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Three Months With The Apple iPad mini 6

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Apple’s iPad mini 6 has been in short supply, and I can see why. The company’s supply chain is under pressure, but the iPad mini 6 is also a really good tablet. I bought one soon after Apple announced the sixth generation of its smallest iPad. I waited until early October (pre-orders started on September 17, 2021) and they were already seriously backlogged. I lucked out and found one in stock on Apple’s Amazon store — even though Apple’s own online store was showing a three-week wait. I ended up buy two more for my kids as Christmas gifts. Those orders were placed on November 1 and arrived the week before Christmas, so it was a bit of a nail-biter.

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I’ve now been using the iPad mini for a solid three months. Here are my thoughts on the latest version of Apple’s littlest iPad.

Why I Bought It In the First Place

My primary use for an iPad over the past few years has been to read online news in the morning, while also streaming music. Not exactly taxing stuff. When my old iPad mini (generation 2) started having frequent display issues, I switched to a Microsoft Surface 3 I had lying around. That was a pretty miserable experience — news in a web browser was not that tablet’s strong point. Then my wife upgraded her iPad Air to an iPad Pro. I got the hand-me-down! I was reasonably happy with the old Air, although it sometimes took forever to render News pages.

Then the unthinkable happened. The iPad Air took a tumble off a high workbench onto a hardwood floor and its display shattered. There was no point in even thinking about fixing it. Faced with a replacement, I considered the basic (10.2-inch) iPad, but I’ve always liked the smaller form factor of the mini — plus the new version had Apple’s powerful A15 Bionic chip, a new edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display, a USB-C port, and Touch ID. I figured if nothing else, it would have a much longer useful life.

A Huge Upgrade Over My Old iPad mini in Every Way

It would be shocking if the iPad mini 6 wasn’t a big improvement on my iPad mini 2. After all, that second generation iPad was released way back in 2013.

However, the iPad mini 6 is a serious performer — period. It’s equipped with Apple’s latest A-series processor, the A15 Bionic. That’s a big leap over the A13 chip in the current base-level iPad. The display is beautiful. It may not compare to my iPhone 13 Pro Max’s OLED Super Retina XDR display, but the new iPad mini’s 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display is bright, sharp, and colors pop nicely. When reading, text is crisp, photos look great, as does streaming video.

The display can functionally do the iPadOS Split View, but practically speaking it’s a bit small for that feature to be useful.

With Wi-Fi 6, page loading is no longer an issue. While the “edge-to-edge” display still has bezels, getting rid of the Home button in favor of Touch ID on the power button makes a huge difference. While the new version is slightly shorter than my old iPad mini, the display is noticeably larger.

For what I bought it for — primarily reading Apple News and streaming music — the iPad mini 6 performs admirably.

What About the “Jelly Scrolling” Issue?

Early reviewers reported a problem with the new iPad mini’s display that came to be known as “jelly scrolling.” You can read about the issue in this post by Forbes senior contributor Janhoi McGregor.

I have the Wi-Fi model of the iPad mini 6, which is supposed to be the version that’s primarily affected by jelly scrolling. Do I notice it? No. Scrolling is nowhere near as smooth as with my iPhone and its 120Hz ProMotion display, but that holds true for most of my devices. So far as I’m concerned, it’s a non-issue.

Cameras That Are Actually Useful

Apple’s iPads have always had front and rear cameras. The versions on the non-Pro iPads haven’t always been great. I’ve snapped many pictures of the kids, dogs, or cats doing something cute over the years using an iPad when my iPhone wasn’t in reach, and the results have almost always been underwhelming. There’s a lot of blur and resolution isn’t great.

Apple upgraded the main shooter on the iPad mini 6 to a 12MP wide angle camera with autofocus using Focus Pixels, image stabilization and HDR 3. It takes pretty decent pictures now. And because it’s a mini, not a full-sized iPad, it’s a little less awkward to be taking them.

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The FaceTime HD camera on the latest iPad mini gets a big resolution bump compared to the previous generation, going from 7MP on the iPad mini 5 to 12MP. It’s a much wider angle camera that supports Apple’s new Center Stage feature and offers image stabilization. FaceTime or Zoom calls look very good. They may be on a very compact display, but it’s still bigger than my iPhone’s.

A Serious Portable Gaming Device

I haven’t done much in the way of iPad gaming for a long time. I have an Xbox Series S as my primary system and a Nintendo Switch for portable gaming. However, the iPad mini 6 is a very solid gaming option and it’s gotten me a bit hooked. It makes a great little mobile gaming device — in fact I haven’t picked up my Switch since buying the iPad.

