The iPad mini has long been a fan favorite, and after a period of inactivity, the small-screen tablet has finally received the love and attention it deserves. The sixth-generation iPad mini is better looking and more capable than ever, with a refreshed design that matches the rest of the premium iPad lineup and performance to match. What’s the catch? To reflect the enhanced smarts on offer, there’s a new price tag.
Is the £479/$499 asking price for the sixth-generation iPad mini justified? Continue reading to learn more.
Accessories and design
- Refreshed design, comparable to the iPad Air
- Larger display without a larger footprint
- USB-C & Touch ID
- Support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, but no Magic Keyboard
The iPad mini 6 is the long-awaited makeover of Apple’s small-screen tablet, bringing the design closer to that of the iPad Air 4 and iPad Pro series. It’s so similar to the iPad Air that it could have been dubbed the iPad Air Mini if the name wasn’t so long, with the same near-bezel-free design, Touch ID-enabled Power button, and more, though there are a few key distinctions. I’ll get to those in a minute.
The main design difference is the larger display, which goes from 7.9in on the iPad mini 5 to 8.3in on the iPad mini 6, but it still measures 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm thanks to the smaller bezels. As a result, the iPad mini is still as small and portable as before, but with a far better display.
- The best pixel density of any iPad
- Bright, rich colors are ideal for viewing movies
- 60Hz refresh rate limits the experience
- The small display isn’t designed for split-screen multitasking
The 8.3in LED IPS display of the sixth-generation iPad mini is exceptional for a tablet of its size, with a bigger display and thinner bezels than its predecessor.
Whether you’re watching Marvel’s What If? on Disney+ or sketching on Procreate, the images are vibrant and clean, with acceptable brightness that enables for outdoor use (although with reflections) – up to 518cd/m2 in benchmark tests.
Colors pop with such vibrancy that I nearly forgot it wasn’t an OLED or Mini-LED powering the experience, with only the not-quite-dark blacks revealing the game’s true nature.
It is, however, detailed. Because of its small size, it is more detailed than any other iPad in Apple’s product range, including the iPad Pro.
Features and performance
- A15 Bionic delivers flagship-level performance
- Exceptional performance when gaming and working
- Improved Neural Engine adds new AI capabilities like Live Text
- iPadOS 15 delivers the greatest tablet software experience
- Optional 5G connectivity is available
Despite its diminutive size, the sixth-generation iPad mini delivers flagship-level performance. The same A15 Bionic chipset that powers the latest iPhones sits at its heart, with a six-core CPU, five-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine, and it’s safe to say that it packs a punch.
- Charge through USB-C
- 20W charger included in the box
- All-day battery life
The iPad mini’s compact size makes it handy and versatile, but it also means it can’t match with larger iPads in terms of battery life – after all, there’s only so much capacity within that little casing!
That’s not to say it won’t run out of juice after a few hours – the iPad mini can easily last all day with a mix of social media, light gaming, and internet browsing, and it’ll last a couple of days with more sporadic use – but power users won’t be able to get through a full second day without a charge.
- Upgraded 12MP FaceTime HD camera
- Most of the time, Center Stage works nicely
- Rear-facing camera performance is quite standard
On smartphones, it’s all about the rear-facing cameras, but on tablets, it’s all about the front-facing camera, whether for selfies on social media or FaceTime chats with friends and family, and its importance has grown exponentially over the last couple of years with an increased reliance on remote communication.
Apple recognized this and opted to enhance the iPad mini’s front-facing camera. The iPad mini 5’s dismal 7MP sensor has been upgraded with a higher quality 12MP FaceTime HD camera that is substantially clearer and has far less noise. The increased clarity can be seen right away in selfies and video chats, especially in well-lit areas, and you can choose between cropped and ultra-wide selfies.
The hike in price from the £399/$399 iPad mini 5 to £479/$499 for the 64GB model and £619/$649 for the 256GB model, with an additional £140/$150 if you want cellular connectivity, is one adjustment that enthusiasts may not appreciate.
That’s more than the iPad mini 5, but it’s money wisely spent; the iPad mini has never been marketed as a powerful, capable tablet, but rather as an entry-level tablet for small-screen fans. The iPad mini 6 is very much a flagship-level gadget, with its new design, flagship-level A15 Bionic, compatibility with Apple Pencil, and more, even if it lacks a few things that make it a Pro.
The sixth-generation iPad mini checks a lot of boxes: it’s stylish, has a larger display without taking up more space, and, thanks to the A15 Bionic processor, it’s among the most competent tablets of any size. Even in high-end mobile games and while running many apps concurrently, that power gives a top-notch tablet experience devoid of stutter or lag, and it’ll likely stay that way for a long time.
It’s perfect for one-handed use, making it the ideal portable iPad for keeping up on social networking and watching YouTube videos, and the display offers a higher pixel density than any other iPad, despite the lack of a 120Hz refresh rate.
The 8.3-inch display provides plenty of screen real estate for gaming and social media, but it’s not ideal for split-screen activities, since text becomes too small to read comfortably, especially in portrait mode.
Even with second-gen Apple Pencil support, this, combined with the lack of a Smart Connector for a Magic Keyboard, means the iPad mini isn’t the iPad if you’re looking for a work-focused device.
However, if you’re looking for a long-lasting tablet for viewing movies, perusing social media, and video calling your friends, the iPad mini 6 is an excellent choice.