The overall form factor and general appearance of the iPad Mini line of smaller tablet computers pretty much remained the same from the first generation, which was introduced in 2012, to the fifth generation, which was introduced in 2019. Hence, the arrival of the iPad Mini 6 has long been anticipated by loyal Apple consumers and industry observers. And it did not disappoint.
But should you really buy this new device? What are the new features compared to the previous generation and the entry-level 9th-generation iPad? Can it be a replacement for the iPad Air 4 or the 5th-generation iPad Pro? How is it different? What are the pros or advantages? What are the cons or drawbacks and disadvantages?
Why You Should Buy: The Pros of iPad Mini 6
1. Pro-Like Hardware Components
Compared to the previous iPad Mini 5 and the 9th-generation iPad, one of the key advantages of the iPad Mini 6 is that it sports the new Apple-designed A15 Bionic system-on-chip found in the iPhone 13 series of smartphones.
Note that this new chip is based on the 5nm process node. It contains 15 billion transistors. The 6-core CPU includes two high-performance Avalanche cores and four energy-efficient Blizzard cores. The 5-core GPU is similar to the iPhone 13 Pro line.
The Pro-like hardware provides up to 40 percent faster CPU performance than the previous generation of Mini and the A14 found in the iPad Air 4, up to 80 percent faster GPU performance, and 2 times faster machine learning via the 16-core Apple Neural Engine.
Performance improvements through the 6-core CPU and 5-core GPU enable this device to run resource-intensive applications to include graphics and video editing apps, graphics-heavy video games, and other productivity apps with ease.
Other hardware specifications include a 6GB of RAM, an option between a 64GB and 256GB of storage, and an improved image signal processor. With all these new components, the iPad Mini 6 is essentially a smaller version of the iPad Air 4 and the 3rd-generation iPad Pro.
2. Bigger and Better Retina Display
One of the selling points of the iPad Mini 6 is its larger screen real estate that is similar to the iPad Pro and the iPad Air 4. The bezels are slimmer and the chin has been removed for an improved screen-to-body ratio.
The 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display is an IPS LCD capable of 500 nits of peak brightness for relatively better outdoor use, ultra-low reflectivity, True Tone for comfortable viewing, and P3 wide color for true-to-life and more vivid images.
A bigger and better display makes this new device ideal not only for content consumption but also for content creation. Watching Netflix and YouTube or playing mobile games is more immersive. The larger screen provides more ground for creating contents.
3. Support for 2nd Gen Apple Pencil
What makes the iPad Mini 6 a smaller version of the iPad Air and iPad Pro is its support for the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil. This add-on accessory is a must-have for users seeking to use a device for productivity purposes without having to carry the larger Air and Pro devices.
The Apple Pencil essentially transforms this device into a mobile digital notebook and sketchbook. It also magnetically attaches and wireless charges on the side of the device. These provide convenience for storage and access for quick note-taking or mark-up needs.
4. Improved Wired and Wireless Connectivity
Another advantage of the iPad Mini 6, especially when compared to the previous generation and the 9th-generation iPad is that it comes with a dual-band Wi-Fi 6. Note that the Wi-Fi 6 standard has a higher theoretical speed than the Wi-Fi 5 standard.
The cellular variant of this device is also equipped with a 5G cellular radio modem for interfacing with 5G networks based on the Sub-6 GHz technology, as well as connectivity to GSM, HSPA, and LTE network technologies.
Similar to the iPad Mini 5 and iPad Air 4, it also features the Bluetooth 5.0 wireless standard that provides significant increases in range and speed, as well as broadcasting capacity. Note that the 9th-generation iPad comes with Bluetooth 4.2 standard.
Apple also ditched the Lightning connector for a USB-C port for faster wired charging and more flexible connectivity with accessories and hardware peripherals such as an external HDD or SSD storage media or third-party gadgetries such as an audio controller.
5. Other Features of the iPad Mini 6
This device also has is a slew of other new features. The 12-megapixel ultra-wide front camera supports the Center Stage software feature, which digitally pans to keep the user centered in the frame while he or she moves within the camera frame.
