https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/09/25/hands-on-with-the-small-and-mighty-6th-generation-ipad-mini? [videos not included below]
Hands on with the small and mighty 6th-generation iPad mini
Andrew O’Hara | Sep 25, 2021
After years of fairly disappointing routine upgrades, the iPad mini finally got some love from Apple’s engineers. We go hands on with Apple’s most compact, but surprisingly powerful little tablet.
A gorgeous display
Front and center on the new iPad mini is that gorgeous display.
The new Liquid Retina display measures up at 8.3 inches, up from 7.9 inches on the prior generation. Liquid Retina is Apple’s term for displays with rounded corners that seem to blend into the frame of the device rather than having sharp 90-degree corners.
Even though it’s an updated display, its other specs remain the same. It’s still at 500 nits of typical brightness, with P3 wide color gamut support and a pixel density of 326 PPI.
iPad mini 6
Equipped with the A15 Bionic chip and an edge-to-edge 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display, the 2021 iPad mini (6th Gen) also supports the second-generation Apple Pencil.
The flat sides make the tablet easier to hold for us, as it just sits in our hands a bit easier and feels almost like a massive iPhone. if only this could fold in half…
LaCie Rugged Drive connected over USB-C to iPad mini 6
This new design comes complete with USB-C for connecting various peripherals, and support for Apple Pencil 2 that can magnetically connect along the right edge.
Apple Pencil 2 on iPad mini 6
We will say that coming from Face ID on the iPad Pro and iPhone, having to use Touch ID is very annoying. It felt so tedious as we sat here playing with tablet to always have to reach up to authenticate with that upper button.
It isn’t as annoying in landscape mode as your left index finger is right there, but when vertical, we absolutely missed Face ID. Considering how many high-end features Apple added to the mini we’re a little surprised Face ID didn’t make the cut.
This is especially true since you can wake the display with just a tap of your finger. We’d tap, swipe up, only to be denied entry until we tapped the side button.
Lots of power
This little guy may be petite, but it is packing some crazy power. Apple outfitted this tablet with the newest A15 Bionic processor.
Not just the A15 Bionic though, it is almost identical to the one in iPhone 13 Pro that contains the bonus GPU core.
Geekbench ML results on the new iPad mini and iPhone 13 Pro Max
We ran a few quick benchmarks ahead of the full review, but we were very happily impressed. In the Geekbench ML test, iPad mini 6 beat our iPhone 13 Pro Max, scoring a 908 compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 805.
They were very close in the standard Geekbench 5 GPU Compute test and the CPU test, unsurprisingly.
Finally, good cameras
We’re not sure what convinced Apple to finally put some real cameras on these new iPad minis, but we’re guessing the pandemic had something to do with it. With many people working or being educated from home, a good front-facing camera suddenly became very important.
Rear camera of the Space Gray iPad mini 6
In this new iPad mini 6, that front-facing camera went from 7MP to a whopping 12MP. It also can now shoot 4K video and has a wide 122-degree field of view.
This change enables Center Stage, Apple’s feature that can automatically track you and keep you in the frame during video calls. It works in FaceTime, as well as third-party apps like Zoom.
The back camera has been updated as well, going from 8MP to 12MP and can also now support 4K video recording.
We wish Apple’s Photographic Styles came to iPad mini but for some reason that is relegated to the iPhone 13 lineup. At least iPad mini isn’t as embarrassing for taking photos as the iPad Pro is.
Stay tuned for our full review of the brand new 2021 iPad mini 6 very soon.
Where to buy
Space Gray iPad mini 6
Apple’s newest iPad mini is already on sale, with the latest prices at your fingertips in the AppleInsider iPad mini 6 Price Guide.
– Sep. 24th 2021 10:14 am PT
I’ve only spent a few hours with the new iPad mini, but I can confidently say that it’s fantastic. It’s not perfect, no product is, but Apple has done something wonderful with the iPad mini this generation. These are my first impressions of using the 6th generation iPad mini on launch day.
The perfect size
First off, the iPad mini is the perfect size. It’s smaller than the previous generation and you can feel it. I would say the closest thing to compare the new iPad mini to is a standard size Moleskine journal. I can comfortably hold it in one hand, although it’s trickier to do so when the Apple Pencil is stuck to the side.
The new iPad mini is not that much bigger than an iPhone 13 Pro Max. But don’t think this means owning both is duplicitous. This iPad mini is a major power house. Not only does it have the same A15 chip that’s inside the iPhone 13 Pro, it runs iPadOS instead of iOS. The new iPad mini feels like what an iPhone would feel like if it could fold open like a book. You can also of course use apps in split view, throw one app on top of another with slide over, write text with scribble, and more.
iPadOS on a small scale
Modern versions of iPadOS are heavily focused on productivity, and iPad mini is by no means a “productivity device.” You’re not going to want to write long papers or articles on it or do serious vector design work. But I’m already loving the experience of watching video on it. It’s super light in the hand and makes it easy to view at just about any angle.
iPadOS widgets are super tiny on iPad mini, so are Home Screen icons. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but you should know what you’re getting. Luckily, the new “large app icons” setting for the Home Screen makes the experience much better.
Typing on the iPad mini is an absolute dream. I can easily and comfortably thumb type on it very quickly. It’s great for texting, taking a quick note, or sending off an email reply. Some apps aren’t quite optimized yet for the new display size of iPad mini. Apps like LinkedIn show black bars on the top and bottom. iPhone apps like Instagram feel great on iPad mini. They aren’t blurry and they scale quite nicely. You can also use iPhone apps in landscape mode now with iPadOS 15.
A great display, but not the best
The display on the new iPad mini is quite nice, but it’s not Apple’s strongest offering. The best things about it are the wide color gamut and the ultra-dense pixels. The biggest knock against it is that it doesn’t get quite bright enough for my taste. I know that I’ll adjust to it quickly, but out of the box it’s very apparent that this display is inferior in terms of brightness to the iPad Pro. Fortunately, though, it’s on par with the iPad Air. So if you regularly use one of those, you won’t notice a difference.
I’m not going to knock the iPad mini for not having ProMotion. It’s clear that Apple is reserving that as a “pro” feature both on iPad and iPhone for the time being. It’s not an issue, iPadOS still feels incredibly smooth. But you will notice it’s missing if you use one of the new iPhone 13 Pro models or an iPad Pro.
The volume buttons being on the top of iPad mini isn’t a huge deal. But it does make taking screenshots a tad tedious. It requires two hands rather than one on the iPad Air and iPad Pro.
The speakers are tremendous. They’re loud, have good bass, and sound really nice. For a device this thin and small, the speakers are impressive. Not quite as impressive as the iPad Pro, but still very good.
The three new colors that Apple has chosen for the iPad mini are really interesting. I’m not quite sure how I feel about them yet. I got the starlight model and I can confidently say it feels like a dirty silver. It’s very clearly gold in some lighting and very clearly silver in others. The purple and pink colors are nice but not punchy enough in my opinion. Space gray is space gray, not much else to say.
The new iPad mini is available now both in-stores and online. It starts at $499 with 64GB of storage and Wi-Fi. You can go up to 256GB or add 5G connectivity, although that significantly increases the price. It comes in four colors: starlight, space gray, pink, and purple.