5 reasons why iPad mini 6 is the perfect e-reader, and 3 reasons why it isn't
I've never really been much of a reader. Once I am into a book or series, I enjoy it, but picking up a book has always been lower on my priority list with so much other media available to consume. I'm far more likely to binge a TV show, watch a new movie, or play a video game than I am to spend hours with my nose in a paperback. Audiobooks never found a space in my life either, beaten out by the amount of podcasts and music I listen to. Plus, because I have to read and write many words for work, reading in my spare time can feel a bit like more work.
There are always books that sound interesting to me, both fiction and non-fiction, and I buy a few per year, but I rarely get a chance to immerse myself in them. The iPad mini 6 has changed that, though, and I've read more since owning one than I had for a long time prior. It's clearly the best iPad to use as an e-reader, and it might just be the best e-reader period. Here's why.
Why the iPad mini is the perfect e-reader
Since it arrived, the iPad mini has become my favorite way to read books. It makes sense to me for quite a few reasons, and it might make sense to you too.
Size and weight
The most obvious reason the iPad mini 6 is excellent for reading is its compact size and lightweight design. However, weight is perhaps the most crucial aspect. At 0.65 pounds, it's slightly lighter than the iPad mini 5 and much lighter than other iPad models. The weight is distributed evenly across the whole device, too, which means you can comfortably hold it for hours without your arm getting tired.
It's also small enough to keep on your nightstand or take on the go in a bag or even in your jacket pocket. That added portability makes it a better pick than any other iPad for reading, whether you want to take it on your next flight or carry it daily on your commute.
Not only is the iPad mini 6 a joy to hold for extended periods due to its size and weight, but Apple has also managed to fit more screen into an overall smaller form factor. With a slightly taller display, you can get more text on the screen at once, which suits a text-first task like reading.
But that's not the only reason the iPad mini 6 display is great for reading books — it's also the highest resolution iPad display currently available. At 2266x1488 pixels, it maintains the 326 pixels per inch resolution of the iPad mini 5 despite the display growing to 8.3 inches from 7.9 inches. That makes it sharper than even the iPad Pro's display, so the text looks super-sharp.
It's also a backlit display, unlike many (but not all) e-readers or, you know, actual paper books that rely on external light to make them readable. With True Tone, you even get a page that is easy on the eye no matter your lighting conditions.
I don't know about you, but to form a habit, I need some reward. Maybe it's my dumb brain, but something like a goal, streak, or digital medal is more than enough to get me to change my behavior which is why the Apple Watch activity rings have clicked so well for me.
In the Apple Books app, there's a similar, if a little more basic, offering in the form of Reading Goals. Here, you can set daily and yearly targets to encourage you to read more often. You might just put it at 10 minutes per day, but keeping that daily streak going is pretty motivating and adding books to your list of finished titles feels like a real achievement.
Of course, this feature could be fleshed out further, and there are other goal-based systems on Kindle and Kobo, but it's a nice-to-have feature for the iPad mini 6.
Introduced in iPadOS 15, the new Focus modes are like Do Not Disturb on steroids which is excellent for blocking out distractions when you want to focus on your current book. Better yet, Focus allows you to set a particular Focus based on what app is in use. That means, as soon as you open the Books or Kindle app, you can have the system automatically turn off any alerts you don't want to see.
Fans of dedicated e-readers often espouse the unitasking nature of a device like the Kindle as a real plus point since it removes any opportunity to be distracted. If used correctly, I think a Focus mode serves just as well for this purpose and even goes one better by syncing your notification settings across your Apple devices. Just because you have your Kindle or Kobo in hand doesn't mean your phone or Apple Watch can't ping you. With Focus, you can achieve notification-free zen status everywhere with one tap.
More than just books
Even though Focus can lock down your iPad (and other devices) to offer a dedicated reading experience, you still have a fully-featured tablet at the end of the day.
As well as reading words on a page, you can use your iPad mini 6's Liquid Retina display to read other visual media like magazines, comics, your favorite websites, email newsletters, and more. While E Ink is terrific for battery life, it's not great for scrolling or displaying much other than text. The iPad mini 6's multi-touch LED display can do it all.
Plus, when you're done reading, you can kick back with a movie, enjoy a podcast, play some Apple Arcade games, or use it to get some work done with the powerful A15 Bionic chip inside. Though it's smaller, it can do anything its larger iPad siblings can. Since many folks don't want or can't afford a dedicated device for reading, it makes total sense for the iPad mini 6 to be your do-it-all tablet device.
Why the iPad mini 6 is not so great as an e-reader
With all of that said, the iPad mini 6 isn't perfect, and there are reasons to consider a standalone e-reader. So let's take a look at why the iPad mini 6 might not work for you before you rush out and buy one.
The great outdoors
For me in the northern hemisphere, I'm all for hunkering down for the winter with a good book right now. The iPad mini's display is perfectly bright at 500 nits peak brightness in indoor settings. If you want to use it outside, though, it's not as great. It's certainly usable in most places, but it might let you down at the beach or by the pool in the height of summer, and an E Ink display would serve you better.
No tub time
Another use case that does not suit the iPad mini 6 is in or around any body of water. Whether you like to dip your feet in the pool mentioned above or relax with a good book in the bathtub, the iPad mini is not a device you should consider. It has no formal water resistance rating, so any steam or splashes could be potentially harmful.
Instead, you ought to check out one of the latest Kindle devices or something like the Kobo Forma for a more rugged e-reader with up to IPX8 protection. Or take a paper book with you in these scenarios if you don't mind your pages getting all wavy.
There's no denying that $499 is expensive for a tablet, let alone an e-reader. Amazon's (not so great) Fire tablets start at 10% of that price, and its (actually very good) Kindle e-readers are not much more. So if you want a device that will only ever fulfill the duties of an e-reader, you can be well served for less money.
Suppose you want a top-tier Apple experience, including the premium physical design, software smarts, and all that an iPad can offer in addition to digital books. In that case, you might prefer to punt for an Apple tablet.
Time to pick up a good book
If you already own an iPad mini or you're considering one for digital reading, or you're a die-hard Kindle user, now's a great time of year to get reading. For me, being able to take the iPad mini 6 with me anywhere in the home and the comfort of reading on it versus my iPad Pro or iPhone has meant I've read more books in the last few months than I have the rest of the year. So that makes it a real winner in my book.
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Adam Oram is a Senior Writer at iMore. He studied Media at Newcastle University and has been writing about technology since 2013. He previously worked as an Apple Genius and as a Deals Editor at Thrifter. His spare time is spent watching football (both kinds), playing Pokémon games, and eating vegan food. Follow him on Twitter at @adamoram.