Furthermore, the 12-megapixel wide camera on the back has Focused Pixels, a large aperture, and True Tone flash that can capture sharper and more vivid images, as well as for higher-quality document scanning regardless of lighting condition.
Because the form factor now features an almost edge-to-edge screen, the Touch ID sensor has been integrated into the top button. The placement makes unlocking the iPad Mini 6 or signing in to apps and websites easier and more accessible.
Why You Should Not Buy: The Cons of iPad Mini 6
1. No Keyboard, 35mm Jack, High Refresh Rate
The Apple-branded keyboard accessories make the entry-level iPad, the iPad Air, and the iPad Pro true mobile productivity devices. Note that the Magic Keyboard makes both the Air and Pro models a possible alternative to laptops. However, when it comes to the iPad Mini 6, it does not have native support for the Magic Keyboard and the Smart Keyboard Folio.
Note that there are keyboard cases available for the Mini from other manufacturers. But this device is simply too small optional keyboard attachments with workable and comfortable key sizes. Of course, users can opt to purchase a wireless keyboard from Apple or third-party manufacturers, but carrying can be inconvenient.
The absence of a 3.5mm headphone jack is also a drawback. Apple has been moving away from wired headphones since the introduction of the iPhone 7 in 2016. Modern iPhones, the iPad Air, and the iPad Pro also do not have native support for the headphone jack. What this means is that users need to purchase a USB-C adapter or a wireless headphone such as the AirPods.
It is also important to mention that the device does not have a high refresh rate despite its bigger and better Retina display. Specifically, it still supports a 60Hz refresh rate. While this might not be an issue for some, the introduction of more devices with 90Hz to 120Hz screens beginning in 2019 and 2020 is normalizing the use case of higher refresh rates.
2. Limited 5G Network Connectivity
Not all 5G-capable devices are the same. Another disadvantage of the iPad Mini 6 is that it has a limited 5G network connectivity. To be specific, it only supports the lower-tiered Sub-6 GHz 5G technology and it cannot interface with 5G networks based on the mmWave 5G technology.
The mmWave technology is superior to the Sub-6 GHz standard. It has better bandwidth, network latency, and data transmission speed. For example, it has a theoretical data transmission speed of between 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Note that the Sub-6 GHz 5G has a theoretical data transmission speed of between 50 Mbps to 200 Mbps.
3. The iPad Mini 6 is Considerably Expensive
Possibly, another reason consumers might not buy the iPad Mini 6 is its price. The base model retails at USD 499 for the 64GB variant and USD 649 for the 256GB variant. Furthermore, the 5G-capable cellular model retails at USD 649 for the 64GB variant and USD 799 for the 256GB variant. There is also no option for either a 128GB or 1TB variant.
Take note that the entry-level 9th-generation iPad retails at USD 479 for the 256GB variant and USD 609 for the cellular 256GB variant. Moreover, the iPad Air 4 has a price tag of USD 749 for the non-cellular 256GB variant, while the 128GB non-cellular based variant of the 11-inch iPad Pro has a starting price of USD 799.
In addition, similar to other supported iPads, the second-generation Apple Pencil is also an optional accessory that does not come out of the box. A user who wants to maximize the full potential and Pro-like capabilities or functionalities of the iPad Mini 6 must spend another USD 129 for this Apple-branded stylus.
Conclusion: Why You Should or Should Not Buy the iPad Mini 6
Should you buy the iPad Mini 6? Or should you choose to opt for another device? The answer to these questions depends. Users who want to move from the older generations of the Mini, those wanting to upgrade from the entry-level iPad, or those who have a smaller and more mobile version of the Air and Pro will find the Mini 6 a worthwhile device.
But it is important to note that this device is not a complete alternative to the iPad Air and iPad Pro despite its powerful hardware capabilities because of the drawbacks mentioned above. The absence of support for a decently-sized keyboard might be a deal-breaker for some. Some might be better off purchasing an entry-level iPad or the iPad Air 4.