With the iPadOs support for third party game controllers (including those from the Xbox and Playstation), the A15X processor, and the iPad’s USB-C port able to output video to an external display, the iPad mini 6 is surprisingly capable for such a compact device.

The Perfect Size for Taking Notes With a Stylus

I rediscovered using a stylus with the iPad mini 6. I’d played around with capacitive styluses years ago, but never found much use for them.

In testing an active stylus with the iPad mini 6, I discovered this is actually a very useful feature. I was working with a Zagg Pro Stylus (review here), which attached magnetically to the side of the iPad. It connects instantly, and while this stylus doesn’t offer pressure support, it does offer tilt recognition so you can do thicker lines just by angling the stylus.

I used to keep a pen and Post-It notes on my desk, but the iPad mini 6 is the perfect size for being a digital notepad. With a stylus secured to its side and always ready to go in an instant, I jot things down in Notes instead of wasting paper — and, amazingly, the iPad interprets my atrocious handwriting correctly well over 99% of the time. Unlike the Apple Newton I still have stashed in a desk drawer.

Bottom Line on the iPad min 6

My only complaint about the iPad mini 6 is storage. It comes with a base 64GB, which is really on the the low end of what’s useful these days. I would have happily paid extra for an upgrade to 128GB, but that’s not an option. The only storage upgrade is to 256GB, which adds 150 to the price tag. I ended up sticking with 64GB, but probably should have paid the extra. Anyway, it’s too bad Apple doesn’t offer that 128GB tier for this model.

It would also have been nice to have a few of the iPad Air colors available, like the green and blue. Purple and gold really aren’t my thing. But that’s nit-picking.

If you’re looking for an iPad that can do just about anything you throw at it, and you want it to be small enough to slip into a jacket. Apple has your number with the iPad mini 6.

My primary mission is to help readers enjoy the best experience from their gadgets, consumer electronics, and accessories — through hands-on reviews, commentary and guides. Expect to see lots about Apple gear from the latest iPhone to the newest Apple Watch, and a steady stream of content for all things music, including wireless speakers, headphones, and turntables. I began my career at the Richard Ivey Business School in Canada, transitioned to running the product management team at one of Canada’s largest fintech companies and finished out office life as a senior research analyst. Along the way I got my Apple certification and began amassing cool gear. For the past decade and a half I have been writing about technology-related subjects, contributing to outlets that include: Wired, InvestorPlace Media, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Shaw Media, About.com, and Kiplinger. In addition I am the computing solution editor for Best Buy Canada’s Plug-in blog and one of the original writers for the award-winning GeekDad blog.

Apple iPad mini 256GB with Wi-Fi

This Apple iPad mini features an all-screen design with an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display, a powerful A15 Bionic chip with Neural Engine, a 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage and USB-C connectivity. Take notes, mark up documents or capture your biggest ideas with Apple Pencil (2nd gen) that attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly.


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The iPad mini 6 (2021) is an excellent iPad you can take anywhere

Tom’s Guide Verdict

The iPad mini 6 2021 is the small-but-powerful iPad we needed


  • Amazingly portable, light design
  • Speedy A15 Bionic processor
  • Sharp and bright display
  • Excellent webcam
  • USB-C charging
  • 2nd Gen Apple Pencil support


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Writing this iPad mini 6 (2021) review, I kept thinking about how the iPad mini is no longer the iPad mini it once was. I don’t know how Tim Cook resisted the urge to say “Honey, I shrunk the iPad Air” when Apple introduced the tablet, though that’s exactly what the company did.

Apple also added a fantastic screen, excellent battery life and the super-speedy performance of Apple’s A15 Bionic chip found in the iPhone 13 to its smallest tablet.

OS: iPadOS 15 CPU: A15 Bionic Storage: 64GB, 256GB Display: 8.3-inch (2266 x 1488 pixels) Liquid Retina Rear cameras: 12MP wide (f/1.8) Video: Up to 4K at up to 60 fps Front camera: 12MP FaceTime HD Wireless: Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G (Sub-6) Battery life: 10:29 (tested) Size: 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches Weight: 0.7 pounds Price: 499

And by doing so, Apple’s made yet another of the best tablets you can find today, building the case in favor of a pint-sized tablet of premium quality. At 8.3 inches, it’s the kind of slate that would make some ask, why not just buy a big phone? But that audience isn’t looking for a perfectly portable tablet that is a joy for reading books and comics, browsing the web and more, all with just one hand.

The only real downsides for the iPad mini 6 come for multitaskers and typists with a penchant for Apple-made keyboards. So, should you buy the iPad mini 2021? Here’s everything to know about why Apple’s smallest iPad is one of its biggest updates.

