When Apple announced the all-new iPad Mini during their iPhone 13 event, I was confused whether or not people still use the mini or not. The last update that iPad Mini got was in 2019 i.e., with a slightly better display and processor.
Apple revamped the iPad Mini with an all-new design, 3nd Gen Apple Pencil support, USB-C charging port all at a higher price of $499 for 64GB of storage.
iPad Air Shrunk
The iPad Mini looks exactly the same as the iPad Air in a small form factor with its edge-to-edge all-screen display, Touch ID embedded in the power button as Apple has ditched the home button and has added the USB-C charging port.
At first glance, the bezels on the iPad mini do feel thick when comparing it to the iPad Pro's, but as I started using the Mini I found that it is just the right size for its small form factor as they can be used to get a grip on the iPad.
The new iPad Mini comes with an 8.3-inch display up from its previous 7.9-inch display. The new Mini comes with Apple's Liquid Retina panel with a resolution of 2255 x 1488 and 326ppi of brightness along with the same 60-hertz refresh rate which is not a huge upgrade from the previous Mini.
Apple has adopted a rounded-rectangle-shaped design for the new Mini display as well as the overall design to give it a fresh look and match it with the rest of the lineup. Except for the small form factor, the iPad Mini to me felt like an iPad Air due to their design similarities.
The flat edges and removal of the home button allowed Apple to put Touch ID on the Power Button alongside the volume buttons on the top and a USB-C port on the bottom. As expected there is no headphone jack on the new generation of the Mini.
Touch ID has no difference whatsoever when compared to the previous generation, it is still very responsive. Apple has utilized the gyro-sensors properly in the iPad Mini meaning the volume buttons adjust their positions as per the iPad Minis orientation.
Apple has also added USB-C to the iPad Mini allowing it to charge more efficiently and connect to a range of more peripherals. Apple Pencil 2 support has also been added and could be charged by magnetically sticking to the right edge of the tablet which was the primary reason for Apple to move the power button to the top as the pencil is almost as big as the iPad itself.
Unlike the iPad Air, Apple has omitted its smart connector pins from the iPad Mini meaning that the Mini cannot be connected to a Magic Keyboard or other smart connector peripherals.
Apple gave the cameras on the iPad Mini a huge upgrade with the new 12MP wide camera with an f/1.8 aperture giving the Mini a camera bump, with 5x digital zoom, Quad-LED TrueTone flash, and support for Smart HDR 3. The new camera system can shoot up to 4K 60 fps videos and Slo-Motion videos up to 1080 240 fps. I don't know how many people use the iPad for photography, I mainly use it to scan documents and for that, the camera is more than capable.
The front-facing camera got a big boost this generation with an all-new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage similar to the M1 iPad Pros which automatically pans and zooms to keep you in the frame during video calls. In simpler terms, if you are using FaceTime the camera will follow you around as you move and if someone else enters the frame the camera will automatically adjust itself to fit that person in the call.
Under the hood, the iPad Mini has an A15 Bionic chip to make it feel snappy. The iPad was able to handle everything that I threw at it i.e., content consumption on Disney+ or Netflix, replying to emails, taking my college notes using Goodnotes 5, browsing the web with multiple tabs, playing games like Dragon Ball Legends, PUBG Mobile, Pokemon Unite, etc. I never saw the iPad Mini slow down or feel sluggish.
Though I did miss the Pro-Motion display present in the iPad Pros which allows the display to adjust its refresh rate as per the content present on the screen (from 10Hz to 120Hz).
By no means is the iPad Mini a laptop replacement like Apple claims for their iPad Pro series. The iPad Mini comes in two storage options i.e., 64GB and 256GB both having a $150 price difference.
Apple Pencil Experience
The new design also brings support for the 2nd generation Apple Pencil to the iPad Mini which snaps to the right side of the iPad when not being used and charges simultaneously.
I use my Apple Pencil regularly with my iPad Pro to take notes and I found the iPad Mini to be perfect for the same due to its small form factor, I can carry it around in my back pocket (without the Apple Pencil). The small form factor mainly contributes to this as it allows me to easily balance the iPad while taking notes, but I still prefer taking notes on the Mini while it is in landscape mode as it allows me to rest my hand on the screen while writing.
iPadOS 15 makes it easier to take notes with its Quick Note feature that allows you to drag a notepad by simply swiping from the bottom-right corner of the screen and anything you type is automatically saved in the notes app. Apple Notes has come a long way with its robust features and can now even replace two of the most popular note-taking applications i.e., GoodNotes and Notability.
Apple estimates that the iPad Mini will last for 10 hours at a charge. For me watching videos, browsing through Twitter, replying to emails, playing games, taking notes, I had to charge the iPad Mini every night or sometimes even earlier with the battery lasting for around 5-6 hours which is not impressive, I wish that the Mini had better battery life.
But the new USB-C port (20 Watt USB-C charger in the box) allows the iPad to charge quickly and even connect to a range of external accessories like external HDD/SSD, DSLRs, Monitors, etc.
The iPad Mini got its long-overdue redesign this year along with a bunch of new features like the new cameras with the front having center stage support, better speakers, USB-C, etc. But it is not all gold, the 60Hz panel feels a little slow to me, but that could be that I am used to the ProMotion display on the iPad Pro, the battery life could be better.
Also, the price of the Mini makes it a weird deal meaning if you go for the 256GB option you are already entering the iPad Air price range which offers a lot more features than the Mini like a bigger display, support for Apple Magic Keyboard, and better battery, and here also if you increase the storage capacity you are reaching 11-inch iPad Pro price range which now adds a better display, ProMotion, FaceID, and better battery.
If you are thinking of buying the iPad Mini you must know exactly what you need it for else go for the Air or the Pro. The iPad Mini is a great device, but the small form factor is not for me, so I will stick to using my 11-inch iPad Pro.