Apple’s iPad mini 6 finally has a new face. Big aesthetic changes that will preach the convinced, thanks to a resolutely modern look that does not revolutionize the small tablet.
The iPad mini is a surprising product. So alone in its class, it stands up to everything: its peers are getting bigger and bigger and more affordable, while many of today’s phones rely on a very similar screen size. At Apple, the iPhone stamped Pro Max is based on a diagonal of 6.7 inches when the iPad mini displays 7.9. This was true until 2021, when the Cupertino company finally offers a new face to its smallest slate. It was about time, after five generations.
Because yes, the much appreciated iPad mini (ask the owners what they think about it and you will have the marketing definition of a captive niche) finally changes its face. This is excellent news for the product, whose fourth generation had stretched from 2015 to 2019 – to the point of denoting in a range whose construction has left more than one skeptical. Now, the iPad mini is placed under the iPad Air and the iPad Pro with a similar aesthetic signature. For ultimately quite different uses.
The iPad mini 6 is… cute
It’s hard not to succumb to the iPad mini. There is the mini size, of course, but also its elegant design. We find the strengths of the latest iPad Pro and iPad Air, first materialized by flat edges and rounded edges. They underline a screen covering almost the entire front, rid of this Home button which forces the old iPad to assume a very thick chin.
The latter not only had an impact on the display surface, but also on the design which was more and more outdated over the years. When, in 2019, we had the iPad mini 5 in our hands, we deplored this conservatism – which certainly allows an entry-level iPad to be sold below the € 400 mark. Today, the iPad mini resembles a modern iPad – an observation confirmed by the presence of a USB-C port.
Today, the iPad mini looks like a modern iPad
In fact, there really is this feeling of having a small iPad Air in your hands, if not a big iPhone Pro Max. The truth is certainly between the two, knowing that we obviously find these impeccable finishes. And if the iPad mini 6 has a slightly larger screen (8.3 against 7.9 inches), it is not bigger than its predecessor. For Apple, it was essential to keep control of the measurements, otherwise the mini argument would no longer hold. To unlock, the iPad mini 6 trusts Touch ID, then deported on the ignition button.
On this point, we will not fail to underline the very user-oriented approach: at start-up, the configuration asks to record two different fingerprints, each corresponding to a mode of use: the right index in portrait, the left in landscape . It’s good to have thought about it.
The smaller size of the iPad mini 6, coupled with compatibility with the second-generation Apple Pencil, still forced Apple designers to think about another placement of the dedicated volume buttons. It is found on the upper edge, at the same level as the power supply. We see a more practical side when the iPad is used in landscape mode: the buttons are then found on the left (like an iPhone). From there to seeing a standardization in the whole range? May be. In any case, this new arrangement ensures a more homogeneous design and allows the Apple Pencil to come and fix on the right without changing size. Smart.
An A15 Bionic chip in a small iPad mini
Apple logically reserves its M1 chip for its more productivity-oriented products. This is not the case with the iPad mini 6, which still inherits from the A15 Bionic – the same as the iPhone 13 range (launched the same day). In short, the iPad mini 6 relies on a power that will be difficult to miss in the years to come. Especially since software monitoring tends to stretch more and more over time. $
Flanking the iPad mini 6 with the chip introduced in the latest iPhones is a strong symbol on the part of Apple, which proves that it wants to pamper its compact tablet after having neglected it so much. The USB-C port is the other good news, if only for fast charging. Apple promises up to 10 hours of battery life in video playback. It’s a tad optimistic: the first episode of season 3 of Sex Education – a little over fifty minutes – consumed 13% of the battery, admittedly with the brightness almost full.
The iPad mini is animated by a Liquid Retina display. Although not ultra bright (500 nits at most), it offers sufficient definition not to have to open your eyes, if not to zoom, when you look at it. It’s quite the opposite: we are surprised at the comfort it offers when we read an article on a web page. Its pixel density allows precise rendering, which only lacks 120 Hz fluidity (reserved for iPad and iPhone Pro). We also find the True Tone technology, which adapts the color temperature to the ambient lighting. Thanks to these qualities, the iPad mini 6 can very well become this e-reader that you could easily slip into a bag.
We do not usually recommend the purchase of an iPad to take pictures. Beyond the practicality (it’s too big to aim well), on-board sensors are rarely the most recent on the market. For the iPad mini 6, Apple still wanted to make a little effort: we go from 8 to 12 megapixels (still without portrait mode). As you will see with the example below showing a cat (very cute), the few additional pixels allow you to gain in detail (focus your gaze on the coat or the pillows).
If the tablet can do the trick in an emergency, we are far from the performance of a smartphone. Judge instead, once again admiring the sumptuous coat of our animal mannequin (admire the white hairs, better defined with the iPhone). Up front, the camera also upgrades to 12 megapixels, with the Frame Center feature – which lets you stay on the picture during a video conference call (122-degree field of view). Even the iPad mini 6 is not immune to the coronavirus effect, which has had an impact on remote working.
What can the iPad mini 6 be used for?
I used to say that any iPad is a product dispensable that we are happy to own. Reading: you can easily do without it, but the ease of use it provides in certain situations remains unparalleled. Reading a web page without having a laptop that burns our thighs? Check. Consume a YouTube video with a screen larger than your smartphone? Double check. Quickly read an email, who doesn’t need an immediate response? Triple check. So many simple cases that will never make the iPad an absolute must-have, but which can make life easier from time to time. Therefore, the iPad is not a useless product, but more readily another means of enjoying certain activities. For example, I did not count my hours on the video game Magic arena, very comfortable on the iPad mini while the iPhone screen is small and turning on my computer remains a restrictive logistics for a game on the go. This is where the iPad magic works, by filling this small hole in uses, between two worlds – smartphone / PC – so close and so far at the same time.
The iPad mini remains a somewhat more unfathomable iPad. There is its price list, very unattractive when compared to its big brothers (an iPad Air costs only € 110 more). There is also its format, which is far from the best when you have productivity requirements. You can’t imagine an editor contenting himself with feeding his YouTube channel, while word processing remains a problem. Thus, the virtual keyboard is too narrow for us to feel comfortable, and Apple deprives the iPad mini 6 of a Smart Connector capable of offering it a Smart Keyboard. Proof that even the Cupertino company does not really believe in it, unless it connects it to a classic Bluetooth keyboard.
This very particular format does not either a good iPad for use exclusively at home: an iPad with a larger screen (the 10.9 inches of the Air model), or even very large (the 12.9 inches of the largest Pro), will offer a better experience. In this sense, the iPad mini 6 is the iPad that we love to take with us to replace a smartphone that does not sufficiently highlight its favorite content (a friend uses it like that). It is, in a way, the missing piece of Apple’s collapsible object that does not yet exist (if it ever exists). Once associated, an iPhone and him then become the equivalent of a Galaxy Z Fold 3 – the convenience of folding less.
And yet, we love the iPad mini 6. We love this proposal, this somewhat unique offer. We love its simplicity, the comfort it offers, the ergonomics reinforced by so many years of refining iPadOS (formerly iOS). We should not forget either the professions that do not need a large slate to work. Where a tattoo artist will want to draw on a large iPad Pro, the airline pilot or train driver will prefer a product that is easier to carry for viewing scanned charts. The iPad mini 6 is that ideal doodle book, one in between at the particular target. But that exists and has pushed Apple, in 2021, to update its formula.
IPad mini 6 price and release date
The iPad mini 6 is available from September 24. Four colors are available: Space Gray, Pink, Purple, and Starlight.
Here is the price list :