Five key features missing from Apple's new iPad mini

Posted:
in iPad edited October 7
Apple's new iPad mini is striking because of its redesign and refined features, but there are still areas Apple could have worked on. Here's where Apple could have made even more improvements to the compact tablet.

Apple updated the iPad mini with a new look, but it could have done more.
Apple updated the iPad mini with a new look, but it could have done more.


Of all the iPads, the iPad mini was arguably overdue a redesign. This year, Apple gave it just that, and effectively turned their smallest tablet into a mini version of the iPad Air 4.

Smaller bezels, a squared-off design, and the single-slab-of-aluminum feel from the 2018 iPad Pro redesign have resulted in a sixth generation iPad mini that has been long-awaited by many. Throw in the latest A15 Bionic chip, and it's also one of their most powerful.

But it isn't perfect. In fact, there are five areas in which the new iPad mini is lacking.



MagSafe

Apple made the sensible decision to switch from Lightning to USB-C for the iPad mini's charging and data port.

It's unlikely we'll ever see USB-C on the iPhone, so for it to be present on the smallest iPad is a real boon for anyone who has an abundance of USB-C devices.

Yes, there's USB-C in the iPad mini, but not MagSafe.
Yes, there's USB-C, in the iPad mini, but not MagSafe.


But why isn't it compatible with MagSafe? The ability to charge via the MagSafe battery puck' and attach the countless accessories that would follow from third-party manufacturers would deliver, big time, in convenience and functionality.

Face ID

Owing to the fact that the new iPad mini no longer has a home button, Apple has moved the Touch ID sensor onto its top-mounted power button. It's the same play as the iPad Air 4, and it's a brilliant move.

However, you might miss Face ID if you've become used to that form of biometric security on your iPhone or iPad Pro.

Touch ID has moved to the corner, but it could have been switched for Face ID.
Touch ID has moved to the corner, but it could have been switched for Face ID.


The new home for Touch ID makes a lot of sense when the iPad mini is placed flat on the desk for note-taking duties (one of its key strengths), but when holding it, you'd be hard-pressed not to wish that Face ID was present.

A cheaper version

The iPad mini starts at $499. That isn't a cheap iPad, and it sits some way north of the brilliant 9th generation iPad (which currently retails at just $329). You get a lot for your money, undoubtedly; it has the fastest chip, the latest design, and is compatible with the latest Apple Pencil.

But there's a strange disconnect with the storage options. You can either go for 64GB or 256GB - there's no 128GB option, a level at which the iPhone 13 starts.

If there was a 128GB option, the 64GB model could conceivably be offered for a lower price, which would put it in reach of many more people.

Waterproofing

iPads have never had official IP ratings, and for good reason. You're unlikely to regularly find yourself in situations where they're likely to get wet.

The sheer portability of the iPad mini means that it's one of the few iPads that does deserve some form of official water resistance.

It's a decent tablet, but could waterproofing help the iPad mini become more widely used?
It's a decent tablet, but could waterproofing help the iPad mini become more widely used?


No one is going to take their iPad mini swimming, but if there was an IP rating attached to the device, it would offer peace of mind for those who are more adventurous with this little tablet.

Apple's promotional videos for the iPad mini tell stories of people using them out in the field and, literally, in the wild - surely that makes it deserving of an IP rating?

A mini Magic Keyboard

Imagine a small version of the Magic Keyboard, designed specifically for the iPad mini. This wouldn't be for long typing sessions, either, but ideal for note-taking, email, and quick tasks where a physical keyboard is desirable.