On top of that, the new iPad mini offers one feature the iPad Air doesn’t: Center Stage for keeping you in the frame when you’re on video calls. But should you get the iPad mini 6 over, say, the iPad 9? Or should you spend more money on the iPad Air 2020? These are the questions I’ll break down in this iPad mini 6 review.

The only real downsides for the iPad mini 6 come for multitaskers and typists with a penchant for Apple-made keyboards. So, should you buy the iPad mini 2021? Here’s everything to know about why Apple’s smallest iPad is one of its biggest updates.

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: Release date and price

The iPad mini 6 is available for purchase at local retailers and via Apple’s website. The price starts at 499 for the 64GB configuration, and you can upgrade to 256GB for 150 — which brings you to 649. LTE cellular connectivity costs 150 more, bringing the max price to 899.

That 499 price is 100 more than the iPad mini 5, which was previously 399. But you’re getting a much more interesting iPad here.

However, Best Buy just knocked 100 off all iPad mini 6 tablets, so you can now get an iPad mini 6 as low as 399.

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: Design

If the iPad mini 6 had cheeks or a nose, I’d try and pinch them, because this thing is adorable. But looking at the slate next to the regular iPad, you might think its name is misleading. Sure, it’s smaller, but it’s not the ‘mini‘ version of the regular iPad — as I mentioned above, this is instead the shrunk down version of the iPad Air (2020).

apple, ipad, mini

It’s got the same nearly bezel-free design, Touch ID-enabled power button on the side, no home button, flat edges and USB-C port — all iPad Air staples. Maybe “iPad Air mini” is too long of a name for Apple, but that’s what this is.

Similarly, the iPad mini 2021 is akin to the iPad Air in that it’s sold in more interesting colors than the iPad. Instead of just silver and Space Gray, Apple offers the mini in purple, pink, Starlight (think champagne) and the Space Gray color of our testing unit.

The iPad mini 6’s 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.25 inches frame has a much smaller footprint than the iPad Air 4 (9.7 x 7.0 x 0.24 inches) and iPad 9 (9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 inches). The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (8.4 x 4.9 x 0.31) is almost imperceptibly larger (by 0.35 square inches on size and 0.06 inches in thickness).

And at 0.65 pounds, the iPad mini 6 is lighter than the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (0.81 pounds), iPad Air 4 (1.01 pounds) and iPad 9 (1.09 pounds). That lightness makes it incredibly easy to use with just one hand, an aspect that’s just not out there for most high-end tablets, unless you’ve got the high-powered biceps of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The iPad mini 2021’s biometric Touch ID sensor is in its lock/power button (just like the iPad Air 4), since it doesn’t have the Home button where the iPad 9 hides its Touch ID. The Galaxy Tab A7 Lite, though, has login via facial recognition, something that no iPad outside of the pricey Pros offer.

Touch ID was a breeze to set up, on the iPad mini and both unlocked the tablet and confirmed my identity for Apple Pay in a speedy manner.

The new iPad mini does something we wish Apple would do to the normal iPad: ditching the Lightning port for USB-C. The Lightning port’s relevance continues to shrink down to just the iPhone, Airpods Max and Airpods case.

Frustratingly, the iPad mini 6 doesn’t have a headphone jack, another design change it “inherited” from the iPad Air. This is OK for everyone who is in on Bluetooth and loves Airpods, but my wired headphones still work and I wish the iPad mini 6 would support them without a USB-C to headphone jack adapter.

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: Display

The iPad mini 6 has one of the best screens for a tablet of its size, which I noticed as I re-watched the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer. Not only did the reds of Peter Parker’s suit pop in an accurate hue, but the amber glow of Doctor Strange’s powerful spell (which he told Wong he wouldn’t do) looked great as did the green glowing out of the goblin grenade on the freeway. Details such as the intricacies of Strange’s spell, the crumbling highway underneath Parker and the snowy textures of Doctor Strange’s winter wonderland of a living room looked nice.

The iPad mini 2021’s 326-ppi (8.3 inches, 2266×1488 pixels) screen is sharper than smaller than the 264-ppi iPad 9 (10.2 inches, 2160×1620 pixels) and 264-ppi iPad Air 4 (10.9 inches, 2360 x 1640 pixels) and the 179-ppi Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (8.7 inches, 1340 x 800 pixels).

But while it is sharper, I noticed one issue with a screen this small — splitting your screen between apps can make for tiny text in Safari (try a 66% vs 33% split over a 50/50 split to improve that) or for incredibly small touch targets. This makes the iPad mini 2021 less of a multitasking device and more of a one-thing-at-a-time device.

