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More than 2 years after introducing the previous generation, Apple has finally treated us to a new iPad mini. The compact tablet arrived alongside the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro with a thoroughly revamped design and impressive new features like a bigger screen, a more powerful chip, and optional 5G network connectivity. The colorful newcomer's $499 starting price is $100 higher than its predecessor’s, but well worth the increase.
Since the last iPad was insanely popular among consumers, I began evaluating it with high hopes of it being well worth the 2-year wait. After just a week of testing, the sixth generation thoroughly exceeded my expectations and convinced me that, like the outgoing model, it is the best small tablet worth your attention by an unassailable margin. Here’s why its design, craftsmanship, and everyday performance are in a league of their own.
Design-wise, the new iPad mini looks like a shrunken iPad Air. It has an all-screen design with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor that’s integrated into its power button.
The minimalist aesthetic makes the front of the gadget completely distraction-free and all about the bigger Liquid Retina display. Curiously and for the first time in an iPad, the device’s volume buttons occupy its top left corner in portrait mode, right alongside the power button.
By replacing the below-display fingerprint sensor screen with a more discreet one, Apple made the new iPad mini more compact than the fifth generation, despite rocking a significantly bigger display. The latest iteration is more than a quarter of an inch shorter while remaining as thin and wide.
The latest mini is yet another Apple slate to have an onboard USB-C connector, joining the likes of the iPad Air and the iPad Pro. Along with bringing fast charging and data transfer speeds, the versatile port brings compatibility with countless accessories — from hubs and expandable storage all the way to external monitors with up to 4K resolution.
As expected from any iPad, regardless of its price point, the latest mini has peerless craftsmanship and tactility. Its recycled aluminum housing is lightweight, amazing to interact with, and impossibly elegant. You can order it in a quartet of colors: pink, purple, space gray, and starlight, with the last option having a soft gold finish.
The new mini's larger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display is fantastic and hands down the best I have experienced in a compact tablet to date. Its anti-reflective panel is crisp, plenty bright, and capable of displaying vibrant colors. The screen is also True Tone-compatible, which seamlessly adjusts its color intensity depending on the ambient lighting around you.
Multitasking is easier than ever on the iPad mini, thanks to its bigger screen. During my testing, it proved to be a dependable and particularly convenient tool while navigating my work emails and Slack messages side by side in landscape mode.
And if you're a stylus fanatic (like myself), the iPad mini's screen compatibility with the second-generation Apple Pencil is a major upgrade worth getting excited about. Its bigger screen makes for an excellent space to use the best-in-class input accessory, which you can magnetically snap onto its right side for wireless charging. I spent a few days taking meeting notes, editing photos, relaxing with a coloring book, and, of course, playing Fruit Ninja using the Apple Pencil and found it to be a helpful tool that elevated my user experience with the new iPad mini.
Center Stage — a groundbreaking functionality that debuted on the latest iPad Pro — is the most exciting new camera feature that the iPad mini's front-facing camera brings. By keeping you in the frame like a professional video operator, the Center Stage feature instantly makes your FaceTime calls and virtual work sessions more immersive. The feature can accommodate more than one person, too.
I'll be honest with you — I’m not an advocate for taking pictures with any tablet. I always felt that taking photos is a job meant for smartphones, but the iPad mini has truly changed my mind. It's equipped with a new image sensor and a bright f/1.8 lens, which helps it capture stunning photos that will put many smartphones to shame. To top things off, the iPad mini’s rear-facing camera can record sharp 4K video with exceptional quality at up to 60 frames per second.
Combined with its take-anywhere size and impeccable ergonomics, the updated camera setup of the new iPad mini is great for more than just video communications and augmented reality, to name a couple of tasks. The compact tablet is also a solid tool for creating high-quality content, especially video. Composing scenes and editing footage is significantly more comfortable on the new iPad mini than on a smartphone.
The new iPad mini is the most powerful tablet money can buy, regardless of the screen size. The slate packs the same A15 Bionic chip with a 6-core CPU and a 5-core GPU as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, so there’s no task or workflow that can slow it down. Its 16-core Neural Engine, on the other hand, has next-level machine learning capabilities for a whole new world of app and iPadOS interactions.
I put the mini’s hardware to the test by using it as my go-to workstation with an external Bluetooth keyboard. The tiny iPad made my workflow super easy, which consists of constantly switching between a web browser with a ton of tabs open, emails, Slack, Apple Pages, Tweetbot, Affinity Photo, and iMessage, all while Apple Music streamed tunes in the background.
Gaming on the slate is also super fun. The powerful chip, high-quality display, landscape stereo speakers, and compact housing come together to bring top-tier gameplay, which kept me hooked on playing games for hours.
The mini’s connectivity features are worthy of its powerful chip. The optional 5G network connectivity will get you fast and reliable network speeds no matter where you are, all of which keep up with A15 Bionic. I liked using the tablet from a bench in Central Park without worrying that my at-home Wi-Fi network connection might compromise my productivity.
Best of all, Apple has made significant improvements to the iPad mini's battery life, building the A15 Bionic chip using a 5-nanometer process. Translation? This trickery allows the hardware bit to be both powerful and energy-efficient, which means you’ll easily get a day of use from the iPad mini between charges.
The sixth-generation iPad mini has no competition in the compact tablet space, and rightfully so. It’s the sleekest, most powerful, most capable, most enjoyable, most futureproof product of its kind and worth every penny of its considerable price tag.
Apple iPadOS 15 — the latest release of the tech giant’s iPad platform — perfectly compliments the new mini’s hardware. It has a beautiful and intuitive interface with widgets that can integrate among your favorite apps, easy-to-access multitasking capabilities, and a host of clever new tools like Live Text. More importantly, it offers a selection of tablet-friendly apps that’s yet to be matched by a rival. The same goes for the product’s ecosystem of original and third-party protective cases and accessories.
If you are looking for an awesome tablet that’s more substantial than a big-screen smartphone but not as cumbersome as a full-size slate with a 10-inch+ display panel, the iPad mini sixth generation is the product you’ve been looking for. Its fresh design, meaningful hardware updates, and industry-conquering performance will all but certainly remain unchallenged for years.
The entry-level iPad mini comes with 64GB of storage. You can quadruple it to 256GB for $150 more. The 5G-toting versions of the tablet will cost you $150 extra.
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