Skip to main content

iPad mini 6 has a major 5G weakness

iPad mini 6
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple touted the iPad mini 6's 5G connectivity as a great perk for the ultra-portable tablet, but there's an asterisk that may sting for those expect a lot of speed from their 5G connection.  That's a lack of mmWave 5G wireless connectivity, the flavor of 5G cellular service that currently delivers the fastest 5G performance. 

The speeds of mmWav outpace Sub-6 GHz  5G, which is an improvement over LTE, though not by a lot. Sub-6GHz happens to be the version of 5G that's in the iPad mini 6. And this may be a frustrating thing to learn, especially if you already pre-ordered the iPad mini 6. Currently, the only iPad with mmWave is the iPad Pro (though the iPhone 13 and 12 work with both mmWave and Sub-6 GHz).

AT&T's already shown off how its mmWave implementation, known as 5G Plus, handily beats its own 4G LTE. It annihilates 4G by 12x on download speeds (632 MBps vs 52.8 MBps) and by nearly 14x on uploads (35.5 Mbps vs 2.54 Mbps). 

The iPad Pro, of course (as well as the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lines), have mmWave 5G.

iPad mini 6 5G vs iPad Pro 5G

(Image credit: Apple)

It's worth noting that mmWave 5G doesn't go everywhere. Signals from mmWave 5G require a line of sight with the signal tower, and do not travel as far as Sub-6 5G. So, those in densely populated areas, in large buildings where the signal would have to penetrate wall after wall, may not even get mmWave 5G.

That said, anyone on the road, or out and about at an open-air event such as a sports arena or music festival, will likely wish they had mmWave 5G if it's available, though your cellular company provider's rollout of 5G may make this whole situation moot. 

For example, AT&T is still expanding that 5G Plus service. In July, AT&T announced that it was bringing 5G Plus to 25 major U.S. airports ... by the end of 2022 (it will be in seven by the end of this year). Verizon's already ahead of its rival carrier, with its 5G Ultra Wideband in 13 airports as of May 2021. 

Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.