The Apple iPad Mini 6 (6th Generation) is the long-awaited reimagining of the smallest iPad that we’ve been yearning for since the new-look iPad Pro debuted in 2018.

Recent iterations of the iPad mini included support for Apple Pencil and high-end chipsets from Apple, transforming them into formidable portable creative tools – but the absence of a USB-C connector and compatibility for Apple Pencil v2 was a disappointment.

Now that we have both, and Apple has fitted a larger screen into a somewhat smaller frame as an added bonus, it feels as though the iPad mini has reached its full potential as a pocket powerhouse, especially when 5G connectivity is included.

It weighs next to nothing, making it a computer you can carry around with you everywhere you go – but whenever inspiration strikes for your sketching or content creation, it’s immediately available.

Because the screen is still significantly less in overall size than the earlier iPad generations, it may never be ideal for some creatives, but if you’d rather have something ultra-light that you can take with you in addition to a laptop, it’s wonderful.

There are some things it lacks that may frustrate, and the price has increased to reflect the new design and enhancements, but we believe the total package will be hard to ignore.

iPad mini at a glance:

Apple iPad Mini 6

  • OS: iPadOS 15
  • CPU: A15 Bionic
  • Storage: 64GB, 256GB
  • Display: 8.3-inch (2266 x 1488 pixels) Liquid Retina
  • Rear cameras: 12MP wide (f/1.8)
  • Video: Up to 4K at up to 60 fps
  • Front camera: 12MP FaceTime HD
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G (Sub-6)
  • Battery life: 10:29 (tested)
  • Size: 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Weight: 0.7 pounds
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Display

The iPad mini 6’s new screen boasts a resolution of 2266×1488, or 326 pixels per inch – ideal for seeing at all distances. Nowadays, phones have greater resolutions, but we truly don’t see the need for ultra-high resolution on a tablet just yet. After all, it is higher than print resolution.

This new 8.3-inch screen, unlike the previous iteration, has a closer to 3:2 aspect ratio. We believe this is an excellent choice for a device this small: the additional width improves video viewing (lower letterbox bars), but it retains more height than 16:9, which is better for viewing images and documents.

The screen quality has been consistent for the most part. It retains a standard brightness of 500 nits, DCI-P3 color compatibility, and Apple’s True Tone technology for more comfortable reading in low light.

As with the previous model, it is completely laminated and coated with an anti-reflective material. Between this and the total brightness, visibility is good – the iPad Pro shines brighter at 600 nits, but the iPad mini performs admirably overall.

Its single significant shortcoming is contrast – while it is acceptable, it lacks the depth in dark tones provided by the mini-LED lighting on the 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro or an OLED panel.  Apart from that, the panel’s color accuracy, vibrancy, and uniformity are remarkable.

Design

Tech Reviews - Apple iPad Mini design - Tech News

The iPad mini’s design is fairly similar to that of the current iPad Air or even the iPad Pro. The screen is encircled by a relatively thin bezel (albeit with enough empty space to comfortably hold it), and the sides are flat, all of which are constructed from a single piece of aluminum.

The Touch ID has been relocated to the Sleep/Wake button, which works flawlessly and quickly, but if you’re used to an iPhone with Face ID, the comparable size and identical Lock screen make it difficult to adjust to the fact that this one requires a fingerprint.

It weighs less than 300g and is smaller than an A4 notebook, so portability is the real star here. You can hold it for long lengths of time than a larger iPad, and there’s no need to consider if lugging it around is worth the extra weight before tossing it in your bag — it’s that light.

Power and Performance

The iPad Mini 6 showcases Apple’s newest chip, the A15 Bionic. Interestingly, it appears to be a slightly customized version of it, as it has six processing cores and five GPU cores (the same as the iPhone 13 Pro), but runs at a slightly slower pace and has 4GB of RAM instead of the iPhone 13 Pro’s 6GB.

However, it is still a wonderfully powerful piece of tech. Only the M1 chip in the iPad Pros beats its Geekbench 5 benchmark scores of 1604 for single-core performance and 4620 for multi-core performance. It’s the same with GPU performance – no other tablet (or phone) comes close to Apple’s monstrous top-end hardware. 

One area where you might be upset is the 4GB of RAM, which limits things like how many layers you can have while editing a high-res image.

When it comes to editing 4K videos, quickly working with imported photographs (even raw files), and composing and editing music tracks, we’ve discovered that the iPad mini is exceptionally fast and smooth.

This year, 5G performance is an added bonus, our tests saw download speeds of 300Mbps and upload rates of 30Mbps with the iPad mini, which should allow you to rapidly start and stop cloud work while you’re in a 5G area.

Finally, battery performance appears to be inconsistent. Apple estimates that you should get roughly 10 hours of light web browsing or movie viewing offline, which appears to be accurate based on our usage.