When it comes to color output, though, an iPad screen is an iPad screen, as the iPad mini 6’s 103.1% sRGB output (according to our colorimeter) is very close to those of the iPad 9 (105.3%) and iPad Air 4 (102.9%). The Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (81.8%) is less colorful.

That said, the iPad mini 6 is much brighter than all of those tablets, with a maximum of 520 nits. The iPad 9 (472.7 nits), iPad Air 4 (440 nits) and Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (315 nits) aren’t as bright.

The iPad mini 6 does exhibit one display issue that some owners are finding annoying. There’s a “jelly scrolling” problem apparently for some units, especially in portrait mode, where both sides of the display are scrolling at different speeds. We expect Apple to address this issue.

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: A15 Bionic performance

The iPad mini 6 boasts the powers of the A15 Bionic system-on-chip, with a six-core CPU, five-core graphics and 16-core Neural Engine. And, since the iPad Air 4’s A14 Bionic impressed with its speed, I’m not surprised to say that the iPad mini 2021 is a pretty fast tablet. After I split my screen between 12 Safari tabs and a 1080p YouTube video, I saw no lag.

On the Geekbench 5 multi-core general performance test, the iPad mini 6 notched a solid 4,540 score, which even beats the iPad Air 4 (4,262, A14 Bionic), iPad 9 (3387, A13 Bionic) and Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (907, MediaTek MT8768T).

Playing a quarter or two of basketball in NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition, I saw the Knicks take on the Heat, and everything ran smoothly. The exasperation on coach Tom Thibodeau’s face looked natural and like what I remember from when Trey Young took down New York during round 1 of the playoffs.

That speed also comes in handy for Apple’s machine learning tricks like Live Text. This iPadOS 15 feature (one of my favorites) lets you select text in images just by holding your finger down on the image. This worked just as smoothly on the iPad mini 2021 as it has on my iPhone 12 Pro Max and the 2020 iPad Pro models.

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: Audio

The iPad mini 6’s stereo speakers can pump out a surprising amount of sound for a tablet so small. I learned this when listening to it accurately produce Hayley Williams’ vocals on Paramore’s “Hard Times,” where guitars and percussion emitted clearly.

When I turned on Grandtheft and Keys N Krates’ EDM track “Keep It 100” to check out the bass, I noticed some (but not too much) of the low ent of the sound spectrum. The bass also rumbled on Pusha T’s “Come Back Baby,” but (again), I thought it could use some more.

Much like the iPad Air 4, the iPad mini 6 offers stereo sound when you’re using it in landscape orientation (but not in portrait).

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: Apple Pencil 2, but no Apple Keyboard

While the iPad mini 6’s flat edges allow it to support the fantastic Apple Pencil 2 (129 extra), it lacks the other iPad Air 4 and iPad Pro accessory we love: the iPad Magic Keyboard. This is likely because the 8.3-inch iPad mini 6 is too small to allow for a keyboard with decently-sized keys.

We love the iPad mini’s support for the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen, though, because it’s simply easier to use. The first generation Apple Pencil has to be charged by plugging its Lightning port into the bottom of an iPad, which always feels awkward. The Apple Pencil 2nd Gen instead charges by snapping magnetically onto the flat edge sides of the iPad mini 6.

Just as ever, the Apple Pencil 2 provides speedy input with low latency. That performance is also helpful when using the iPadOS Scribble feature that turns handwriting into type. It’s the ability to write into text fields with the Apple Pencil and have that handwriting turn into legit text. And it even works with my chicken-scratch writing.

And as much as I wish there was a first-party/Apple-made Magic Keyboard for the iPad mini 2021, it does support Bluetooth keyboards, as all tablets do. Testing it out with the Logitech MX Keys and MX Master 3, I found everything to work well, as I thought about how the iPad mini 2021 is the perfect size for a second screen on my desk (especially since the Clock app’s World Clock mode will save my lazy brain from doing the simple math to figure out what time it is for my colleagues around the world).

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: Cameras

The smaller a tablet gets, the more I understand people wanting to use it as a camera, and the iPad mini 2021 makes a good case for this purpose. Its 12-megapixel front and rear cameras provide pretty good image quality, with the latter capturing the greens and myriad of spikes of the cacti around my living room and the dark purples of the protea flower that’s nearing the end of its life.

The equally, if not more, important news is that the iPad mini 5’s 7MP camera is junked for the 12MP FaceTime HD camera. Not only did my colleagues say I looked really crisp on our morning Google Meet call, but the camera features Apple’s Center Stage technology, which keeps you in the center of the frame should you move around in front of the camera. It’s neat, and (in my experience) works better than the auto-framing tool in the 169 Logitech StreamCam.

