Hands on with the small and mighty 6th-generation iPad mini

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in iPad
After years of fairly disappointing routine upgrades, the iPad mini finally got some love from Apple's engineers. We go hands on with Apple's most compact, but surprisingly powerful little tablet.

The all-new iPad mini 6
The all-new iPad mini 6

A gorgeous display

Front and center on the new iPad mini is that gorgeous display.






The new Liquid Retina display measures up at 8.3 inches, up from 7.9 inches on the prior generation. Liquid Retina is Apple's term for displays with rounded corners that seem to blend into the frame of the device rather than having sharp 90-degree corners.

Even though it's an updated display, its other specs remain the same. It's still at 500 nits of typical brightness, with P3 wide color gamut support and a pixel density of 326 PPI.

Finally, a new design



No longer does iPad mini have those rounded edges that it has had since it originally debuted. It now has flat sides, just like the iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPhone.

The flat sides make the tablet easier to hold for us, as it just sits in our hands a bit easier and feels almost like a massive iPhone. if only this could fold in half...

LaCie Rugged Drive connected over USB-C to iPad mini 6
LaCie Rugged Drive connected over USB-C to iPad mini 6


This new design comes complete with USB-C for connecting various peripherals, and support for Apple Pencil 2 that can magnetically connect along the right edge.

Apple ditched the Home button (finally) and instead relocated Touch ID to the sleep/wake button, in a similar fashion to the most recent iPad Air.

Apple Pencil 2 on iPad mini 6
Apple Pencil 2 on iPad mini 6


We will say that coming from Face ID on the iPad Pro and iPhone, having to use Touch ID is very annoying. It felt so tedious as we sat here playing with tablet to always have to reach up to authenticate with that upper button.

It isn't as annoying in landscape mode as your left index finger is right there, but when vertical, we absolutely missed Face ID. Considering how many high-end features Apple added to the mini we're a little surprised Face ID didn't make the cut.

This is especially true since you can wake the display with just a tap of your finger. We'd tap, swipe up, only to be denied entry until we tapped the side button.

Lots of power

This little guy may be petite, but it is packing some crazy power. Apple outfitted this tablet with the newest A15 Bionic processor.

Not just the A15 Bionic though, it is almost identical to the one in iPhone 13 Pro that contains the bonus GPU core.

Geekbench ML results on the new iPad mini and iPhone 13 Pro Max
Geekbench ML results on the new iPad mini and iPhone 13 Pro Max


We ran a few quick benchmarks ahead of the full review, but we were very happily impressed. In the Geekbench ML test, iPad mini 6 beat our iPhone 13 Pro Max, scoring a 908 compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max's 805.

They were very close in the standard Geekbench 5 GPU Compute test and the CPU test, unsurprisingly.

Finally, good cameras

We're not sure what convinced Apple to finally put some real cameras on these new iPad minis, but we're guessing the pandemic had something to do with it. With many people working or being educated from home, a good front-facing camera suddenly became very important.

Rear camera of the Space Gray iPad mini 6
Rear camera of the Space Gray iPad mini 6


In this new iPad mini 6, that front-facing camera went from 7MP to a whopping 12MP. It also can now shoot 4K video and has a wide 122-degree field of view.

This change enables Center Stage, Apple's feature that can automatically track you and keep you in the frame during video calls. It works in FaceTime, as well as third-party apps like Zoom.

The back camera has been updated as well, going from 8MP to 12MP and can also now support 4K video recording.

We wish Apple's Photographic Styles came to iPad mini but for some reason that is relegated to the iPhone 13 lineup. At least iPad mini isn't as embarrassing for taking photos as the iPad Pro is.

Stay tuned for our full review of the brand new 2021 iPad mini 6 very soon.

Where to buy

Space Gray iPad mini 6
Space Gray iPad mini 6


Apple's newest iPad mini is already on sale, with the latest prices at your fingertips in the AppleInsider iPad mini 6 Price Guide.

At press time, readers can grab exclusive savings on every model at Expercom with this special pricing link. Amazon is also offering cash discounts, with limited availability.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    I have been using mine since Friday.   It’s awesome.
    williamlondonGeorgeBMacHobeSoundDarryldewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 25
    Got mine friday early afternoon.
    Really like it so far.
    williamlondonGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 25
    I sold my mini 5 a few months ago in anticipation of this one. I picked it up Friday.

    it is everything I expected but…not a huge amount more; and, in some ways, a bit less.

