More evidence has arrived that Apple is working on the iPad mini 6, and given that the mini’s design hasn’t really changed since the 2012 original, a bold new look could really shake up the small tablet market.
The latest rumor comes from Technordo, which claims to have got its hands on an aluminum mold of the mini 6. These are sometimes used by case makers to ensure a correct fit, and if accurate, the images would indicate a big redesign for Apple’s smallest tablet.
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We’ll hopefully get a good look at the new iPad mini next month, when Apple is expected to hold multiple launch events, but in the meantime what differences can you expect over the $399 iPad mini which Apple currently sells? Here’s everything we know so far.
iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: A new design aesthetic
The changes shown in the video above back up what has previously been teased elsewhere. Multiple sources claim that the iPad mini 6 will continue Apple’s recent trend towards squared-off edges, resulting in a product that looks like a shrunk-down version of the 2021 iPad Pro. Notably, that would mean no Home button, with a fingerprint reader said to be embedded in the power button, as with the most recent iPad Air.
That’s quite a change from the iPad mini 5, which returned to Apple’s lineup in 2019 after a four-year absence. Design wise, however, there was little in the way of difference from the iPad mini 4, which in turn had barely changed from the tablet’s first outing in 2012: rounded with large, chunky bezels.
iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: A big display size bump
The most exciting change for the iPad mini 6 is said to be a big increase in screen size. Last year, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted a new iPad mini would arrive with a screen size of between 8.5 and 9 inches, and more recently it’s been reported that the final size will be 8.4-inches. Either way, that represents a big increase on the 7.9-inch display built into the iPad mini 5.
While that may sound worrying for fans of the iPad mini’s diminutive form factor, it's been reported that this screen size increase won’t actually impact the device’s overall footprint. Leaker Jon Prosser believes that the iPad mini 6 will be 206.3mm x 137.8mm x 6.1mm — that’s just 3mm taller and wider than the existing model.
iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Specs upped via a more modern Apple chip
The iPad mini 5 uses the Apple A12 Bionic which also powered the iPhone XS family of phones. In 2021, it’s slightly long in the tooth now, so it will be unsurprising to hear that the iPad mini 6 is due for an upgrade.
How big an upgrade is open for debate, however. A couple of sources suggest that we won’t be seeing the iPhone 13’s rumored A15 chip in the iPad mini 6, only disagreeing on how dated the chipset will be. Jon Prosser believes it will match the iPhone 12 with the A14 Bionic chip, while Chinese tech site MyDrivers previously suggested the A13 found on the iPhone 11 and SE.
Hope springs eternal, however: one report claims that the iPad mini 5 will match the iPhone 13 after all.
iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: New connections aplenty
Whether or not the chipset is modernized enough for your liking, Apple will apparently be offering big improvements on the connectivity front. The iPad mini 6 will, according to Prosser, support 5G on the cellular version, and others say it will also follow the iPad Pro by switching from Lightning port to USB-C, and introducing the smart connector for added clip-on keyboard support.
The iPad mini 5 has none of these things, though notably it was the first of its line to support the Apple Pencil — albeit only the first-generation version. Hopefully the upcoming model will double down on this with support for the second-generation model.
iPad mini 6 vs iPad mini 5: Outlook
There are still plenty of gaps to fill in on the iPad mini 6, especially on the internal specs front, where there’s plenty of disagreement — but even if it only gets a modest internal upgrade, it looks like a solid improvement on the previous generation, which is a touch dated in 2021.
I own the iPad mini 5 myself: it’s the perfect companion for covering events when combined with the Apple Pencil and the brilliant Notability app. The rumored features on the iPad mini 6 look appealing to me, even if the calendar for live in-person events still looks somewhat barren, thanks to the ongoing pandemic.
Hopefully we’ll learn more about the iPad mini 6 very soon. And with so many blanks still to be filled in, this could be one of the more interesting releases Apple has up its sleeves this fall.
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