and 6 are very similar in size and weight but whereas the old Ipad mini 5 has a 7.9-inch retina display, with wide bevels and a front power button, the new iPad mini 6 has a larger 8.3-inch display area with small bevels and a power button on the side of the tablet.
- Stylus: The iPad mini 5 supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, while the Ipad mini 6 supports the 2nd gen apple pencil.
- Charging: The iPad mini 5 has a lightning port, while the mini 6 has a USB-C slot.
- Screen: The mini 5 has a wide beveled screen with a Home button, hence the smaller display area. The mini 6 uses a lock button on the side.
- Connectively: The mini 5 uses 4G. The mini 6 can support 5G
- Price: A refurbished 5th gen iPad mini will cost somewhere between $250 – $350 depending on condition and GB size. A new Mini 6 starts at $499 for a 64GB model on Apple.com or $649 for a $256GB model.
I bought my refurbished Ipad mini from Backmarket. I’m happy. No complaints at all.
One more point of difference but not vital for using procreate is the cameras.
They are far better on the new iPad mini 6 with a 12MP camera front and rear. by contrast, the older iPad mini 5 has an 8MP and 7MP camera respectively.
How to Install the Procreate App on Your iPad mini 5
Follow these 8 simple steps:
- Open the Apple store
- Tap the search icon at the bottom of the screen. It looks like a magnifying glass.
- Type “Procreate” in the search bar at the top and press Enter on your keyboard
- Locate the Procreate app
- Tap the “Get” button to the right of the app. It will say $12.99 (2023)
- Enter your Apple ID password and confirm the purchase
- The app will download when the circle bar is complete
- When it’s done click “Open” and launch the Procreate app.
You are now ready to use the program.
Learn How to Use Procreate with this Course by Scott Harris on Udemy
Is The Ipad Mini 5 Good for Drawing?
It’s a matter of personal preference. Professional artists will probably answer ‘No’ because of the smaller screen size and low Ram. Most digital artists and graphic designers require larger iPads with more memory.
But in many ways that misses the point. IPad minis are not designed to replace a larger model, they are designed to meet a need, and to be portable. In that, they work perfectly.
Their value depends entirely on how you use them and what you want from your device. If you only need to make small graphics that don’t involve creating too many layers it works well. It’s fantastic for sketching out ideas and taking notes.
Amateur artists and even some pros will get a lot of fun out of taking this tablet anywhere. I like to think of it as a digital sketch pad tucked into a side pocket and ready to use at a moment’s notice.
I have one with me right now while I’m traveling in Indonesia. It’s the perfect choice for me, lightweight, powerful, and cheap enough that should anything happen, I won’t be crying myself to sleep if I lose it.
The drawing experience is different and it takes some getting used to. You have a tiny drawing area and you’ll need to pinch-zoom your screen in and out to add fine detail. Using your Apple pencil will activate the palm support and makes life easy.
You will draw differently on a smaller size screen, in the same way, that you draw differently on smaller sketch pads. Inevitably, you tend to draw from the wrist. Great for tighter styles and controlled detail.
Having a bigger screen, or larger sheet of paper encourages you to draw using your whole arm, creating a more fluid movement and looser style.
You may have to make adjustments to your working methods to suit the device. A small compromise overall I think.
Read this if you are thinking about buying the Procreate App: Is The Procreate App Worth it For Beginners? Get the Facts
Do You Need an Apple Pencil to Use Procreate on an iPad Mini?
I’d love to say that you can get away with using your finger or a cheap stylus but I can’t.
Procreate is designed to be used with an Apple Pencil and if you want a pressure-sensitive pencil, you have no choice but to use its own branded stylus. We all know that Apple ties you to Apple products, and this is no exception.
Your fingertip is just too big and clumsy to use with any finesse. You’ll spend more time undoing mistakes than actual drawing. It’s a false economy.
You can also buy a cheaper Logitech Crayon that is fully compliant with Apple and Procreate but without the pressure sensitivity function.
If you want to learn more about this I’ve written an entire post that explains everything you need to know: Do You Need an Apple Pencil for Procreate? I Found Out
How Much Does it Cost to Buy an iPad Mini 5 with Procreate?
Here’s the rub. The true cost of your iPad mini is more expensive than it might at first appear. You can certainly find a good refurbished Apple iPad mini online for a reasonable price. Take a look at the Apple Renewed shop or Backmarket and see if they have anything for sale.
