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Review Apple iPad mini 6 (2021)

A little speed monster

The new iPad mini is not for everyone, but for those of you who like the compact format, it is the best tablet purchase you can make.

iPad mini 6
Karakter
Apple iPad mini 6 (2021)
A15 Bionic processor, USB-C, enhanced camera with "In Focus", 5G and high-quality iconic Apple design. In addition, travel-friendly and compact.
The IPS screen is not up to date, and could have been brighter anyway.
  • Operating system: iPadOS 15
  • Screen: 8.3″ Liquid Retina IPS, 2266 x 1488, 326 ppi
  • Processor: Apple A15 Bionic
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM / 256 GB storage
  • Cameras: 12 Mp f/1.8 (primary) / 12 Mp 122° ultra-wide angle f/2.4 (front)
  • Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Dimensions and weight: 195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3 mm / 297 g
  • Battery: 19.3 Wh, 20W fast charge
  • Web: apple.co.uk

Apple’s iPad mini and Samsung’s Galaxy Note series have one thing in common. Both are niche products compared to the two manufacturers’ more common models (respectively iPad Air and the mobiles in the Samsung Galaxy S series), but they still have their loyal fans, who all think that the products’ respective special form factors are absolutely perfect.

This is how I personally feel about the iPad mini. By and large, it can do the same as the larger tablets in the iPad Air series, but the iPad mini is a bit smaller both in terms of weight and size – for example, it fits perfectly in the inner pocket of most coats – and so it is even cheaper.

iPad mini 6 (2021)

With an 8.3″ screen and compact format, the iPad mini fits in the inside pocket of most coats. (Photo: Apple)

The brand new iPad mini is e.g. a significantly better purchase than the current iPad Air, which came on the market a little over a year ago. The 2021 version of the iPad mini comes with both 5G and Apple’s latest A15 Bionic processor, and it has also had its selfie camera improved compared to last year’s Air model. And yet it costs 700 kroner less. It is to touch and feel.

iPad mini is significantly better than its predecessor

However, the new iPad mini especially offers many improvements compared to its own predecessor from 2019, which was probably even cheaper, but in return had to settle for a smaller screen and the same old-fashioned design as the very cheap iPad – that is, a wide frame around the screen and the large round home button with built-in Touch ID on the front.

Not least, the 2021 edition of the iPad mini – also called the iPad mini 6 – has a completely new design in the same style as the aforementioned iPad Air, namely with sharp lines and edges combined with rounded corners, just as Touch ID now sits in power button.

iPad mini 6 (2021)

Touch ID is now in the power button. (Photo: Apple)

It’s also great that the Lightning port has been replaced with USB-C – as on the iPad Pro – allowing you to connect many more types of accessories, and the transfer speed has also increased significantly.

The screen is of the same type as on the iPad Air – Liquid Retina – and thus also supports Apple’s True Tone technology, which adapts the screen’s white balance to your surroundings so the screen becomes more comfortable for the eyes to look at for longer periods of time.

Another thing the iPad mini 6 has in common with the iPad Air is the built-in stereo speakers, which have now been placed horizontally. That way you get great stereo sound, no matter if you play games or watch video on your tablet.

iPad mini 6 (2021)

It’s great that the Lightning port has been replaced with USB-C, which allows you to connect many more types of accessories, and the transfer speed has also increased considerably. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

Camera function from iPad Pro

And as previously mentioned, it is of course the camera, where both the iPad mini from 2019 and the iPad Air from 2020 must see themselves beaten. The new iPad mini has a completely new front camera similar to that of the far more expensive iPad Pro, with an ultra-wide-angle lens of 122° that supports the ‘In Focus’ function Apple launched last year.

In Focus (also called Center Stage), artificial intelligence uses the new front ultra-wide-angle camera to follow the person speaking, when holding video conferences at work or talking to grandparents via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. If you are in the middle of the picture, you are virtually followed by the camera for up to approx. 2.5 meters both to the right and left, and the effect works impeccably and seems very natural in daily use.

It works at least as well on the iPad mini as on this spring’s big iPad Pro, and I already dare to predict that the function will also find its way to Apple’s next iPad Air model.

The primary camera is also quite respectable, and although I hesitate from taking pictures with a tablet, the iPad mini manages the task rather brilliantly, something you can see examples of in the photo gallery below.

IMG_0028 IMG_0031 IMG_0032 IMG_0033 IMG_0034 IMG_0035 IMG_0037 IMG_0039
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(Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

Mops the floor with the competitors

The new iPad Mini’s biggest advantage is the hefty A15 Bionic processor, which the product has in common with the new iPhone 13 series. This is Apple’s best mobile processor to date, which simply mops the floor with everything competitors can dish up.

If we e.g. comparing the Benchmark results for the iPad mini with the equivalent for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, which comes with the Snapdragon 888, the numbers look like this:

Geekbench 5:

iPad mini – 1601 (single-core) / 4631 (multi-core)
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 – 1135 (single-core) / 3386 (multi-core)

AnTuTu 9:

iPad mini – 835 699
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 – 710 618

3DMark Wild Life:

iPad mini – 9583
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 – 5646

Basemark Web 3.0:

iPad mini – 1092.03
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 – 489.2

These results speak for themselves, and it’s not just theory. Also in daily use, the iPad mini is a small speed monster that you can not tame. Ten out of ten times I personally choose the iPad mini over the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and I don’t care about the fact that iPad screen cannot be folded on the middle!

Speaking of the screen, it is actually our only significant point of criticism. Apple should have equipped the iPad mini with the same Mini-LED display technology as the iPad Pro. Instead, they are still focusing on the slightly outdated IPS technology, which in practice means that the brightness is always perceived as a little too low, and where the contrast and black level could also have been better.

It’s sad, because it detracts from the overall impression of an otherwise perfect product.

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Both in Geekbench 5 and in 3DMark Wild Life, the iPad mini scores far higher than e.g. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is equipped with the Snapdragon 888 processor from Qualcomm. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

Conclusion

Small iPad mini is not for everyone. Many people probably think that the screen is too small, but if you, like me, prefer the compact format, there is actually no better tablet on the market right now. Yes, big brother iPad Pro, but then we are in a completely different price range.

Apple’s latest iPad mini performs like a nuclear power plant, and also comes with so many other improvements – 5G, stereo sound, USB-C, ultra-wide angle selfie camera and “In Focus” function, etc., that we can live with the fact that we have to do without the Mini-LED screen iPad mini so obviously deserves.

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