Most who follow Apple closely will agree with me that it was disappointing Apple did not upgrade the iPad mini along with the rest of the iPad line. Most predict that Apple will eventually let it go the way of the iPod now that the iPhone Plus screen is big enough that it may represent a good alternative for folks who want a bigger screen mobile device but doesn't want to go as big as the 9.7" iPad.
Frankly, I think that's a pretty lame comparision and excuse. First of all, the iPhone Plus is not a tablet. I have the iPhone 7 Plus and I love it. It's powerful, gets me through the day with no issue, and has the best camera as far as I can of any that I have ever owned. But here is why I don't think it's a good replacement for the iPad mini.
The mini can do many things that the iPhone cannot do. Split screen. A little cramp but works well. The iPhone doesn't do split screen. Picture-in-picture is a feature that the iPad owns the iPhone. The mini does that too but the iPhone doesn't. I think it should and allow can easily allow it to do that but it doesn't. It's obvious that Apple does want to keep some features that as exlcusive to the iPad. Which kinda says a lot about how Apple does not think the iPhone 7 Plus is a viable replacement for the mini.
Furthermore, the mini is more a productive device than the iPhone. I've done my share of work on the iPhone but if you put the iPhone Plus and the iPad mini on a table and ask me to crank out a spreadsheet, drawing, or just about anything else, I'll reached for the mini every time.
So, it is perplexing that Apple decided to forgo upgrading the mini in 2017. Perhaps, we might see an upgrade down the line, perhaps in time for the Holiday Seasons in 2017 or next spring when Apple may decide to use that time show off new iPads.
The mini serves a need that the iPhone Plus can be a viable substitute for. Reading, watching videos, or play games. For other things that can offer greater productivity, the mini has the iPhone beat. And let's face it, the iPhone Plus costs way more than the mini. Some might say that's the reason Apple decided not to upgrade the mini and will eventually kill it off. If so, it should have done that earlier this year.
My guess is that Apple does have plans for the iPad mini. Maybe it'll get an biannual upgrade like the iPhone SE. If it does, it makes sense. The iPhone SE did not get an upgrade this year and if Apple does want to keep the mini in the lineup, upgrading the SE and the iPad mini at the same time next year would make a lot of sense. That means I'l be more than willing to retire my current iPad mini and opt for the iPad mini 5.