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Apple iPad Mini (2021) review: This one’s just right

In years previous, the iPad Mini has at all times match into a wierd nook in Apple’s iPad lineup. It didn’t function probably the most highly effective processor, it didn’t assist the newest equipment, and it took design cues from Apple gadgets that have been already a number of years outdated. The solely actually distinctive promoting level was its dimension.

With the discharge of the 2021 sixth technology iPad Mini, Apple has flipped the script. It retains the identical small footprint, however packs some options which can be solely discovered on the high-end iPad Pro fashions.

But is that sufficient to sway consumers away from bigger tablets, or encourage current customers to improve? Find out extra in Android Authority’s 2021 iPad Mini evaluate.

About this iPad Mini evaluate: I examined the sixth technology Apple iPad Mini (64GB/Wi-Fi) over a interval of 14 days. It was initially operating iPadOS 15.0 and was later upgraded twice to iPadOS 15.0.2. The iPad Mini (2021) unit was bought by Android Authority for this evaluate.

What it’s essential know in regards to the iPad Mini (2021)

iPad Mini 2021 purple in hand

Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

  • iPad Mini (Wi-Fi solely, 64GB): $499 / £479 / €549
  • iPad Mini (Wi-Fi solely, 256GB): $649 / £619 / €719
  • iPad Mini (Wi-Fi + Cellular, 64GB): $649 / £619 / €719
  • iPad Mini (Wi-Fi + Cellular, 256GB): $799 / £759 / €889

The sixth technology iPad Mini launched on September 24, 2021, a yr and a half after the discharge of the earlier mannequin. It represents a big redesign, with enhancements to each exterior and inside elements of the gadget.

The display screen, whereas nonetheless a 60Hz LCD panel, now measures 8.3 inches and options rounded corners like different trendy Apple gadgets. The edges of the gadget are actually flat, and the Touch ID reader has moved from the entrance of the gadget to the highest, alongside the quantity rockers.

Read additionally: The greatest pill offers

Despite the bigger display screen, the 2021 iPad Mini is barely lighter and smaller (aside from an unnoticeable 2mm enhance in thickness), and retains the identical 10-hour battery life. It achieves this due to the highly effective and energy-efficient A15 Bionic chip, which is identical chipset discovered within the newest iPhone 13 lineup.

Other notable adjustments embody assist for the Apple Pencil 2 ($119), which attaches to the facet of the gadget to cost. It additionally drops Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector in favor of the now-ubiquitous USB-C. That means your whole USB-C equipment now work with the iPad Mini, and there’s even a USB-C charger within the field, in case you don’t have already got one. These days, a charger within the field is nearly a luxurious function in Apple merchandise.

However, all of this comes at the next value than earlier fashions. The least expensive iPad Mini will run you $499, and the costliest mannequin with mobile connectivity runs $799. That’s scratching on the heels of the 11-inch iPad Pro, which additionally begins at $799. That mentioned, one is designed to be a laptop computer substitute and the opposite a extra moveable, pocketable pill expertise.

The Apple iPad Mini is available in Space Gray, Pink, Purple, and Starlight. It is in the stores from Apple, Amazon, and different main retailers globally.

How is the brand new design?

iPad Mini review 2021 camera bump fingerprint reader

Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

Speaking as somebody who has used the earlier iPad Mini on daily basis for the previous two years, the brand new design is a much-needed breath of recent air. The curved edges and bodily dwelling button have been already outdated in 2019, and now the iPad Mini seems to be like its counterparts within the higher echelons of Apple’s merchandise.

Initially, I used to be frightened that the bigger display screen would make the gadget harder to carry, however the bezels on the facet of the display screen are the identical dimension as earlier than, with solely the highest and backside bezels decreased. It’s nonetheless very straightforward to carry with one hand. I’m not completely bought on the flat edges from a usability perspective (there’s little or no grip), however they actually do look nicer.

The 2021 iPad Mini now takes design cues from Apple’s premium iPad Pro lineup.

