iPad mini 6
Apple released the iPad mini 6 in September 2021 with a redesigned chassis, support for Apple Pencil 2, and an A15 Bionic processor. Despite going so long without an update, it is a favorite size class. Rumors suggest a new model will arrive in 2024.
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Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch display which doesn't seem too far a stretch from the iPad mini's 8.3-inch display. However, the aspect ratio is wider on the iPad mini, offering a larger canvas than what the iPhone can at the same size.
Despite being small, this is a premium device in Apple's lineup and is priced much higher than the entry 10.9-inch iPad. The combination of the A15 processor, laminated display, P3 color gamut, and USB-C make this tablet more pro than standard. It even has the Center Stage feature first introduced in the iPad Pro models.
Rumors suggest Apple could release a foldable device modeled after the iPad mini in 2024, but it isn't clear if that will occur. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that instead, Apple will release an updated iPad mini 7 with an improved processor in 2024, and a folding device later, though rumors remain variable about the foldable.
The 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display is now longer and skinnier than the old models, offering a better gaming and media consumption experience. The iPad mini 5 had a more traditional 4:3 display, which caused some content to letterbox.
It has a 2266p by 1488p display at 326 pixels per inch. The laminated screen makes content appear closer to the surface, so using the Apple Pencil will feel more natural.
The flat-sided design brings about a few modern features for the iPad mini that previously weren't possible. For example, the Apple Pencil 2 can attach to the side for pairing and charging.
Another benefit of the flat-sided design is magnetic cases. While there isn't a smart connector for keyboard accessories, the iPad mini 6 still has a magnet system for attaching folio cases and other accessories.
Since the Apple Pencil is nearly the length of the iPad mini's long side, the volume buttons had to be relocated to the top. The side opposite the Apple Pencil docking point wouldn't work either because the buttons would interfere with magnetic cases like the Smart Folio.
Apple positions the iPad mini as a notepad-style device, not a laptop replacement like other iPad models. That means there's no official keyboard case, but that hasn't stopped third-party manufacturers from experimenting with the tiny device. Popular keyboard case maker, Brydge, has produced keyboards for the iPad mini before, and it likely will again.
The Wide camera on the iPad mini is a 12MP sensor with True Tone flash, Smart HDR 3, and 4K recording capabilities. It can take photos of similar quality to the iPad Air 4, but the A15 processor has a better image signal processor.
The real story with the iPad mini is its 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera. Thanks to the Center Stage function, the camera can now follow the user's face wherever it is in the frame.
Center Stage was introduced as a feature for the 2021 iPad Pro, and it intelligently uses the wide-angle of the camera to pan and fit your face or others as they enter the field of view. This keeps FaceTime calls centered on the user's face.
A15 Bionic Processor
The iPad mini 6 uses the same A15 processor as the iPhone 13. Early benchmarks show that the chip is slightly downclocked in the iPad mini, 2.9GHz versus 3.2GHz, but the effect on performance is negligible.
Apple says the A15 makes the new iPad mini 40% faster than its previous generation, and the Neural Engine is twice as fast. That translates to faster loading times in projects and better results for machine learning-based applications.
The GPU is 80% faster, making games and graphics applications run much better than before. Since it is a 5-core GPU, it uses the same version found in the iPhone 13 Pro.
Apple doesn't update the iPad mini every year, so it opted for the top-of-the-line A-series processor to prevent premature aging out. The A15 Bionic is more than powerful enough to run any modern iPad app or game without any issue and will continue to do so for some time.
USB-C means more accessories are cross-compatible between your iPad mini and Mac. External SSDs, keyboards, docks, and more can be connected with this universal cable.
The USB 3.1 Gen 1 port supports up to 5GB/s of data transfer and DisplayPort 1.2 video out to monitors.
There are 5G capabilities in the iPad mini that enable fast downloads over cellular. Apple didn't include the mmWave 5G bands, so users should expect only the sub-6GHz speeds.
Apple says the iPad mini has a 19.3 watt-hour battery that offers up to 10 hours of web surfing or watching videos. Battery drain results will depend on what applications are used throughout the day.
iPad mini 6 Review
Something unique about the iPad mini's form factor sets it apart from the other iPad models. Even though the design debuted in the 2018 iPad Pro, it feels futuristic and desirable in the smaller package.
The Starlight color is interesting to behold in any lighting situation, and the lightweight means users are less likely to drop it. Another interesting design point is the volume buttons, they are on the top of the iPad mini and are agnostic to orientation.
Even though it has taken on design aspects of the iPad Pro, it still isn't a pro tablet. You'll be able to perform most tasks that an iPad Pro can perform, albeit slower. The tiny display doesn't offer much in the way of multitasking either.
The pixel-dense display makes text and iconography appear smaller than on other displays. In some situations, text can become difficult to read for some, but luckily iPadOS 15 enables per-app text size options.
The LED backlight on the iPad mini 6 will not compare well to the OLED found in the iPhone 13 or the mini-LED of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but it still looks great in most situations. The light weight is a boon for long video viewing sessions, making for a great media consumption device.
One anomaly users noticed is "jelly scrolling," a screen refresh lag as a user swiftly scrolls through content. However, this isn't a defect or poor design, it is a result of the screen technology used in the iPad mini. Users who are used to 120Hz displays are more likely to notice the phenomenon than others.
The iPad mini draws obvious comparisons to the Amazon Kindle lineup due to its size. We consider the iPad mini perfect for reading, but the Kindle Paperwhite is still the king of outdoor reading thanks to the e-ink display.
Depending on your use case, you may want a Kindle over an iPad, especially since the price difference is quite wide. However, the Kindle Paperwhite is for books only, while the iPad mini has the entire App Store at its disposal.
The iPad mini is perfect for anyone in the market for a small tablet device, but it isn't that simple a recommendation. We recommend customers with no portable computer of any kind look to the iPad Air unless portability is the top priority.
If you've already got a MacBook or a larger iPad, but want something that can go anywhere with you, then the iPad mini is the obvious choice. Although, if you're only going to use it for reading, then a cheaper Amazon Kindle may be better suited for the job.
2021 iPad mini pros
- Very light and portable
- Capable A15 Bionic chip
- Sharp, Liquid Retina display
- USB-C Port
- Beautiful design
2021 iPad mini cons
- Tedious multitasking
- "Jelly scroll" may or may not make a difference to you
- High price tag versus the entry-level iPad
- No Face ID
- Not ideal for outdoor reading
Prices and Deals
Adding 5G capabilities to the iPad mini 6 increases the cost by another $150 no matter the model chosen. Official Apple accessories include a color-matched Smart Folio for $59 or the Apple Pencil for $129.