I noticed that the selfie cam also provides accurate photography, reproducing my skin tones correctly, as well as the blue of my t-shirt. It’s not the sharpest sensor I’ve ever seen, but it did pick up the small amount of stubble with some detail.

The iPad 9 (12MP front-facing, 8MP rear) has a less-sharp rear camera, the iPad Air 4 (7MP front-facing, 12MP rear) doesn’t have Center Stage and the Tab A7 Lite (2 MP front-facing camera, 8MP rear) doesn’t compete on either sensor.

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: Battery life

Apple claims “all-day battery life” with up to 10 hours on a single charge, and our test shows they’re being modest (again). The iPad mini 6 lasted 10 hours and 56 minutes on our Wi-Fi-based battery test (constant web browsing at 150 nits until the tablet dies), which is impressive when you think of how many pixels there are to illuminate.

The iPad mini’s time beats those of the Air 4 (10:29) and Tab A7 Lite (10:07), while the larger iPad 9 (11:59) lasts about an hour longer. We’re guessing it has more room for a larger battery.

iPad mini 6 (2021) review: Verdict

I expect the questions about the new iPad mini to come hard and fast this fall, as iPad owners wonder if they should treat themselves to the new-new or keep what they have. Those who want a tablet with an excellent screen can just stop right here with the iPad mini 2021. And with the mini’s speedy A15 Bionic performance, you should be confident that you can run even-more demanding apps on it.

For even more battery life, you can save 170 with the 329 iPad 9. Think you’re going to type a lot? The iPad Air 2020 is calling your name, but it’s 100 more at 599 and its Magic Keyboard is 299 on top of that. Want a 8-inch tablet for less than half the price of the iPad mini 6? Well, just know that the 159 Galaxy Tab A7 Lite’s screen isn’t as sharp, its performance can’t touch the iPad mini 6 and it doesn’t last as long either.

At the end of the day, those who want an excellent one-handed tablet experience for reading books and watching shows and movies — with no compromises — should check out the iPad mini 2021.

The iPad mini’s diminutive form factor won’t be for everyone, but those in the market for an ultra-portable tablet can do no better.

Laptop Mag Verdict

The iPad mini’s diminutive form factor won’t be for everyone, but those in the market for an ultra-portable tablet can do no better.


  • Compact size enables single-handed use
  • Fast performance from A15 Bionic
  • Sharp and bright display
  • Decent battery life and USB-C charging
  • Excellent camera upgrades


  • – Magic Keyboard isn’t supported
  • – Apple Pencil Gen 2 sold separately
  • – Small display can feel cramped
  • – 64GB of storage. in 2021
  • – Expensive

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Price: 499 starting (799 as reviewed) OS: iPadOS 15 CPU: A15 Bionic Storage: 64GB, 256GB Display: 8.3-inch, 2266 x 1488-pixels Liquid Retina at 60Hz Rear cameras: 12MP, f/1.8 (4K, 60 fps video) Front camera: 12MP, f/2.4 (1080p at 60 fps video) Wireless: Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G (Sub-6GHz) Battery life: 10:59 Size: 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches Weight: 0.7 pounds

Back from its slumber, the iPad mini received the overhaul it desperately needed. This year, Apple’s smallest tablet adopted features from the iPad Air and iPad Pro, making it a genuinely premium slate. But the draw here remains the same — a tiny, portable tablet you can operate with one hand. If that’s what you’re looking for, then the iPad mini is as good as it gets.

That’s because Apple improved every aspect of this pint-sized slate. The 8.3-inch screen is larger than before, and yet, slim bezels have reduced its overall footprint. The iPad mini’s outstanding performance via the A15 Bionic chip is more than anyone will need, and the addition of optional 5G support cements its place as the best tablet for using outside of your home.

There are some downsides to going with the iPad mini beyond its small screen (which is an advantage for some people). At 499, the iPad mini is expensive, and while compatibility with the 139 Apple Pencil Gen 2 is welcome, the accessory costs extra. Also, there is no support for a docked keyboard, and 64GB of storage is an insult at this price.

iPad mini 6 price and configuration options

Small doesn’t mean cheap. The iPad mini is available for purchase at Apple and other retailers starting at 499 for 64GB of storage, or 100 more than the previous model. You can spend another 150 for an upgrade to 256GB, bringing the total cost to 649. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t believe in a 128GB middle ground. If it were up to us, we’d ditch the 64GB model altogether and start with 128GB.