The display screen itself is significantly bigger than its predecessor. A soar from 7.9 inches to eight.3 inches doesn’t sound like a lot, nevertheless it’s really considerably extra actual property. Plus, the added house makes the show longer and extra suited to streaming media consumption. You’ll nonetheless see black bars on the 14:9 show, which is someplace between 4:3 and 16:9.

See additionally: The greatest equipment you will get for the iPad

Unfortunately, the display screen itself is… high quality. Despite the supposed improve from a “Retina” show to a “Liquid Retina” show, it’s nonetheless just a 60Hz LCD panel (now with rounded corners). It maintains the identical excessive 327ppi (increased than even the iPad Pro) and nice brightness of the earlier mannequin, however aside from the scale enhance, it isn’t a lot of an enchancment and sadly lacks the graceful “ProMotion” adaptive refresh charge of Apple’s Pro tablets and smartphones.

Although there’s no Face ID right here, it does have a fingerprint unlock situated on the facility button on the high of the gadget. This is far more handy than the earlier location on the entrance of the gadget, and it’s each bit as quick.

What’s it like to make use of iPadOS 15?

iPad Mini review 2021 landscape in hand

Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

Apart from the bodily redesign of the iPad Mini, it additionally launched with a brand new software program replace in iPadOS 15. It isn’t an enormous change from earlier variations of the tablet-only OS, and many of the new options are pretty irrelevant on the iPad Mini.

iPadOS 15’s keystone additions all need to do with multitasking. It’s now simpler to create cut up views with a number of apps and swap between apps with a brand new app shelf. There are different productiveness options like focus mode (basically a elaborate don’t disturb) and extra keyboard shortcuts.

Many new iPadOS 15 options solely apply to bigger, productivity-focused iPads.

These are unbelievable on the bigger iPads, and push them nearer than ever to turning into true laptop computer replacements. The iPad Mini, nevertheless, remains to be just too small to make use of with split-screen. Get a bigger iPad if that’s primarily what you’re after.

Of course, there’s far more to iPadOS 15 than just multitasking. Widgets are actually immediately in your homescreen (as a substitute of in a wonky pull-out menu), and different options like Quick Notes pair completely with the Apple Pencil 2. Just swipe up from the underside left nook of the display screen to scribble down a notice which is then accessible from your whole Apple gadgets.

Read additionally: Apple’s iPadOS 15 is a wake-up name for Android pill makers

Like iOS, iPadOS additionally now helps app drawers, so you possibly can maintain your house display screen organized and streamlined. You additionally acquire entry to the App Store ecosystem, which for all its faults remains to be extremely sturdy. If you employ an iPhone, Mac, or Macbook, there are much more integrations to discover. This is along with all of Apple’s companies like Apple TV Plus, Apple Music, and Apple Arcade.

How is the battery life?

iPad Mini 2021 on table

Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

Like the earlier iPad Mini, Apple guarantees 10 hours of battery life, and that was largely the case in our testing. After a number of days of heavy use with video conferences and graphically intensive video games, it achieved effectively over seven hours of screen-on time. Under extra typical use instances like internet shopping and media consumption, it simply achieved 10 hours or extra.

Granted, these numbers are for the Wi-Fi-only mannequin we used for testing. The mobile fashions might even see barely worse battery efficiency.

Charging is a little bit of a combined bag. As somebody who doesn’t use an iPhone, the swap to USB-C charging meant I might lastly eradicate Apple’s proprietary Lighting chargers from my life totally. Good riddance.

The iPad Mini achieved seven hours of battery life in heavy use and over 10 hours in customary use.

However, the included 20W charger isn’t the quickest and took about 90 minutes to cost from 10 to 100%. Charging from 10 to 50% took just half-hour. Apple isn’t recognized for being on the forefront on the subject of quick charging, with even its premium iPhone 13 lineup utilizing 30W chargers.

