New iPad Mini review: Tiny tablet gets huge upgrade and gorgeous new look
APPLE’S new iPad Mini is finally here – and it’s a HUGE upgrade over the last one.
I’ve been trying out this mini-but-mighty machine for the past week, and I just don’t want to put it down.
- Apple iPad Mini, 64GB (Space Grey), Amazon – £479 / $499.99
Apple launched the iPad in 2010, following up with the smaller and more pocketable iPad Mini two years later.
The most recent update came in 2019, although it was a performance boost rather than a design overhaul.
Now iPad Mini has finally been given the love it deserves, with a total makeover and a serious hardware upgrade.
The new design is seriously slick – mostly because it looks like a sized-up iPhone.
That means squared-off edges and an all-screen front.
There’s no notch or Face ID. Instead, you log in with a Touch ID fingerprint scanner built into a button on the top-right corner of the device.
And you can also use Touch ID to pay for apps or products online.
It means the display is largely uninterrupted, save for a somewhat large bezel.
The screen is an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display, which has a decent 500 nits peak brightness – fine for most outdoor use.
Most importantly, the display is sharp and colour-accurate.
Apple’s new iPad Mini comes in four colour options: Space Grey, Pink, Starlight and Purple.
I’ve been using the latter and it’s shimmery, very pretty and altogether joyous.
Apple has upgraded the new iPad Mini with its next-gen A15 Bionic chip – as seen in the new iPhone 13.
That means it’s fast as hell – processing alone is 40% quicker, and graphics are nippier still.
It’s a real coup for a tablet of its size to pack so much performance.
Standard storage is 64GB – it’s not loads, but will probably do for most people.
And for everyone else, there’s a paid-for upgrade to 256GB available.
Apple promises “all-day battery life” with the new Mini, which holds up in my experience.
I struggled to run it down with fairly normal use: a bit of drawing, some YouTube, note-taking, a few FaceTimes and listening to music.
You’ll be fine with it on a long train ride or flight – and it’s a great accessory for the working day too.
The charging port has switched to USB-C from Lightning. It’s increasingly common, and fits in with Apple Macs and other iPads.
And it’s a good move, because USB-C is an industry-wide standard, so it’s more versatile than the Apple-only Lightning cables.
One of the biggest and best upgrades for the Mini is support for Apple Pencil.
It attaches magnetically and charges up while glued to the side of your device.
The Apple Pencil really is a joy to use, and makes drawing fun – even if you’re rubbish at it, as I am.
And it’s very good for taking notes too, offering a very natural feel.
Sadly, it’s not free – you’ll have to fork out a hefty $119/£119 for the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil. Still, it’s a no-brainer for the artistically inclined.
The rear camera is decent: it’s no iPhone 13, but it’s certainly fine for casual snapping.
And the 12MP front camera also offers great quality, including for FaceTimes.
The iPad Mini also now borrows the iPad Pro’s Centre Stage feature, which tracks you (and others) around the room to keep you focused-on during video calls.
Like the new iPhones, the iPad Mini has been fitted with support for 5G on cellular models.
So you can get ultra-fast internet while out and about – but only if you have a 5G SIM, and you’re somewhere with a 5G signal.
Both of those variables are becoming more likely by the day, so it’s a great time to upgrade.
Lastly, the iPad Mini runs on Apple’s new iPad OS 15.
It means the device is better at multi-tasking with more multi-app views, there are new iPad widgets for your homescreen, and you finally get the iPhone’s App Library.
New iPad Mini review verdict
The iPad Mini doesn’t always get the best reception – because it’s not for everyone.
It’s really for people who want a tablet, and one that’s portable.
If you’re looking for a workhouse, you’ll go for the iPad Air or iPad Pro.
And if you’re not fussed about a bit more power and fitting it in a coat pocket, you’ll opt for the cheaper entry-level iPad.
But for people who want a powerful iPad that you can very comfortably move around and hold, the iPad Mini will tick your boxes.
For me, it’s the perfect gaming iPad – I’m obsessed with playing Wild Rift on it, and the size is much better versus playing it on an iPad Pro.
Plus, for the $499/£479 price tag, it’s not a bad buy as a tablet at all.
The Sun says: The powerful and portable iPad Mini returns better than ever – with a gorgeous new design, 5G and support for Apple Pencil. Tempting as ever, if it’s your thing. 5/5
The new iPad Mini starts at $499/£479 and is available in stores from Friday, September 24.
- Apple iPad Mini, 64GB (Space Grey), Amazon – £479 / $499.99
- Apple iPad Mini, 256GB (Space Grey), Amazon – £619 / $649.99
All prices in this article were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed. Always do your own research before making any purchase.
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