    Despite loving the great-looking new form factor I can’t help but feel the rounded edges of the previous design suited one-hand holding better.

    Relocating Touch ID to the side actually makes it harder as there is no visual indication as to where the button is (apart from the hard-to-see front camera).

    No Smart connector means there will never be a cute little keyboard similar to the ones for the Pros.

    And finally….the space between the icon grid and the bezels is huge! One more column of icons could easily fit each side.

    I’m a little underwhelmed but given the lockdown we are currently in (Melbourne) Apple have said you have until the stores open up for returns, so much longer than the usual two weeks. Hopefully more tinkering will get me used to these shortcomings!


    williamlondonGeorgeBMacdewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 25
    Traded up from generation five model and I’m very impressed with the improvements to the new mini. Was surprised that the smart cover also covers the rear or the iPad which makes it just ever so slightly heavier but of course they did that with the pro models also. Any shortcomings are compensated for by all of the improvements they made.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 25
    Posting this from my new iPad Mini 6. The iPad Mini has been my favorite Apple product ever since it debuted, and this model is everything I hoped for, yet I feel a little conflicted.

    the “Liquid Retina display” (dumb marketing name)… “gorgeous”? Have you even seen an OLED? I am praying that this is the last LED product I ever buy. The glare is hateful. I understand that OLED is expensive and we are experiencing all kinds of weird supply chain problems due to COVID, but no, this screen is merely adequate.

    I constantly find myself tapping in my pass-number instead of using TouchID. I understand why they didn’t put tap-to-wake on pre-FaceID models now, it is truly disorienting.

    and now the one thing that is making me legitimately angry: the screen is 744px wide. Web sites and apps are built to detect 768px (the older model width) as the starting point for tablets. Now, instead of tablet size, everything is showing up as stretched phone view. It’s infuriating, tablets are much closer visually to laptops than phones. Apple absolutely should have made this device a quarter inch wider just to maintain compatibility with ALL THE SOFTWARE IN THE WORLD.

    I really like this thing. It is making me very angry. 
    williamlondonpatchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 25
    fred1fred1 Posts: 840member
    The Mini is also my favorite Apple product and I can’t wait to get the 6 . . . but it looks like I’ll have to. At the moment the model I want is, according to the Apple web site, “not available in the 12 nearest stores.” Why are there so few of them in the stores? I really don’t want to have it shipped and I’m hoping to get it at an Apple store and not some other reseller. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 25
    So Apple’s going to cease production of this wonderful device a year from now? We’ll see.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 25
    I got mine Friday. So far I’m happy, very happy. But the bezels are still somewhat large to my liking. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    fred1 said:
    The Mini is also my favorite Apple product and I can’t wait to get the 6 . . . but it looks like I’ll have to. At the moment the model I want is, according to the Apple web site, “not available in the 12 nearest stores.” Why are there so few of them in the stores? I really don’t want to have it shipped and I’m hoping to get it at an Apple store and not some other reseller. 
    Keep checking a few times a day. They’ll be available in store soon. Last year I ordered the new Air and had a lead time of 3 weeks until delivery. 3 days later it was in stock at my local Apple Store. So I canceled the first order, then reordered it with a $5 express courier fee, and a half hour later it was in my hands. Be diligent. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 25
    Google Pixel 5a advertisements on the Apple Insider app? No, that’s not annoying at all. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 25
    Japhey said:
    fred1 said:
    The Mini is also my favorite Apple product and I can’t wait to get the 6 . . . but it looks like I’ll have to. At the moment the model I want is, according to the Apple web site, “not available in the 12 nearest stores.” Why are there so few of them in the stores? I really don’t want to have it shipped and I’m hoping to get it at an Apple store and not some other reseller. 
    Keep checking a few times a day. They’ll be available in store soon. Last year I ordered the new Air and had a lead time of 3 weeks until delivery. 3 days later it was in stock at my local Apple Store. So I canceled the first order, then reordered it with a $5 express courier fee, and a half hour later it was in my hands. Be diligent. 
    Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll do that. But why can’t Apple have at least a few in each store at release time? Seems strange and it’s frustrating.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 25
    Eric_WVGG said:
    Posting this from my new iPad Mini 6. The iPad Mini has been my favorite Apple product ever since it debuted, and this model is everything I hoped for, yet I feel a little conflicted.

    the “Liquid Retina display” (dumb marketing name)… “gorgeous”? Have you even seen an OLED? I am praying that this is the last LED product I ever buy. The glare is hateful. I understand that OLED is expensive and we are experiencing all kinds of weird supply chain problems due to COVID, but no, this screen is merely adequate.

