iPad mini 7 tipped for Apple event — what I want to see

The iPad mini 2021
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

Forget the iPhone 15, new AirPods Pro with USB-C and even the Apple Watch Ultra 2 — there’s only one device I’m really interested in Apple unveiling next week: the iPad mini 7. I know, I know, it’s not the grandest nor the most awe-inspiring product in Apple’s portfolio, but it’s my favorite and I’m always eager to see what new additions have been made to the baby member of the iPad family.

Unfortunately it’s fair to say rumors around the new iPad mini have left me uninspired so far. We may get a faster chip (possibly the A16 Bionic) and some new colors but a redesign seems highly unlikely. Which is a real shame — because there’s so much potential here based on what’s gone before.

I can understand the reasoning of keeping the iPad mini’s diminutive 8.3-inch display as a Liquid Retina LCD panel and not upgrading it to OLED like the iPhone 14 Pro. For starters, that could push the cost up beyond the $449 / £479 / AU$749 starting price we currently have in place. And secondly, while the iPad mini is awesome, it’s not my go-to device when I want to kick back with one of the best Netflix movies or try a spot of gaming. No, for me the iPad mini is a little backpack-friendly productivity workhorse.

For me, the iPad mini is a little backpack-friendly productivity workhorse.

Thanks to the addition of the Apple Pencil it’s become a digital notepad and when paired with one of the best wireless keyboards, it can be a super-compact pseudo laptop. It’s the perfect size for one-handed document reading and annotating and I’ve also used it as a standalone video conferencing tool sitting apart from my laptop.

That being the case, there are plenty of things I want to see from the iPad mini 7 that could build on these use cases. Chief among them being the addition of a Smart Connector so I could give Apple even more of my hard-earned cash buying a first-party iPad mini Magic Keyboard. I’ve gone into more detail about that in this article but suffice to say, it’s top of my wish list for lucky number 7.

While an Apple-made keyboard takes the top spot, there’s several more upgrades that I think should be added to the next mini iPad, even if they do end up pushing the price up.

1. More base-level storage

Shipping any product in 2023 or 2024 with 64GB as the base level storage just isn’t acceptable. If you’re going to use the iPad mini for housing documents, as opposed to just streaming content, you’re going to need at least 128GB to start with - and I’d want to see this without Apple jacking up the entry price point. 

I’d also like to see 512GB and 1TB models on offer, but I appreciate that won’t be for everyone.

2. Faster refresh rate

This is a no-brainer. Although I’d forgive Apple foregoing an OLED panel, keeping the iPad mini’s display locked at 60Hz is just unfair on our eyeballs. Even if it doesn’t make it all the way up to the 120Hz ProMotion display (which analyst Ross Young believes will be kept to the Pro models) a bump up to 90Hz would be magnanimous. 

A 90Hz refresh rate is seen on the best cheap phones now without much fuss, so adding it to Apple’s next iPad wouldn’t be much of a stretch. It would make scanning documents such as spreadsheets or flicking through pages on a Kindle book a much more pleasant experience.

3. An M-Series chip

Up top, I suggested the iPad mini 7 could be bestowed with the same A16 Bionic chip that powers the iPhone 14 Pro. And while that would be great, what I’d really like to see is a switch to Apple’s M-Series chips. Such a boost would give it unrivalled power in a portable device and put it on a par with Apple’s top-tier tablets. 

If it got the Apple M2 chip, capable of up to 15.8 trillion operations per second thanks to a 16-core Neural Engine, the iPad mini 7 would offer Lamborghini performance in a the body of a Chevvy Bolt. That’s cool.

4. Battery bump

There’s been no rumors to suggest the iPad mini 7 will be offered with a larger power pack so Apple will surely be looking to software efficiencies to make it last a little longer. On a device that’s meant to be portable, battery life is paramount. The current iPad mini 6 is no slouch; it managed 10 hours and 56 minutes in our battery test that involved web browsing over Wi-Fi with the screen set at 150 nits. But if you’re a power user looking to the iPad mini for productivity, you’ll no doubt nix it in less time than that. 

Bigger batteries can and do add weight as well as taking up space — not something easily achieved with the mini’s small footprint. But it’s my wish-list and I’ll add longer battery life if I want to.

5. MagSafe

The iPad mini 6 has no wireless charging capabilities at all. Which is annoying if you want to for example, pair it with a stand to double it up as a smart home display. Given the Pixel Tablet arrived with the singular promise of being a smart home hub and a tablet in one — adding MagSafe to the iPad mini 7 could be a game-changer. Especially if the Standby Mode feature in iOS 17 is brought over to iPadOS.

Imagine being able to magnetically snap the 8-3-inch tablet to a magnetic stand and have it instantly become a control panel for your smart home. There are currently third-party cases for the iPad mini 6 that offer a wireless charging workaround (like the Pitaka iPad Mini 6 case, $79 from Amazon) but I’d love to see Apple bring this in-house.

Expectations vs reality

The iPad mini 2021

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

Just as there are things I want to see from the next iPad mini, there’s stuff I don’t really care about. The cameras, for one. I don’t use my iPad mini for taking pictures or much AR work, so I’m happy if they don’t get touched. I’m also not fussed whether Apple decides to add a new color to the mix. And finally, if Apple decides to improve on the 20W power adapter that comes with the current iPad mini 6 then great — but I won’t lose sleep over it.

Now I’ve been covering Apple launches long enough to know that next week’s Wonderlust event may give me one or two of the items on this list if I’m lucky. Everything points to this year’s product being an iterative refresh. But that doesn’t stop me from being a huge iPad mini fanboy and I’ll probably jump up to number 7 even if it doesn’t satisfy all my portable powerhouse desires.

We’ll be covering the upcoming Apple event as-it-happens here on Tom’s Guide and you can read about everything else we’re expecting to see right here

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Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.

A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.