Equally, this could be a terrible idea, but it would at least be an option for anyone who fancies turning their iPad mini into a tiny laptop.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 627member
    Not many may agree with me, but the only reason I am not upgrading my iPad Pro from like 4 or 5 years ago is that it charges wirelessly on the Logitech Logi Base. It just sits in my living room without any weird cable sticking out from its side when charging, no lose cable on the floor or a table when it is not charging. I just pick it up when I sit down on the couch, or move over to the dining table, and put it back when I leave. The convenience is so big that I cannot understand why they removed wireless charging and have not added it back. Arguably, wireless charging for an iPad is a bigger convenience gain than on an iPhone, because the iPad is less portable than an iPhone but not as stationary as a desk top or even a laptop.
    williamlondonpatchythepiratemattinozAlex_Vlibertyforall
  • Reply 2 of 11
    Number 3 (lower price) perfectly explains Apple's decision to omit the other options.  Obviously Apple could have included wireless charging (adding components and thickness) and FaceID (adding specialized sensors) and made it more water resistant (with additional gaskets and tighter tolerances), but those all would have resulted in a higher price tag (or lower margins, ha).  Adding $100 to the price of every iPad mini would have been a major impediment to adoption (presumably).
    williamlondonSolomon_GrundyAlex_Vcommand_fwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    I have a vintage Zagg folding pocket keyboard that supports the mini6 in landscape and portrait modes.  Very convenient but not a speed typist tool. Works for my hunt and peck typing skills. It does require the old usb style connector charging cable and a 5 watt wall wart. This Zagg keyboard was sold for the iPhone of the day.
    edited October 6 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 990member
    I agree with the first two, but my last three would have been OLED display, Pro Motion, and 5g mm Wave support. UW chip, maybe. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    I have ordered the Mini 6 to replace my 5. I like most of your ideas. I have magnetic charging connectors that I’m using now and will use on the 6, so the MagSafe is a mute point, though it would be nice. I agree, 128GB should’ve been the low end, 256 and 512 mid and high end.  But, having my movies in the cloud and a lot of things like that does mean less need of massive storage. I've had my 5 for 2 years and still have 30GBs of unused storage. I agree, the keyboard option would be nice but it would have limited use and probably a high price. DAs for the tougher standards, I put a skin on my 5(which I’m trading in) and with a good case and reasonable treatment, it still looks brand new. You can have nice things if you give some protection and careful handling. As far as FaceID, I like the new placement of the TouchID. I like TouchID and since you have to do something whether it’s swiping up or touching the Power button to get in, it’s really a matter of choice. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    For me (and I'm loving the Mini 6 that replaced a Mini 2) it would be:

    • the iPhone/Pro cameras. People shooting movies on iPhones would likely work even better with a bit more screen RE. Personally, I use the cellular Mini to cover "phone" (with buds) needs too, so the hardware goodies of iPhone not included here are desired here.
    • DO NOT remove the 3.5mm headphone jack so that we have a dongle-free way to listen to that lossless music, while those happy with less-than-lossless could still enjoy Bluetooth and/or USB-C connections. I will bet ANYONE that the Apple-made DAC inside this Mini is superior to the DAC inside the $10 retail dongle sold to give us 3.5mm people a way to connect. So this is really about a PORT to link to the high-quality DAC already in there (exactly as it was for prior Mini models). If Apple wanted the extra $10 for the dongle, just charge $10 more to leave the port inside. This is actually my greatest disappointment about the 6. Unlike the plausible argument for jettisoning it from the phone, there is certainly plenty of room for it to stay... and if it did, it would have no effect on those who so very passionately argue for the other audio options. Everyone could "win" without pushing dongles on one group. 
    • Even more storage options. Since A15s are already built with >256GB storage on board, why not make those available here too? 4K cameras shooting 4K video will beg for more storage on board. iCloud, etc is not always available and/or cellular bandwidth may not be there even if it is. Yes, presumably a hard drive attached via USB-C may cover this kind of need. But see last point. I really don't want the thing to need a "tail" hanging off of it to do what I want to do. 
    • More Battery. I'm happy with what I'm getting "as is" but would love more. They shaved a little weight off the prior generation. I would rather have a little more weight due to more battery. Again if Apple needs the money for a little more battery and a little more case metal to accommodate it, just charge the extra in the price.  