The iPad mini now supports 5G cellular, a feature that costs another 150 on top of the price of your preferred config. All told, our 256GB iPad mini review unit with 5G support costs 799.

These don’t include the optional Apple Pencil (2nd Gen), which will run you another 139.

iPad mini 6 design

I didn’t think I’d ever say this about a tech product, but the iPad mini is downright adorable. It’s so small! So much smaller than I was expecting. I was befuddled when I laid my eyes on the box — there’s no way a tablet could fit in that! Enough of my blabbering though, let’s see how small it really is.

Measuring 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.25 inches and weighing 0.66 pounds, the iPad mini is tiny enough to stash in a glovebox or carry in a purse. I can even grip the slate on both sides with one hand. For comparison, the iPad (9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29 inches, 1.1 pounds), iPad Air (9.7 x 7 x 0.24 inches, 1 pound) and Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (11.21 x 7.28 x 0.25 inches, 1.34 pounds) are all considerably larger.

I’ve spent so much time writing about the size of the iPad mini for a reason. If it doesn’t work for you, then don’t let this mostly glowing review (and the many others online) persuade you. The iPad mini is for people who are looking specifically for a miniature tablet. If you can, go to your nearby Best Buy or Apple Store for some hands-on time with this tablet. You might be surprised by how much you do or don’t like the form factor.

If the size is to your liking then I suspect the rest of the design will be, too. Not that there are any surprises; the iPad mini’s look and feel are exactly what we’ve come to expect from an Apple tablet. It’s a thin sheet of precision-cut aluminum with a chrome Apple logo centered on the rear along with some antenna bands and a single circular lens in the top-left corner.

On the top edge in portrait orientation is a volume rocker next to the power button, which doubles as a fingerprint sensor for the ever-reliable Touch ID (Face ID is not supported). Magnets on the right side securely hold and charge the optional Apple Pencil Gen 2. On the bottom edge is a USB-C port for charging the tablet, connecting to accessories, displays or external storage, and transferring data at up to 5GBps.

I’m happy to see Apple expanding its color pallet. For the iPad mini, you have the choice of Space Gray, Starlight (Champagne-ish), Pink and Purple. Shoutout to Apple for sending us the Laptop Mag purple model. I say “purple” but it looks more sky blue or silver under most lighting conditions. If you were expecting eggplant or lavender, this isn’t it.

iPad mini 6 display

This German rhyme perfectly sums up the iPad mini’s 8.3-inch, 2266 x 1488-pixel Liquid Retina display: small, but excellent.

While this isn’t the first device I’d choose for watching movies or shows, the iPad mini gives you more screen real estate than any smartphone on the market (for now, at least). If you do find yourself streaming content on the mini, you’ll enjoy accurate colors and sharp details. I enjoyed watching the trailer for Top Gun: Maverick. The white balance was spot-on — the frigid mountains were covered in crisp white snow. Details were also excellent, as I could read the writing on the side of a fighter jet as it darted through the air. If I have one criticism, it’s that iOS 15 can feel crowded on such a small canvas.

Before I move on to the benchmarks, I want to talk about the “jelly scroll” issue that has some customers fearing something is wrong with their screen. When scrolling up or down a website, the left side of the iPad mini’s screen moves a fraction faster than the right. The right side then jumps up or down to catch up, creating a distracting waviness to the text or images on the page. You only notice it when scrolling very slowly and it never bothered me during my testing. That’s a very good thing, too, because Apple considers it “normal behavior for LCD screens” and has no plans to release a fix.

apple, ipad, mini

We put a colorimeter up to the iPad mini’s display and found that it covers 73% of the DCI-P3 color range, making it less vivid than the panels on the standard iPad (76%) and Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE (103%). As you’d expect, the mini matches the iPad Air (73%).

The iPad mini compensates for middling colors with excellent display brightness, reaching 520 nits. This makes it one of the brightest tablets we’ve tested after it outshone the iPad Air (440 nits), iPad 9 (472 nits) and the Galaxy Tab S7 FE (517 nits). The iPad mini even passed the most rigorous of tests by shining bright enough for me to comfortably use it outdoors on a sunny Texas day.

iPad mini 6 Apple Pencil (Gen 2)

The Apple Pencil (Gen 2) is among the best stylii on the market, and one of the most expensive. If you can spare another 129, this stylus is a great accessory for students, artists or designers who want to draw or write notes on the tablet.

The size and weight of the stark-white pen are nicely balanced, and the flat edge gives me flashbacks to using Lamy’s famous Safari fountain pen in school. Also, the double-tap feature for changing tools or turning on the eraser works as advertised.