I picked up an iPad min 5th gen with 64GB of storage on Backmarket for $259 (£215). But that’s not the true cost because I had to buy an Apple pencil to go with it, and the Procreate app too of course.
I decided to buy a new Apple 1st gen pencil. I thought about buying a used one on eBay but you never know what you’ll get, and besides, they weren’t so cheap. I’d rather buy a new Logitech Crayon than take the risk. Apple pencils are easily damaged.
I spent $259 on my refurbished iPad Mini 5, $99 on my Apple Pencil, and $9.99 on the app (N.B The price is now $12.99 in 2023). I haven’t bought a screen protector yet but that’s next. That’s a total of $367.99 or roughly £305 at today’s exchange rate.
You’ll be paying substantially more for the newer iPad mini 6th gen, but, out of the two, it’s the best choice, if you can afford it. Don’t forget that the iPad mini 6 uses the Apple pencil 2nd gen costs more, $129 the last time I looked.
Does Procreate Work on Older iPad Minis?
Sadly not. Only the Apple mini 5th and 6th generation work seamlessly with Procreate. The Apple 4 supports the Procreate app but not the Apple Pencil, which reduces its capability.
In theory, the older iPad minis will not support Procreate but there is one workaround, that might work. Procreate will allow you to buy older versions.
Procreate suggests that you buy and send the app to yourself as a gift to your own email. Here is how it works:
- Open the Apple store app
- Scroll down to the bottom and click the App icon
- Search for Procreate and open the information page
- Tap the 3 dots in a blue circle symbol or the Share icon on the right.
- In the menu select “Gift app”
- Enter your email address in the “to” field.
- Select a date and tap “Next”
- Choose any theme and tap “Next”
- Hit the “Buy” button
You will receive download instructions in your email. It’s important to realize that this is likely to work but according to Procreate by no means guaranteed. You will be risking $9.99 to find out.
You will automatically download an older version of Procreate compatible with your device. It means, in effect, that your app will suffer from any bugs and glitches that occur in older versions and will lack the newest features. So be it.
As with the iPad mini 4, iPad minis 1,2, and 3, will not support the Apple Pencil.
Does Procreate Work on an iPad Mini 5? Final Thoughts
Procreate works fine on an iPad Mini 5 if you accept that it’s not the best iPad for Procreate. It’s a compromise. You are swapping the convenience of carrying a small portable tablet with you anywhere, for some loss of practical functionality.
You are limited in how many layers you can create and that will stifle some artists.
This might not be a raving review but it is based on my experience using my own iPad mini 5. It is a great tool and perfect for what I need it for, namely having a powerful tablet that supports Procreate and slips into a shoulder pouch.
I have no problem recommending the iPad mini 5, that said if I had the spare cash, which I don’t, I’d prefer the latest iPad mini 6. But isn’t that always the case, that we are forever chasing upgrades? When is enough, enough? The mini 5 is just fine.
Never heard of Domestika? It’s a bargain. Check out my Review here: Is Domestika Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers
Here are a few more Procreate posts that will interest you:
- Is it Worth Buying an iPad for Procreate?
- Are Drawing Tablets Worth it? Pros and Cons Guide
- How to Add a Grid in Procreate and Improve Your Drawings
- How to Undo in Procreate: Plus Redo Gestures (2023)
- How to Change Layer Opacity in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Make Straight Lines in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Make a Stamp Brush in Procreate: Step by Step
- How to Use the Symmetry Tools in Procreate: Step-by-Step
- How to Use Layers in Procreate: 15 Essential Tips and More
- How to Duplicate in Procreate: Copy and Paste, Cut and Clone
- How to Print From Procreate: Your Step-by-Step Guide
I made a living selling my art for over 20 years. If you want to copy how I did it, I wrote this guide for you.
These are business related posts:
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- Are Online Drawing Courses Worth it? I Chose 5 of The Best For You!
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- 19 Ways to Make Money as an Artist Online and Off: No Fluff!
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Hi, I’m Kevin Hayler
I’ve been selling my wildlife art and traveling the world for over 20 years, and if that sounds too good to be true, I’ve done it all without social media, art school, or galleries!
I can show you how to do it. You’ll find a wealth of info on my site, about selling art, drawing tips, lifestyle, reviews, travel, my portfolio, and more. Enjoy