Related: The greatest charging equipment

That mentioned, tablets must be held to a unique customary than telephones on the subject of charging. You’re a lot much less prone to want a fast top-up of a pill you employ for a number of hours a day than you’re a cellphone that you just use all day on daily basis. I sometimes learn and browse the online for an hour or so earlier than sleeping, and beneath these circumstances, the battery lasted for effectively over per week.

How highly effective is the iPad Mini (2021)?

iPad Minir review iPadOS 15 homescreen

Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

In a phrase, the iPad Mini’s efficiency is spectacular. It makes use of the identical A15 Bionic processor as the newest iPhone 13 lineup, which is heads and tails above the earlier mannequin’s A12 Bionic processor. This pill punches far above its weight restrict, and must be able to dealing with all the things you possibly can throw at it, each right now and for years to come back.

Although it isn’t listed on the official specs, it additionally contains 4GB of RAM, up from 3GB within the earlier iteration. This would possibly sound low, however Apple’s software program is remarkably environment friendly. Even the top-of-the-line iPhone 13 Pro Max solely has 6GB of RAM. In on a regular basis use, you gained’t discover a factor.

The greatest disappointment right here is the restricted 64GB of base storage.

The iPad Mini by no means missed a beat when streaming video, enjoying demanding video games, or opening a number of apps in split-screen. It gained’t deal with actually skilled apps as easily because the iPad Pro lineup will, however then once more, it isn’t actually designed to.

Perhaps the largest disappointment right here is the restricted 64GB of storage on the 2 base fashions, with no expandable storage. While that is serviceable for individuals who primarily stream content material, it’s woefully unequipped for downloading media and putting in a number of storage-heavy apps. To make issues worse, the following step up is 256GB and runs a full $150 extra.

There have been stories that the gadget suffers from jelly scrolling, the place one facet of the display screen scrolls extra slowly than the opposite, however I didn’t expertise this in any respect when testing the iPad Mini for this evaluate. Either means, it’s not one thing that ought to cease you from shopping for this gadget.

Anything else?

iPad Mini 6th gen angled

Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

  • Front-facing digital camera: The 12MP ultra-wide front-facing digital camera is greater than serviceable, and mixed with the brand new Center Stage tech it makes the iPad Mini a superb gadget for 1080p HD video chatting on the go. When activated, it would focus the digital camera on any face it detects to offer you a tighter shot. Note that it’s positioned within the heart of the highest bezel, so it’s possible you’ll look like staring off into the space in panorama mode.
  • Rear digital camera: The 12MP rear digital camera is a slight enchancment over the earlier mannequin, however nonetheless not an enormous performer. There’s additionally not one of the cool LiDAR assist present in premium iPad Pro fashions. To home the bigger sensor, a slight digital camera bump stands out from a nook of the gadget, though it’s not giant sufficient to trigger the iPad Mini to rock when sitting on a desk.
  • Connectivity: All iPad Mini fashions assist Wi-Fi 6, and the mobile fashions all assist 5G. However, they don’t assist mmWave, which is a slight hit to futureproofing. Still, this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for nearly anybody right now whereas the superior networking is so scarce (particularly outdoors the US). The mobile fashions function a barely completely different design to the aluminum edges that home the antennae, however nothing that you just’d discover with out placing the 2 facet by facet.
  • Audio: The iPad Mini options succesful stereo audio system, one on the high and one on the backside for loud and clear audio. Like the 2020 iPad Air, it drops the headphone jack, which is now discovered paradoxically solely discovered on the most cost effective iPad.
  • Keyboard case: Unlike the remainder of the iPad lineup, Apple doesn’t promote a suitable keyboard case, though iPadOS will work with most Bluetooth keyboards and mice.

iPad mini specs

Apple iPad Mini (2021)
Display 8.3-inch Liquid Retina LCD
1,488 x 2,266 pixels
327ppi
Processor Apple A15 Bionic
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB
256GB
Camera Main:
12MP digital camera (vast)
ƒ/1.8 aperture

Front:
12MP (ultrawide)
ƒ/2.4 aperture

Battery 19.3Wh
Rated for 10 hours
Headphone jack No
Dimensions 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3mm
Weight Wi-Fi: 293g
LTE: 297g
Ports USB-C
Charger included
Colors Space Gray, Pink, Purple, Starlight

Value and competitors

2021 iPad Mini

Apple iPad Mini (2021)

The teeny tiny iPad will get a 2021 refresh with extra energy.

