Three months with Apple iPad mini 6

Apple’s iPad mini 6 was in short supply, and I can tell why. The company’s supply chain is under pressure, but the iPad mini 6 is also a really good tablet. I bought a device shortly after Apple announced the sixth generation of its smallest iPad. I waited until early October (pre-orders started September 17, 2021) and it was already seriously backlogged. I got lucky and found one in stock at Apple’s Amazon store – even though the Apple online store had a three-week wait. I ended up buying two more for my kids as Christmas gifts. These orders were placed on November 1 and arrived the week before Christmas, so it was a nail-biting thing.

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

Why did you buy it in the first place

My primary use of the iPad for the past few years has been reading news online in the morning, while also streaming music. Not exactly stuff taxes. When my old iPad mini (2nd generation) started to have recurring display issues, I switched to the Microsoft Surface 3 I was touring. That was a pretty miserable experience – news in a web browser wasn’t the strong point of this tablet. Then my wife upgraded her iPad Air to an iPad Pro. You got me hand! I was reasonably happy with the old plane, although at times it took a long time to render the News+ pages.

Then the unimaginable happened. The iPad Air was taken off a high workbench on a hardwood floor and the display shattered. There was no point even thinking about fixing it. Faced with a replacement, I considered the base iPad (10.2 inches), but I’ve always liked the mini’s smaller form factor—plus, the new version has Apple’s powerful A15 Bionic chip, a new edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display and a USB port— C and Touch ID. I thought if nothing else, it would have a much longer life.

Huge upgrade over your old iPad mini in every way

It would be shocking if the iPad mini 6 wasn’t a huge improvement over the iPad mini 2. After all, the second generation iPad was released in 2013.

However, the iPad mini 6 is a serious performer—period. It is equipped with Apple’s latest A-series processor, the A15 Bionic. This is a huge leap over the A13 chip in the current entry-level iPad. The presentation is beautiful. It might not compare to the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s OLED Super Retina XDR display, but the iPad mini’s new 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display is bright, sharp, and colourful. When reading, the text is clear, the images look great, and so does the streaming video.

The screen can function as an iPadOS split view, but in practice, this feature is a bit small to be useful.

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

For what it’s bought for — primarily reading Apple News+ and streaming music — iPad mini 6 delivers great performance.

What about the “jelly pass” problem?

Early reviewers reported an issue with the new iPad mini’s screen that has come to be known as “jelly swipe.” You can read about this issue in this post by Forbes Senior Shareholder Janoway MacGregor.

I have a Wi-Fi model of the iPad mini 6, which is supposed to be the version affected mainly by the gel pass. Did you notice that? No, scrolling isn’t nearly as smooth as with the iPhone and the 120Hz ProMotion screen, but that’s true for most of my devices. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a problem.

Cameras That Are Actually Useful

Apple iPads have always had front and back cameras. The versions on non-Pro iPads weren’t always great. I’ve taken many photos of kids, dogs, or cats doing something cute over the years with my iPad when my iPhone wasn’t on hand, and the results are almost always disappointing. There is a lot of blur and the resolution is not great.

Apple has upgraded the main photographer on the iPad mini 6 to a 12MP wide-angle camera with autofocus using Focus Pixels, image stabilization, and HDR 3. It takes decent photos now. And since it is a compact device and not a full-size iPad, it is inconvenient to handle.

The FaceTime HD camera on the latest iPad mini gets a higher resolution than the previous generation, ranging 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 provides image stabilization. FaceTime or Zoom calls sound pretty good. It might be on a very compact screen, but it’s still bigger than my iPhones.

Dangerous portable gaming device

I haven’t done much in the way of iPad gaming in a long time. I have an Xbox Series S as a platform and a Nintendo Switch for mobile games. However, the iPad mini 6 is a very solid gaming option and it got me a little hooked. It makes a great little portable gaming device – in fact I haven’t carried my Switch since buying the iPad.

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

The perfect size for taking notes with a pen

I’ve rediscovered using a stylus with the iPad mini 6. I’ve played with capacitive pens for years, but haven’t found much use for them.

While testing the active stylus with the iPad mini 6, I found this to be a very useful feature actually. I was working with the Zagg Pro Stylus (check here), which was magnetically attached 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 make thicker lines just at the angle of the stylus.

I used to keep Post-It pen and notes on my desk, but the iPad mini 6 is the perfect size for being a digital notepad. With a pen on its side and always ready to go in an instant, I jot things down in Notes rather than wasting paper — and surprisingly, my iPad correctly interprets my awful handwriting over 99% of the time. Unlike the Apple Newton I’m still hidden in a desk drawer…

The bottom line on the iPad min 6

My only complaint about the iPad mini 6 is the storage. It comes with a 64GB base, which is really on the low end of what is useful these days. I would have been happy to pay extra for the 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 fee. Anyway, it’s too bad that Apple doesn’t offer a 128GB class for this model…

It was also nice to have a few iPad Air colors available, like green and blue. Purple and gold aren’t really a thing. But this is a careful selection.

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

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