What earns the Pencil Gen 2 its lofty price is that it magnetically attaches to the right edge of the iPad mini and begins charging. Held firmly by a magnet, I was alerted by a satisfying snap when the stylus was positioned properly. Hooray! No more awkwardly plugging the pen directly into the port.

The iPad mini, however, does not have a connector for Apple’s keyboard accessories; e.g. the Magic Keyboard. It supports Bluetooth keyboards, so you can purchase a wireless one to up your productivity game.

iPad mini 6 audio

The dual speakers on the iPad mini punch above their weight class. The sound coming from these dual drivers is balanced, clear and there is even some punch (or maybe more of a tap) on the low end. When I listened to Circa Survive’s “Imposter Syndrome,” Anthony Green’s soaring falsetto was bright and detailed above the hard drum hits. The tablet filled my medium-sized room at maximum volume, but cranking the sound up introduced some grittiness to the vocals and caused the treble to sound strained.

With that said, audio performance is good for such a small tablet but you shouldn’t expect the iPad mini to replace your Bluetooth speakers or wireless headphones.

Personal listening can only be experienced wirelessly because the iPad mini lacks a headphone jack. This is an unfortunate omission for people like myself who use wired headphones (Sennheiser HD650s in this case) as their daily drivers. Apple wants to force you to buy its Airpods earbuds and it’s going to strip its tablets naked if that’s what’s required.

iPad mini 6 performance and graphics

Powered by an A15 Bionic chip with a six-core CPU and five-core graphics, the iPad mini packs a serious wallop. And I don’t just mean for its size; the iPad mini is among the most powerful tablets on the market, falling behind only the M1-powered iPad Pro. I opened 16 Google Chrome tabs and didn’t experience even a hint of lag. There wasn’t so much as a stutter as I read Metroid Prime interviews, watched a YouTube review of the Lexus NX450, and flipped between my favorite tech news sites.

To test the graphics, I fired up Mario Kart Tour and raced around the world as Toadette, my go-to karting character. The app loaded almost instantly, animations were fluid, and my red turtle shells slid smoothly across the screen until they hit my foes.

On the Geekbench 5 overall performance benchmark, the iPad mini scored a 4,450, edging out the iPad Air 4 (4,262, A14 Bionic) and proving the A15 to be only a minor upgrade over its predecessor. Either way, the iPad mini is much more powerful than the iPad 9 (3,387, A13 Bionic) and on a different planet than the Galaxy Tab S7 FE (1,965, Qualcomm 750G).

For our graphics benchmarks, we ran the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited test. The iPad mini scored 10,193 and reached 61 frames per second. This was an improvement over the iPad (48 fps) and the iPad Air (52 fps).

iPad mini 6 battery life

Our biggest complaint with the iPhone mini over the past generations is its less-than-stellar battery life. Fortunately, the tablet version doesn’t suffer the same fate. The iPad mini lasted for 10 hours and 56 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits.

That great result means the mini lasts longer on a charge than the iPad Air 4 (10:29). However, it powered down before the Galaxy Tab S7 FE (13:07) and the cheaper and larger iPad 9 (11:59).

The iPad mini charges via a USB-C cable which you’ll find in the box with a 20W adapter.

iPad mini 6 camera

On the rear of the iPad mini is a lonely 12-megapixel, f/1.8 camera. It takes decent photos so long as you aren’t expecting smartphone quality. importantly, I didn’t feel silly snapping them because I could do so with one hand.

As for picture quality, a photo I took in my dimly lit office looked good at first glance. The lens did a nice job of capturing the ink colors and the details are sharp (look at the stitching in the orange fish). However, zooming in reveals some visual noise and the white balance is too warm.

Photos taken in better lighting conditions, like this shot taken at Barton Creek in Austin, don’t suffer from those problems, but again, this won’t compete with your iPhone.

Magic lies in the front-facing camera. It has the same Center Stage feature as the iPad Pro, which uses face tracking to ensure you stay centered within the frame during video calls. You can see me having fun with it on the iPad Pro in the below GIF and it works just as well on the iPad mini, smoothly shifting the frame from side to side as my head moved away from the center. It really feels like a videographer is behind your tablet operating the camera on a gimbal.

It works in tandem with the 12MP, f/2.4 FaceTime HD front-facing camera, which shoots sharp 1080p video at 60 fps and takes decent selfies. A mugshot I snapped outside looked fine.

There was enough sharpness to see individual strands of hair in my beard and the colors in both the foreground and background were punchy without being oversaturated. However, some of the sun-hit areas were blown out and zooming in revealed smudging.