The smallest within the iPad line has some new energy beneath the hood for 2021 in addition to Apple Pencil (2nd Gen) assist.

Starting at $499, the iPad Mini prices a full $100 greater than the earlier mannequin. That places it in a precarious place just under the 2020 iPad Air ($599). Both gadgets are glorious tablets, and which one you select will rely extra on what dimension you need somewhat than any value distinction.

However, if you wish to step up from the bottom 64GB of storage, the worth is significantly worse. You’ll must drop $150 extra for 256GB, which is identical premium charged on the iPad Air (although that too solely has 64GB storage). Bear in thoughts that the brand new USB-C charging port additionally makes it simpler to make use of with exterior arduous drives for individuals who want heaps of storage and you may as well join iCloud storage plans, however that gained’t reduce it for apps.

The iPad Pro lineup, whereas distinctive gadgets, are in a totally completely different class. They’re greatest paired with equipment like a Magic Keyboard ($279) and Apple Pencil 2 ($119), which is able to put the full value at effectively over twice an iPad Mini. Plus, they’re designed with productiveness in thoughts, whereas the iPad Mini is extra for play.

Read additionally: The greatest Android tablets to spend your cash on

On the Android facet of the fence, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8.4 ($279) is the closest you’ll discover to the iPad Mini expertise. It’s just a hair bigger, and regardless of the paltry 32GB of onboard storage, it helps microSD playing cards as much as 512GB. That mentioned, it’s extra of a funds gadget, so don’t anticipate many premium trappings. If you possibly can wait a bit longer, the anticipated 2021 Galaxy Tab A8 refresh is anticipated within the close to future and will present a extra compelling different.

The bigger Samsung Galaxy Tab S7/S7 Plus ($579) and Tab S7 FE ($599) are a good worth and embody a stylus within the field, however size-wise they’re extra according to the iPad Pro lineup than the iPad Mini. The latter can be significantly underpowered in comparison with Apple’s iPads, particularly the 5G variant. The smaller, extra rugged Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 ($489) would possibly match the invoice, however with growing old specs and a chunky design, it doesn’t fairly match Apple’s providing.

If you’re actually on a decent funds, the Amazon Fire HD 8 ($89) is roughly the identical dimension and prices considerably much less. However, it’s constructed like a funds pill, and also you’ll need to endure by Amazon’s heavy-handed promoting. Plus, it doesn’t have Google apps.

iPad Mini evaluate: The verdict

6th gen iPad Mini review purple flat showing rear view and camera

Nick Fernandez / Android Authority

For anybody available in the market for a small pill, there’s little doubt that the iPad Mini is the most effective pill you will get. Aside from the middling show, the diminutive pill does all of it with only a few compromises.

The bigger display screen means it’s now not relegated to area of interest makes use of and might function a succesful media companion. The wider side ratio is now far more streaming-friendly, and the small dimension means it gained’t tire your arms throughout lengthy streaming or studying periods.

The iPad Mini is definitely the most effective small pill in the marketplace, lastly providing one thing for everyone.

Unlike the iPad Air and iPad Pro, the iPad Mini doesn’t attempt to be something however a pill. Despite being each bit as highly effective as its bigger cousins (barring the ultra-premium M1 iPad Pro fashions), Apple doesn’t even attempt to upsell you with a magic keyboard to show the iPad Mini right into a mini laptop computer substitute.

And it’s all the higher for it. It’s not a productiveness powerhouse, however it’s an absolute delight to make use of.

Check out: The greatest iPad offers

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