Forget iPhone 13, iPad mini 6 is the real reason to be excited this fall

Ipad Mini 6 2021 Lifestyle Touch Id
Ipad Mini 6 2021 Lifestyle Touch Id (Image credit: Apple)

Event days are like Christmas for Apple nerds. While the general public will probably mostly hear about iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7, and even the new entry-level 9th-gen iPad, niche sites like ours are spaces where we can get excited about things with a little less mainstream appeal.

As a fan of Apple's products, the all-new iPad mini 6 is what really stole the show for me at Apple's September event. The iPad mini line was long overdue an update, and boy did it get one.

It was hard to justify spending $400 on a device from 2019 with a design straight out of 2012.

I have been toying with the idea of getting an iPad mini for my downtime. I use my iPad for work, and it's generally attached to a Smart Keyboard when in use for this purpose, and it's in a stand of some kind when using it for media streaming.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is far too cumbersome, in my opinion, to use handheld for long periods of time, making it less than an ideal device for reading, watching movies, or playing games — all the things I think an iPad mini is great for.

The problem is, the iPad mini 5 was getting pretty long in the tooth with its A12 Bionic chip and old-school design. It was hard to justify spending $400 on a device from 2019, with components from 2018 and a design straight out of 2012. So, I waited it out.

Enter iPad mini 6

Ipad Mini 6 2021 Lifestyle Gaming

Ipad Mini 6 2021 Lifestyle Gaming (Image credit: Apple)

With the iPad mini 6, gone is the old-school 'forehead and chin' design that housed the Home button and FaceTime camera in favor of an iPad Air 4-inspired redesign.

The screen now takes up more of the device's face with a Liquid Retina display that goes edge-to-edge, adding almost half an inch of additional screen real estate without making the overall footprint any larger. Keeping the portability, for me, is key as I want a device I can comfortably hold for long periods of time.

As well as a better display, the audio experience has been improved with stereo support when used in landscape orientation. This is going to make the iPad mini a great movie-watching device.

On top of that, the iPad mini 6 has had an internal overhaul with a powerful new A15 Bionic chip — the same found in the iPhone 13 — for 40% faster CPU performance and a huge 80% faster GPU performance. It's also got better cameras, including a front-facing camera with Center Stage, making it an excellent FaceTime device.

Though I intend to use the iPad mini 6 as a chill-out device primarily, it's also got USB-C and supports the same Apple Pencil as my iPad Pro so I could feasibly incorporate it into my workflow if I wanted to. For those using the iPad mini alone, these are worthwhile additions that help to future-proof the device.

Price hike

Ipad Mini 6 2021 Lifestyle Apple Pencil

Ipad Mini 6 2021 Lifestyle Apple Pencil (Image credit: Apple)

When looking at the iPad mini 6 versus the iPad mini 5, the only downside is that the starting price has been raised by $100. That's a significant chunk of change and something that might put off a lot of buyers.

At $399, the previous-gen iPad mini was pushing the limits of what people would be willing to pay for a small tablet. However, at $499, Apple is really leaning into this being a niche device for those that really want the most performance in the smallest possible package.

iPad mini 6 is not competing with Amazon's Fire tablets... it's in a class of its own.

iPad mini 6 is not really competing with Amazon's Fire tablets or Samsung's slates, though. However, with the upgrades Apple has given it and the power of iPadOS 15, it's in a class of its own and has firmly solidified its place among the best iPad models available.

It's definitely an expensive tablet, and if the price had stayed at $399, you might have been able to make a better case for its value, but if it's performance per square inch you're after, it's still a top choice and, for me, the best thing to come out of Apple's September event.

Is the iPad mini 6 for you?

Are you ogling the iPad mini 6 or wondering why anyone would spend that amount of money on an 8-inch tablet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Adam Oram

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.