iPad mini review

The most compact of the iPads finally benefits from a modernized design and an 8.3-inch screen now. Not to mention the A15, a monster that gives it power and autonomy for today and tomorrow.

THE OPINION OF MACBOUND.COM

Apple iPad mini

MOST

  • + The new design and larger screen
  • + The power of the A15
  • + The gain in autonomy
  • + Support for the 2nd generation Apple Pencil
  • + The front camera module for Center Stage

THE LESSERS

  • – Screen borders still wide proportionally
  • – The improved, but the unique rear camera module

In the now large family of iPads, the mini occupies a special place, which comes down to its size, essentially, but not only. It’s not a small entry-level tablet, it’s been the counterpart of the iPad Air for several iterations – to the point that it uses the same chips and the same accessories. Sometimes with a bit of a lag, as the iPad mini seems to escape regular update cycles.

A redesign, and cascading changes

In this case, the iPad mini had not been updated since March 2019, and its design was almost unchanged from its origins: its 7.9-inch screen had evolved a little over time, but was still marked by wide borders, while a Touch ID button sat at the bottom of the screen, overcoming a Lightning port that seemed unbootable. The sixth iPad mini of the name, which Apple introduced upstream of its new iPhones, puts an end to all this.

In a slightly more compact case, Tim Cook’s teams have managed to slip in an 8.3-inch diagonal screen. We are therefore entitled to more display space, even if the black borders, thinner than those present on the previous iPad minis and very tolerable on the iPad Pro and Air, sometimes give the opposite impression. Just a little more effort.

The edges of the iPad mini are now much thinner, even if the compactness of the case makes them appear wider than they are.
The edges of the iPad mini are now much thinner, even if the compactness of the case makes them appear wider than they are.

This change in design, inspired by that of the iPad Pro, with more frank vertical slices, involved a nice series of changes. The first is at the level of ergonomics. While the width of the case is strictly identical, the iPad mini is much better held with one hand, fingers apart. 

This comes in handy for different uses, including taking quick notes with the stylus in hand – we still don’t see ourselves taking notes of meetings or class times. For greater comfort, it is better to be able to support the iPad mini on a horizontal support.

Yet on that front, the sixth-generation mini boasts unexpected compatibility with the second-generation Apple Pencil. It’s much more pleasant to use and easy to keep charged, so you’re always ready, without getting stuck in the water. 

The stylus will indeed be magnetized and recharged on the right side of the small tablet. Quite simply. However, it occupies the entire length (or height, if you prefer to use it in portrait mode).

This seemingly innocuous choice nevertheless required removing the volume buttons on the upper edge of the tablet, in the left corner. The right is taken by the On/Off button, where the Touch ID button has been slid, as on the latest generation iPad Air.

As on the Air, the biometric identification button is rather easy to access and is very responsive. Two small points of interest here, first of all, iPadOS 15 (and us too) encourages you to register the fingers of two hands so that you can easily unlock the tablet in portrait and landscape mode. 

Then, we note that Apple has, once again, paying attention to detail. Whether you’re using the iPad mini one way or another, the volume down button is always the bottom or right one.

On the left, the Touch ID button, integrated into the On Off switch. On the far right, the sound volume adjustment buttons.
On the left, the Touch ID button is integrated into the On-Off switch. On the far right, are the sound volume adjustment buttons.

Finally, among the notable “physical” changes, the Lightning port is replaced by a USB-C port, to begin with, which opens the door to some interesting accessories and uses, especially for photographers, who would like to offload their devices and view their snaps quickly.

More display

Let’s go back to the larger screen, as we said (0.4 inches), which comes with a better definition (2266×1488 pixels), for an identical resolution of 326 pixels per inch. This display gain can be felt and measured, with a screen ratio (occupation of the panel on the front facade) rising sharply, to 77.8% for the iPad mini 2021, against 69.4% for the 2019 model, and the previous ones. 

If the progress is therefore real to give more space to the display, we see that Apple still has room to do real edge to edge…

The Cupertino giant still uses LCD technology – sorry, no OLED, and no microLED either, like on the bigger Pro models. It is adorned with almost everything that Apple can offer in this area, apart from Pro Motion technology, which allows you to vary the refresh rate of the panel, depending on the uses, of what is displayed. 

We thus find the P3 technology, diverted from the world of cinema, and which provides coverage of a wider color gamut. True Tone technology, which adjusts the color warmth of the panel according to ambient light, is also present. 

In addition, the panel is always laminated, in order to reduce the spaces between the various components of the screen, which makes the whole more compact, less sensitive to reflection, and gives an impression of direct interaction with the display.

Support for the 2nd generation Apple Pencil makes it easier to take notes, or to use a stylus more regularly.
Support for the 2nd generation Apple Pencil makes it easier to take notes or to use a stylus more regularly.

In terms of brightness and contrast, Apple has improved its panel compared to that of the previous generation. The brightness exceeds the 500 nits announced, with a measurement of 519 cd / m2. As for the contrast, it goes from 872:1 to 1364:1, which marks a good progression, and further enhances video content and photos. 

With such a panel, the iPad mini continues to be an excellent alternative to e-readers. Comfortable and easy on the eyes enough to be used for reading marathons.

The only point on which the iPad mini 6 is set back compared to its elder is on the Delta E2000, which measures the difference between the true value of a color and its rendering on the screen. The new iPad mini has an index of 2.01, compared to 1.53 for the 2019 generation.

It’s a little worse, but still quite exceptional. It is estimated that at 2, a trained human eye cannot tell the difference between the two interpretations of color.

Power, for what?

In addition to this new design and this larger LCD panel which is attractive, the sixth-generation iPad mini has the A15 Bionic at its heart. This is the latest SoC to come out of Apple’s labs. It has six cores for the CPU part, divided into two high-performance cores and four less efficient cores, but much more energy efficient.