    I constantly find myself tapping in my pass-number instead of using TouchID. I understand why they didn’t put tap-to-wake on pre-FaceID models now, it is truly disorienting.

    and now the one thing that is making me legitimately angry: the screen is 744px wide. Web sites and apps are built to detect 768px (the older model width) as the starting point for tablets. Now, instead of tablet size, everything is showing up as stretched phone view. It’s infuriating, tablets are much closer visually to laptops than phones. Apple absolutely should have made this device a quarter inch wider just to maintain compatibility with ALL THE SOFTWARE IN THE WORLD.

    I really like this thing. It is making me very angry. 

    There is an option in Safari in Settings for “Request Desktop Site”.   Make sure that is on 

    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 25
    dymmas said:
    I sold my mini 5 a few months ago in anticipation of this one. I picked it up Friday.

    it is everything I expected but…not a huge amount more; and, in some ways, a bit less.

    Despite loving the great-looking new form factor I can’t help but feel the rounded edges of the previous design suited one-hand holding better.

    Relocating Touch ID to the side actually makes it harder as there is no visual indication as to where the button is (apart from the hard-to-see front camera).

    No Smart connector means there will never be a cute little keyboard similar to the ones for the Pros.

    And finally….the space between the icon grid and the bezels is huge! One more column of icons could easily fit each side.

    I’m a little underwhelmed but given the lockdown we are currently in (Melbourne) Apple have said you have until the stores open up for returns, so much longer than the usual two weeks. Hopefully more tinkering will get me used to these shortcomings!



    All good points, and thanks for sharing them...
    But I'm STILL confused about the benefits of the smart connector.  I understand that Apple has some really nice keyboards that use it.  But, for my grandson's iPad Gen6, a blue tooth keyboard/case/trackpad works very well*. 

    For desktops & laptops we eliminated wired keyboards and mice long ago and switched to bluetooth -- which seems to work just fine. 
    So why do iPads benefit from what is essentially a wired connection?

    *Also, a Mini would be unlikely to benefit from a keyboard/trackpad/case simply because it would be too small to use -- which is probably why Apple did not include the smart connector.  But, as I mentioned above, it's unclear to me what the benefit of the smart connector is anyway.
    edited September 26
  • Reply 14 of 25
    I got mine Friday. So far I’m happy, very happy. But the bezels are still somewhat large to my liking. 
    Yeh, i wonder why they reduced the bezels but kept them fairly large?
    The top & bottom bezels seem much narrower than before but not narrow.  And, the side bezels seem (from the pictures) to be even wider than before.

    Why wouldn't Apple just eliminate bezels like they did on iPhones starting back with the X?  And, without FaceId the don't even need the notch.

    Does that very nice front facing camera take up that much room?  But, even if it does, why are the other three bezels so much wider than those on an iPhone?

    The typical, immediate answer is (as always) "cost".  But I would think that making the screen fill the form factor should not add significantly to the cost.

  • Reply 15 of 25
    I got mine Friday. So far I’m happy, very happy. But the bezels are still somewhat large to my liking. 
    Yeh, i wonder why they reduced the bezels but kept them fairly large?
    The top & bottom bezels seem much narrower than before but not narrow.  And, the side bezels seem (from the pictures) to be even wider than before.

    Why wouldn't Apple just eliminate bezels like they did on iPhones starting back with the X?  And, without FaceId the don't even need the notch.

    Does that very nice front facing camera take up that much room?  But, even if it does, why are the other three bezels so much wider than those on an iPhone?

    The typical, immediate answer is (as always) "cost".  But I would think that making the screen fill the form factor should not add significantly to the cost.