    I realize I'm probably describing a Mini 6 Pro and that Apple price would probably be Pro too at about $1000-$1200. But that would be OK- IMO- to get those features too. 

    For all the rest the 6 delivered, I love, love, love it! It's such a leap from the 2, I can't hardly believe it. I'm also getting to use the iOS new stuff since iOS12 was "it" for the 2. 

    Of the 5 points mentioned in the article, personally, I don't really care about any of them. As ApplePoor mentioned, any bluetooth keyboard already on hand can stand in for something specific from Apple. I don't know that a mini magic keyboard would be so great. There's a point where the keyboard must get too small to fit a form factor. I would imagine this would probably get there. However, some kind of foldable or even rollout (towards or full-size) keyboard when needed should fill in nicely for the keyboard need. There's plenty of them... without the Apple premium. 

    These are just my own opinions and are not intended to be some kind of attack on Apple needing defense. If I could remake it my own way, I'd make it mostly as is but add those 4 things. 
    edited October 6 muthuk_vanalingamrandominternetpersonargonautAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    @HobeSoundDarryl ;
    iPad mini Pro would be awesome. Headphone jack and bigger battery would be top of my list, too. Add waterproofing and ProMotion display and I am in.
    Get rid of the Air and simplify the iPad line:
    iPad mini, iPad mini Pro
    iPad, iPad Pro
    large iPad Pro
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    I really wish it had MagSafe, and am frankly surprised that it isn’t there.
    sflagelwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,948member
    I would have preferred Face ID, a Smart Connector, 3.5 mm audio, and a better blue color, like on the iPad Air.

    Apple has such a dominant position in the high quality tablet market that they have to be very careful about delivering the most value for the greatest number of buyers at the right price. Their customers are, for the most part, not even looking at the competition - because there is no competition. As such, they don’t want their buyers to feel like Apple is taking advantage of them, so they have to walk that fine line between keeping the product delivering premium quality and premium functionality without going to far up the price curve.

    There is probably a sweet spot in terms the features where Apple feels they are going to keep satisfying the buyers in the niche market the iPad mini serves. Adding more features at greater cost has a diminishing return on driving more additional sales based on by those additional features. It would be one thing if the iPad mini had a wider array of up-sell features that could be added-on by buyers looking for everything under the sun with price being no object, but it doesn’t. Every additional feature or variation Apple adds to the mini raises the base price for everyone and squeezes the niche market a little tighter. 

    My feeling is that Apple picked a feature set that can sustain iPad mini sales for at least a 2-year refresh cycle. As much as I love the mini, I’ll be more than a little surprised if Apple pushes out an iPad mini 7 prior to 2023, possibly even longer. I don’t think the iPad mini 6 will have any problems delivering value for at least 3-5 years, at which time Apple’s whole approach to jumbo sized iPhones and mini sized iPads may morph into a single form factor device that satisfies both needs, perhaps a folding or portfolio type of device. Who knows?
    edited October 7 muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,441member
    Japhey said:
    I agree with the first two, but my last three would have been OLED display, Pro Motion, and 5g mm Wave support. UW chip, maybe. 
    mm wave 5G is of limited to no use on an iPad - it won't penetrate buildings at all and even outside is limited to line-of-sight connectivity with the limited number of transmitters in large cities.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 11
    sflagel said:
    Not many may agree with me, but the only reason I am not upgrading my iPad Pro from like 4 or 5 years ago is that it charges wirelessly on the Logitech Logi Base. It just sits in my living room without any weird cable sticking out from its side when charging, no lose cable on the floor or a table when it is not charging. I just pick it up when I sit down on the couch, or move over to the dining table, and put it back when I leave. The convenience is so big that I cannot understand why they removed wireless charging and have not added it back. Arguably, wireless charging for an iPad is a bigger convenience gain than on an iPhone, because the iPad is less portable than an iPhone but not as stationary as a desk top or even a laptop.
    YES! 100%
    williamlondonsflagel
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