We tried streaming Netflix for two hours at full brightness and 50% volume, and it consumed 40% of the battery. Running the same test on the iPad 10.2-inch (9th generation) reduced it by 30%, implying that the mini’s smaller size and a somewhat brighter screen will result in shorter overall battery life.

Running resource-intensive creative applications can also significantly reduce battery life, particularly something that utilizes both the CPU and GPU like vector illustration and gaming.

Apple Pencil 2

We’re thrilled to see the Apple Pencil 2 supported on the iPad Mini 6, as it’s a significant improvement over the original in terms of overall functionality.

The Apple Pencil 2 magnetically attaches to the side of the new iPad mini and charges itself while it’s there. This means it’s always close at hand, juiced up, and ready to go, whether you’re drawing, editing images, or taking notes.

The Apple Pencil 2 does have one more handy feature: you can double-tap it to activate a tool. Additionally, we prefer the matte finish to the shiny sheen of the original.

One thing to keep in mind for Apple Pencil users is that the iPad mini’s screen preserves its predecessor’s 60Hz refresh rate – the iPad Pro’s 120Hz ProMotion fast-refresh screen remains a ‘Pro’-exclusive feature.

In comparison to the iPad Pro, this means that you see the results of your drawing with a slight delay (fractions of a second) – this is fine for jotting notes or sketching, but may be a stumbling block for anyone looking to accomplish something more advanced here.

Key features

Tech Reviews - Apple iPad Mini cam - Tech News

The iPad mini’s cameras have been improved significantly in terms of quality. The main camera has been upgraded to a 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle sensor with significantly enhanced image processing.

The end result is night and day — the new camera is significantly more capable of handling detail, colors, and managing contrast within a picture. It’s on a par with a mid-range phone – the closest equivalent from Apple’s lineup would be the iPhone SE.

Additionally, it can record video at high to 4K 60 frames per second and contains Apple’s incredibly excellent image stabilization, which is a vastly underrated feature of the company’s newest phones – it can virtually eliminate handshake from recordings.

The front-facing camera is even more intriguing because it incorporates Apple’s ‘Center Stage’ feature, which means that if you’re on a video conference and move about the room, the camera will follow you without requiring the iPad to move.

This is because the lens is actually quite broad, but it crops into a portion of the vision whenever it recognizes a face. If you then move while remaining within its (huge, 122°) range of view, the clipped region just follows you. If it detects two individuals in view, it simply expands the space it displays to accommodate both of you. It’s extremely innovative and useful — the only minor drawback is that the front camera’s video output is limited to 1080p Full HD, rather than 4K.

The USB-C connector is one of our favorite improvements to the iPad mini simply because it expands the possibilities. It will also function with external storage for file transfer, displays, MIDI instruments, and USB hubs.

However, unlike its predecessor, this one lacks a 3.5mm jack. The only iPad in the lineup that still includes this feature is the lowest 10.2-inch model, which is pretty amusing given how much audio professionals would certainly want it. If you want to create music with no latency, you’ll need to invest in either a portable USB-C DAC or a simple USB-C-to-3.5mm adaptor (which Apple sells).

Another notable omission is the Smart Connector, which Apple utilizes to secure its keyboard cases. As you might imagine, there is no keyboard case available for the iPad mini, which is very sensible considering the device’s compact size (and you can always use any Bluetooth keyboard, if you want).

However, the Magic Keyboard covers for the iPad Air and iPad Pro have a secondary USB-C port for charging the iPad when the primary USB-C port is tethered to an accessory. We wish there were something comparable for the iPad mini, but there will never be, as it lacks the Smart Connector.

There are stereo speakers on both ends of the gadget when held in landscape mode. They’re quite decent — don’t expect a lot of bass, but plenty of detail for singers and sound effects in movies. Additionally, there is some stereo separation, though nothing extraordinary.

Bottom line

The iPad mini 6 is a triumph of form over function. Apple could have abandoned the iPad mini but instead given it a much-needed update. This Gen 6 model outperforms the 2019 model in every category. A larger display with slimmer bezels, much quicker performance, USB-C charging, Touch ID, support for the Apple Pencil Gen 2, and optional 5G connectivity all highlight the device’s complete revamp.

Now, let’s discuss who should get the iPad mini because as excellent as this tablet is, it is not for everyone. The majority of users considering the iPad mini are presumably weighing its merits against the iPad or iPad Air. My advice is straightforward: Your choice should be mostly determined by price and display size.

If you’re looking for an ultra-compact tablet that you can use properly with one hand, the iPad mini is your best bet. If the size is less of an issue and you’re purchasing a tablet for streaming movies or television shows, save some money and get the $329 iPad. If you want to use your iPad for both content consumption and multitasking, consider upgrading to the iPad Air. That is not to imply that the iPad mini cannot meet your streaming, gaming, or remote work needs; rather, it should be considered only if you require the most portable solution.

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