    Are you going to glue some velcro on your hand and some more on the back of the iPad in order to have a decent touch experience? You still need some space to handle the iPad (a two-hands device).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 25
    thttht Posts: 4,089member
    dymmas said:
    I sold my mini 5 a few months ago in anticipation of this one. I picked it up Friday.

    it is everything I expected but…not a huge amount more; and, in some ways, a bit less.

    Despite loving the great-looking new form factor I can’t help but feel the rounded edges of the previous design suited one-hand holding better.

    Relocating Touch ID to the side actually makes it harder as there is no visual indication as to where the button is (apart from the hard-to-see front camera).

    No Smart connector means there will never be a cute little keyboard similar to the ones for the Pros.

    And finally….the space between the icon grid and the bezels is huge! One more column of icons could easily fit each side.

    I’m a little underwhelmed but given the lockdown we are currently in (Melbourne) Apple have said you have until the stores open up for returns, so much longer than the usual two weeks. Hopefully more tinkering will get me used to these shortcomings!
    All good points, and thanks for sharing them...
    But I'm STILL confused about the benefits of the smart connector.  I understand that Apple has some really nice keyboards that use it.  But, for my grandson's iPad Gen6, a blue tooth keyboard/case/trackpad works very well*. 

    For desktops & laptops we eliminated wired keyboards and mice long ago and switched to bluetooth -- which seems to work just fine. 
    So why do iPads benefit from what is essentially a wired connection?

    *Also, a Mini would be unlikely to benefit from a keyboard/trackpad/case simply because it would be too small to use -- which is probably why Apple did not include the smart connector.  But, as I mentioned above, it's unclear to me what the benefit of the smart connector is anyway.
    The Smart Connector is designed for Apple's Smart Keyboard cases. That's the long and short of it. 3rd parties can use it if they want, but it's really for Apple's keyboard cases, with emphasis on cases. If it was able to transport USBC or TB protocol, it would make for a nice docking station port, but as it is today, it's basically designed specifically for Apple's keyboard cases.

    If it is Bluetooth, it just means needing a battery, a radio, adding more weight, and adding more bulk. Not good characteristics for a case.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    Apple_Bar said:
    I got mine Friday. So far I’m happy, very happy. But the bezels are still somewhat large to my liking. 
    Yeh, i wonder why they reduced the bezels but kept them fairly large?
    The top & bottom bezels seem much narrower than before but not narrow.  And, the side bezels seem (from the pictures) to be even wider than before.

    Why wouldn't Apple just eliminate bezels like they did on iPhones starting back with the X?  And, without FaceId the don't even need the notch.

    Does that very nice front facing camera take up that much room?  But, even if it does, why are the other three bezels so much wider than those on an iPhone?

    The typical, immediate answer is (as always) "cost".  But I would think that making the screen fill the form factor should not add significantly to the cost.

    Are you going to glue some velcro on your hand and some more on the back of the iPad in order to have a decent touch experience? You still need some space to handle the iPad (a two-hands device).

    Even on a full sized iPad my fingers don't curl around onto the screen.  I hold it by the edges -- just as I do with my phone.
  • Reply 18 of 25
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,904member
    Apple_Bar said:
    I got mine Friday. So far I’m happy, very happy. But the bezels are still somewhat large to my liking. 
    Yeh, i wonder why they reduced the bezels but kept them fairly large?
    The top & bottom bezels seem much narrower than before but not narrow.  And, the side bezels seem (from the pictures) to be even wider than before.

    Why wouldn't Apple just eliminate bezels like they did on iPhones starting back with the X?  And, without FaceId the don't even need the notch.

    Does that very nice front facing camera take up that much room?  But, even if it does, why are the other three bezels so much wider than those on an iPhone?

    The typical, immediate answer is (as always) "cost".  But I would think that making the screen fill the form factor should not add significantly to the cost.

    Are you going to glue some velcro on your hand and some more on the back of the iPad in order to have a decent touch experience? You still need some space to handle the iPad (a two-hands device).
    It has flat edges, there's plenty of grip there.
    dewmecanukstorm
  • Reply 19 of 25
    dymmas said:
    I sold my mini 5 a few months ago in anticipation of this one. I picked it up Friday.

    it is everything I expected but…not a huge amount more; and, in some ways, a bit less.

    Despite loving the great-looking new form factor I can’t help but feel the rounded edges of the previous design suited one-hand holding better.

