I've been a mobile gaming fan since I got the original Game Boy in the mid-90s. The ability to play games anywhere — or as long as those four AA batteries had juice — was a game-changer for me as a young kid and the industry as a whole. Of course, fast forward to 2021, and mobile gaming has primarily been taken over by phones and tablets.
I've always had at least a few games on my iPhone, but only in the last few years has the hardware and software has caught up to my wants and needs as a gamer, which has caused me to download far more games on my devices. So much so that I got an iPad mini 6 a few weeks ago, and it has quickly become my favorite device to game on. Not only is it the best iPad for gaming, but it's everything I want in a mobile gaming device.
Compact and powerful
Let's start with the obvious: When it comes to mobile gaming, being mobile is an essential part of the experience, and there is no more mobile tablet than the iPad mini 6. It's incredibly light, and the beautiful display (although not OLED) still looks excellent in most conditions. It's so easy to pop the iPad mini 6 in your knapsack, purse, or even a larger pants pocket and have access to all of Apple Arcade and any other games you've downloaded via the App Store.
To top of its compact design, the A15 Bionic chip that powers it all does a ton of heavy lifting, making gaming experiences smooth. In fact, plently of Apple Arcade titles can reach the iPad Mini 6's max 60hz refresh rate and stay there with no issues. It can even run full-fledged games like Divinity Original Sin II with no hiccups at all.
Lots of ways to play
Ever since the Nintendo Switch launched years ago, the idea of the hybrid console that can be played multiple ways has come to the forefront. You might say that Nintendo is leading the pack when it comes to offering some unique gaming experiences, but I would argue that the iPad mini 6 gives it a run for its money.
Of course, you can simply play games on your iPad as a handheld, but because of AirPlay, your Mac, TV, or other AirPlay display can also serve as a way to game on your iPad. This flexibility is super appreciated because it makes gaming on your iPad feel much grander when you want it to. For example, if you're playing an epic adventure game, you can easily play on a much larger screen to make the adventure come to life even more.
On top of that, the iPad mini 6 excels at offering different ways to game when it comes to inputs. Of course, any iPad game — Apple Arcade or not — can be played without additional accessories, just using touch controls. However, with the wide variety of game controllers compatible with the iPad mini, it's easy to have a more traditional console-style controller at your disposal.
The Apple Pencil 2 also offers a unique way to enjoy games on the iPad mini. I find it's an excellent tool for puzzle games or games that require any drawing or line making. It's fantastic to play an Apple Arcade title like tint. — where you have to draw lines with paint — with an actual device that is meant for drawing. Plus, for other games like point-and-click adventures, having the ability to tap the screen precisely is a huge benefit.
The game library has never been bigger
Not only is mobile gaming pretty accessible, but the number of games and the types of games offered also seem to be increasing with each passing year. My library of games on the iPad mini is triple the games I have bought and downloaded onto my consoles. Apple Arcade is a huge help with that, offering a library of well over a hundred premium games, but services like xCloud have helped the iPad break into the worlds of AAA games like never before.
If you set up xCloud on your iPad — or any other cloud gaming service — your iPad mini can become a portable console, playing some of the best games from big studios that have come out recently. Cloud gaming has blown the roof off of what's possible on iPads, making them even more versatile and having access to even more games.
Mobile gaming isn't going anywhere, and it's getting better
The fact of the matter is that mobile gaming is a huge and very profitable industry, and while there are many annoying things in mobile games — like pay-to-win mechanics — there are a ton of great mobile games that avoid all that nonsense. Mobile gaming keeps getting better.
With iPads and other mobile devices getting more powerful each year, developers are taking notice. Big games from big studios are developing gorgeous games that have advanced textures and much more fluid graphics on devices like the iPad. Games like NBA 2K21 on Apple Arcade look and feel amazing on the iPad mini 6, and it's so close to a console experience it's downright magical.
While console gaming isn't going anywhere, it's clear that mobile gaming is a massive part of the industry, so much so that I wouldn't put it past Apple to be working on an iPad that is focused on gaming. Perhaps with even more power and better ways of dealing with heat, to really push those great Apple chips to the max. But, until then, the iPad mini 6 is a great gaming device on top of being a fantastic tablet, and that's a combination that's a real winner in my book.
The compact and powerful iPad mini 6 is a great device for gaming. Whether you're working through your favorite premium games, the newest entry into Apple Arcade, or you're using a cloud gaming service; its portability can't be beaten. Plus, by connecting a controller and using AirPlay, you can easily give yourself a much more console-like experience.
Master your iPhone in minutes
iMore offers spot-on advice and guidance from our team of experts, with decades of Apple device experience to lean on. Learn more with iMore!
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.