Like the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPad Air is entitled to a model with 5 GPU cores, and obviously, the neural network part is renewed and equipped with 16 cores.

To say the 2021 iPad mini isn’t lacking in power is an understatement. To say that it largely dominates the 5th generation iPad mini, released in 2019 and equipped with an A12 Bionic, is obvious.

If the “iPad” experience is still as good, made of fluidity, speed, and a variety of applications, the benchmarking tools put some impressive figures on this domination.

Geekbench 5 gives it an increase in power of 110% for the processor part, and 196.5% for the Compute part, which puts the SoC to the test to simulate uses for video games, photo editing, or editing. video. 

The new iPad mini is therefore a good candidate to become a small video game console, especially if you subscribe to Apple Arcade, which now contains some treasures worthy of real portable and home consoles.

But it will also allow you to draw, edit heavy images, work on 4K video streams, etc., if its screen size suits you – obviously, the arrival of USB-C makes it easier for you to consider duplicating or extending the display on an external screen.

iPad mini can do almost anything. This versatility blurs the lines a bit when it comes to determining who this tablet is intended for. For a family? Yes, definitely, but she’s a bit too small to look at pictures, sprawled in a cluster of parents and children on the sofa, or even write a presentation. 

And then the iPad 2021 will undoubtedly be just as suitable for these uses if not as powerful and redesigned. The mini can, in any case, serve as a console for children (and adults) or as a second/third screen if everyone does not want to watch the second season of Ted Lasso – which is certainly a mistake.

For students? Yes, no doubt, the second-generation Apple Pencil makes it a good tablet for taking notes, even if the writing comfort will be less than with an iPad Air, it is true more expensive. 

And it will also be necessary to do without Smart Connectors, so practical for connecting a keyboard, even if a keyboard shell would certainly be too small for comfortable typing. Not to mention that the screen is a bit small, too, to really take advantage of “productive” multitasking, where you juxtapose a word processor and a browser, for example.

Finally, for professionals? Everything will again depend on the need for the display area, and to some extent on performance too, the M1 offering more power, of course. For drawing, the 8.3 is perhaps a bit too low. For video, ditto… In any case, on the connectivity side, between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G support (on cellular models), the mini has enough to cover a wide range of use cases.

Even if the photographic module on the back of the iPad mini 2021 is improved, we are still a little unsatisfied.
Even if the photographic module on the back of the iPad mini 2021 is improved, we are still a little unsatisfied.

Apple wants its mini to be the best and most compact iPad experience, and it is. However, it will be criticized for not having bet more on photography – despite its new camera module, equipped with a new sensor (12 Mpixels against 8 previously) and an improved optical block (f / 1.8 against f2.4), as well as a flash, finally! It films in 4K and takes honest shots in bright light.

Compact and light as it is, the iPad mini 2021 could very well have become a camera for those who need a large viewfinder. It is enough to walk in a tourist place to realize that taking photos with a tablet is not taboo. Too bad, then, that the iPad mini does not occupy this ground better, with a second camera module, for example.

Even if in this case, Apple has improved part of the photo and video technical promise, by introducing its wide-angle on the front, which allows it to offer the Center Stage function during videoconference calls. 

Whether it’s tracking your waddles when you’re seated or your back-and-forth motions when hosting a conversation, Center Stage works perfectly. The video quality is very variable and depends mainly on the ambient light. If you have to use it for videoconferences where you need to present yourself in your best light, do it… during the day.

Autonomy: here too, progress

Finally, since we must finish, let us address the question of autonomy. With 10h40 in versatile autonomy, which simulates daily use (Web, email, video, etc.), the iPad mini 2021 does better than its predecessor and even has the luxury of overtaking the iPad Air 2020.

A performance that the small tablet also confirms with our video autonomy test. It reaches 10h in continuous video playback. That’s nearly half an hour longer than the 2019 iPad mini, and 15 minutes longer than the iPad Air.

The iPad mini is still just as compact.
The iPad mini is still just as compact.

Of course, the iPad with its bigger battery lasts longer, as do the iPad Pros. Nevertheless, this autonomy will ensure that you can work, read, surf, stay connected to your friends or play for long hours, which is very good news. 

Especially since the mini recharges relatively quickly for an Apple tablet. It takes 1h47 to go from 0 to 100% charge – one of the advantages of having a battery that is not too big…

Apple iPad mini (2021) Technical Sheet

MOST

  • + The new design and larger screen
  • + The power of the A15
  • + The gain in autonomy
  • + Support for the 2nd generation Apple Pencil
  • + The front camera module for Center Stage

THE LESSERS

  • – Screen borders still wide proportionally
  • – The improved, but the unique rear camera module

Apple iPad mini (2021) Verdict

Apple iPad mini (2021)The iPad mini 2021 finally gets the design overhaul we’ve been waiting for – even if we would have liked even thinner borders. Better, it also embeds the latest chips designed by Apple, the A15, which guarantees it both good autonomy, immediate power, and above all a good long-term life.

Versatile thanks to the A15, compatible with the 2nd generation Apple Pencil. the main limitation of the iPad mini is its main asset: its size. It’s up to you to see if compactness is the cardinal element you want to prioritize. If so, this sixth generation of mini will perfectly satisfy you.

Website | + posts

Abram left his e-business studies to devote himself to his entrepreneurial projects. In 2017, he created the company Inbound Media and wrote articles about high-tech products for his Chromebookeur site. In 2019, Chromebookeur was renamed Macbound and became a general purchasing advice site. Today, Abram manages the development and growth of Macbound, surrounded by a young and talented team.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *