I'd buy an iPad mini 7 over any tablet, but Apple has to fix this headache first

iPad mini 6
(Image credit: Apple)

I've been reviewing tablets for years and using them at home for decades, and I'm finally ready to admit it: They're too damn big for me.

For most of my life, that's been a good thing. I don't know about you but I spend a lot of time looking at screens, so if I'm going to buy one I want it to be nice to look at and easy to see. 

For a long time now the best tablet, at least for me, has been the iPad Pro (2022). Not only does it speed through anything you could throw at it, but the largest Pro offers one of the best screens I've ever seen on a tablet. The 12.9-inch mini-LED beauty supports HDR and gets nice and bright, so it's equally lovely to look at out on the patio at lunch or in bed after dinner.

There's just one problem: The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is way too big for me to hold comfortably for long periods of time.

This has become painfully clear to me after using one around the house, where it excels as a ready-to-hand computer for quick tasks. There's no doubt in my mind that the iPad Pro is the best tablet for many because it's great for playing games, watching movies and reading books. But even at a relatively svelte one and a half pounds, cradling the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in my arms gets tiresome after 15-20 minutes. 

The iPad Pro sports a big, beautiful display that makes games like Genshin Impact look great, but holding it gets painful before too long. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

So when it comes time to buy a new tablet, I think I'll stick with Apple but steer towards the pint-sized offerings rather than the big boy Pros. The iPad mini caught my eye because it's long been one of the best iPads for folks who don't need a big screen, since you get all the other great features of an iPad in a size that's a lot easier to hold.

And now that we're hearing rumors the iPad mini 7 could be released this year, I can't help but get a little excited at the thought of picking up a new iPad mini with new features and who knows, maybe some fun new colors too.

A big part of my newfound zeal for the iPad mini comes from my colleague Tony's recent story about reading manga on a Kindle Paperwhite vs. iPad mini 6 for a week, since he pointed out how comfy the iPad mini feels to hold while reading for hours. I've always loved that aspect of my old Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, but until he wrote about the experience, I never considered I could get the speed, style and capabilities of a modern iPad in a tablet I can hold in one hand with zero issues.

Kindle Paperwhite vs iPad mini 6

As you can see, the iPad mini (right) is nearly identical in size and design to the Kindle Paperwhite, but it has a far more beautiful display that's ideal for reading comics. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

So I'm thinking an iPad mini is the way to go, and I'm excited to see what Apple does with the line. The current Apple iPad mini 6 was released way back in 2021, so it doesn't even have an M-series slice of Apple silicon inside — the mini is still powered by the same A15 Bionic chip that drives the iPhone 13.

Of course, that's not so old as chips go; I still carry an iPhone 13 and it's plenty fast enough for everyday use. But while I won't rule out snagging a nice iPad mini 6 at a deep discount, I'd love to wait for the new model and see Apple upgrade the iPad mini 7 with one of its fancy new M2 or M3 chips. A better screen would be lovely too, but as long as we're wishing for nice things, you know what I'd really love?

I wish Apple would sell its tablets with a little more storage onboard, so folks didn't get caught in the squeeze of buying an entry-level iPad and finding out six months in they've filled it up with photos, videos and games. 

See, the iPad mini (and every other iPad except the Pro) ships with 64GB of storage space by default. You can pay more for more storage, but you don't get many options. If you're not content with 64GB on your iPad mini 6 you can pay extra to upgrade to 256GB, but it adds an extra $150 to the already $500 iPad mini. 

Now hey, 64GB isn't nothing. And it's better than the 32GB Apple used to sell all its iPads with by default. But in the year 2024, 64GB doesn't go very far, and the fact is you don't even get that much. Remember, iPadOS eats up close to 10GB by itself, and every time you update it you need to have another 5-7GB of free space temporarily available for the software update process.

So in practice, that 64GB iPad really comes with closer to 50-55GB of usable storage. That's good enough to load up for a short plane trip with a few episodes of your favorite show, some games, photos and a library full of ebooks. So it's understandable why Apple would sell tablets with this little space, even though it's only going to become more precious as years go by and file sizes get larger—plenty of people never need more than 50-60GB of space on their iPad.

But I do. I want to make sure that an iPad I buy this year will still be fast and functional in 5-10 years, and that means thinking ahead to all the games, movies, books and apps I'll want to throw on there in 2027 or 2029. By that time file sizes will likely be even bigger than they are now, so I might start feeling the pinch of only having 64GB of space. I might just regret not dropping an extra $150 for 4x the storage, even though really I don't think I need the full 256GB upgrade. I'd be a lot happier with an iPad mini with 128GB of storage that I could buy for a simple $75 price increase, but that's not the Apple way—the company only sells two sizes of iPad mini 6, and if 64GB isn't good enough for you, the only size alternative is to shell out nearly $200 to upgrade to 256GB.

iPad mini 6 store page

This is not enough storage to start with, and the fact that you can only pay $150 for a 4x storage upgrade feels like Apple taking advantage of that to gouge customers on storage upgrades. (Image credit: Apple)

Now that's not the end of the world, but it does feel painful when I know Apple can afford a lot more iPads than I can. I'd rather not have to think this hard about whether 192GB more storage is worth an extra $150 when I really only want like 50 or 60GB more, and I'd rather pay less than $100 for the privilege.

If Apple does end up shipping an iPad mini 7, I'd love to see the company fix this storage headache by giving iPads more storage to start with, and then making it cheaper to upgrade. There's no clear reason I can see (except business) for not being able to buy an iPad mini with 128GB of storage, given that Apple sells one with double that or half that. And since the company sells iPad Pros in five different sizes (from 128GB on up to 2TB), I'd love to see a future where the palm-sized iPad mini gets the same treatment.

More from Tom's Guide

Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.