    Relocating Touch ID to the side actually makes it harder as there is no visual indication as to where the button is (apart from the hard-to-see front camera).

    No Smart connector means there will never be a cute little keyboard similar to the ones for the Pros.

    And finally….the space between the icon grid and the bezels is huge! One more column of icons could easily fit each side.

    I’m a little underwhelmed but given the lockdown we are currently in (Melbourne) Apple have said you have until the stores open up for returns, so much longer than the usual two weeks. Hopefully more tinkering will get me used to these shortcomings!



    All good points, and thanks for sharing them...
    But I'm STILL confused about the benefits of the smart connector.  I understand that Apple has some really nice keyboards that use it.  But, for my grandson's iPad Gen6, a blue tooth keyboard/case/trackpad works very well*. 

    For desktops & laptops we eliminated wired keyboards and mice long ago and switched to bluetooth -- which seems to work just fine. 
    So why do iPads benefit from what is essentially a wired connection?

    *Also, a Mini would be unlikely to benefit from a keyboard/trackpad/case simply because it would be too small to use -- which is probably why Apple did not include the smart connector.  But, as I mentioned above, it's unclear to me what the benefit of the smart connector is anyway.
    I guess never having to worry about battery is a boon. That the keyboard or keyboard / trackpad connected through the smart connector only draws power when the keys are being typed on is efficient. You can also use it in airplane mode with Bluetooth off. 

    And lastly - no need to worry about using it as a tablet and needing to disconnect a Bluetooth keyboard to use the touch keyboard. That can be super annoying when you forget. 

    With my mini 5 I had a Brydge keyboard. It was small but surprisingly useful. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 25
    dymmas said:
    dymmas said:
    I sold my mini 5 a few months ago in anticipation of this one. I picked it up Friday.

    it is everything I expected but…not a huge amount more; and, in some ways, a bit less.

    Despite loving the great-looking new form factor I can’t help but feel the rounded edges of the previous design suited one-hand holding better.

    Relocating Touch ID to the side actually makes it harder as there is no visual indication as to where the button is (apart from the hard-to-see front camera).

    No Smart connector means there will never be a cute little keyboard similar to the ones for the Pros.

    And finally….the space between the icon grid and the bezels is huge! One more column of icons could easily fit each side.

    I’m a little underwhelmed but given the lockdown we are currently in (Melbourne) Apple have said you have until the stores open up for returns, so much longer than the usual two weeks. Hopefully more tinkering will get me used to these shortcomings!



    All good points, and thanks for sharing them...
    But I'm STILL confused about the benefits of the smart connector.  I understand that Apple has some really nice keyboards that use it.  But, for my grandson's iPad Gen6, a blue tooth keyboard/case/trackpad works very well*. 

    For desktops & laptops we eliminated wired keyboards and mice long ago and switched to bluetooth -- which seems to work just fine. 
    So why do iPads benefit from what is essentially a wired connection?

    *Also, a Mini would be unlikely to benefit from a keyboard/trackpad/case simply because it would be too small to use -- which is probably why Apple did not include the smart connector.  But, as I mentioned above, it's unclear to me what the benefit of the smart connector is anyway.
    I guess never having to worry about battery is a boon. That the keyboard or keyboard / trackpad connected through the smart connector only draws power when the keys are being typed on is efficient. You can also use it in airplane mode with Bluetooth off. 

    And lastly - no need to worry about using it as a tablet and needing to disconnect a Bluetooth keyboard to use the touch keyboard. That can be super annoying when you forget. 

    With my mini 5 I had a Brydge keyboard. It was small but surprisingly useful. 
    That last (shutting off the blue tooth) when you remove the iPad to use it as an iPad makes sense.   But strangely that was never an issue with my grandson's.   I think it might be because the case/keyboard/trackpad shut down (along with the BlueTooth) when you closed it -- which I typically did when I removed the iPad.   Or, maybe it was simply that when I removed the case/keyboard I simply was done typing.  Either way, I don't remember it bothering me.  But that does make sense.

    As for the Brydge keyboard, I assume that was just a normal external keyboard rather than a case/keyboard combo?
    In any case, my comment about it being too small was aimed at the case/keyboard/trackpads.  Since they could be no larger than the iPad Mini they would be very small to type on.   Even my grandson's Gen 6 iPad (9.6" or something) was pretty cramped.

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