Bottom line

The iPad mini 6 is a return to form. Apple could have abandoned its miniature iPad, but instead, it gave the mini the update it desperately needed. This Gen 6 model is better than the 2019 model in every measurable way. A larger display with thinner bezels, significantly faster performance, USB-C charging, Touch ID, Apple Pencil Gen 2 support, and optional 5G connectivity highlight a complete redesign of the petite slate.

Now let’s talk about who should buy the iPad mini because, as good as this tablet is, the answer isn’t everyone. Most people eyeing the iPad mini are probably deciding between it and the iPad or iPad Air. My recommendation is simple: Your decision should largely come down to pricing and display size.

If you want an ultra-compact slate that you can legitimately use with one hand, then the iPad mini is the way to go. If the size doesn’t matter so much, and you’re buying a tablet for streaming movies or TV shows, then save some cash and get the 329 iPad. If you’re going to do a mix of both content consumption and multitasking, then spend a bit extra for the iPad Air. That’s not to say the iPad mini can’t satisfy your streaming, gaming or remote work needs — it’s just that this tablet should only be considered if you need the most portable solution.

In the end, Apple did exactly what it needed to do to breathe new life into the iPad mini, an excellent all-around tablet whose pint-sized chassis makes it a joy to have at home or on the go.

How to Update an Old iPad

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While most iPads can be upgraded to the latest operating system, iPadOS 16, some are stuck at an earlier generation of the operating system. Apple leaves devices behind when they don’t have the hardware that’s necessary to smoothly run the new operating system.

Consult the chart below to find out the latest version of iOS or iPadOS that your tablet supports. To identify which iPad model you own, turn it over and you will find it printed in very small type on the back under the iPad logo. You can also go to Settings General About. There you will find the “Model Name” and “Model Number.” The model number is a letter followed by four numbers. If you see a slash in a string of characters (for example, MY3K2LL/A), you’re looking at the part number. Tap the part number to reveal the model number.

The Latest Version of iOS or iPadOS by iPad Model

Latest Version of iOS or iPadOS

iPad mini. 5th generation (2019), Model numbers A2124, A2126, A2133 iPad mini. 6th generation (2021), Model numbers A2567, A2568, A2569

iPad Air. 3rd generation (2019), Model numbers A2152, A2123, A2153 iPad Air. 4th generation (2020), Model numbers A2316, A2324, A2325, A2072 iPad Air. 5th generation (2022), Model numbers A2588, A2589

How to update an old iPad

There are two ways to update your old iPad. You can update it wirelessly over Wi-Fi or connect it to a computer and use the iTunes app.

How to update an old iPad wirelessly

Back up your iPad. Make sure your iPad is connected to Wi-Fi and then go to Settings Apple ID [Your Name] iCloud or Settings iCloud. Make sure iCloud Backup is turned on and select “Back Up Now.” You’ll receive a confirmation when the backup is complete.

Check for and install the latest software. To check for the latest software, go to Settings General Software Update. Your iPad will then check for a software update. On the screen, you’ll either see your current version of iOS or iPad OS and the message “Your software is up to date,” or if your software is not up to date, you’ll see the option to “Download and Install.”

How to update an old iPad using your computer

Back up your iPad. Connect your iPad to your computer with your Lightning or USB-C cable. (You may see a message asking for your iPad passcode or for your to “Trust This Computer.” Follow the directions.) On a Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, open Finder. Select your iPad, select “General,” and select “Back up all of the data on your iPad to this Mac.” On a Mac with macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, or on a PC, launch iTunes. Locate your iPad in iTunes and click on it. You’ll then see an option to “Back Up Now.” Click on the “Back Up Now” button, and you’ll receive a confirmation when the backup is complete.

Check for and install the latest software. On a Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, open Finder. Select your iPad, select “General,” and select “Check for Update.” If there is an update available, select “Update.” On a Mac with macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, or on a PC, open iTunes. Then, connect your device to your computer. Locate your device on your computer. Click “General” or “Settings,” then click “Check for Update.” Click “Download and Update.” You may be asked to enter your passcode.

Updated on 11/28/2022 with new model number information and iPadOS 16 compatibility.

[Image credit: screenshots via Techlicious, iPadOS 16 via BigStockPhoto]

For the past 20 years, Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Ten years ago, she founded Techlicious, which serves the role of that tech-savvy friend you can count on to share tips and tricks to get the most out of technology; whether that’s saving time in our hectic schedules, discovering new ways to enjoy our personal interests, or keeping up with the latest technology trends and styles. Before that, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where she hosted the radio show “Living with Technology.” Previously, she served as Technology Editor for Popular Science Magazine. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.



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