It’s been widely said that the unveiling of the Apple iPad Mini 6 was the highlight of Apple’s September event this year and I have to agree. After a lot of thought on the advantages vs the cost, I decided to upgrade my iPad mini to the 2021 model!
Buying a new device is no light decision, so I thought I’d write up a quick post and go through my thinking process a bit on why I decided to upgrade.
This Was The iPad Mini Model I Actually Wanted (And The People Needed)
When I bought my 5th generation iPad Mini back in 2020, what I actually wanted was this refresh which had been rumoured to come (squared off design, bigger screen, USB-C).
However back then the rumours really were just rumours and not something I could pin my hopes on. I wanted an Apple Pencil compatible tablet that I could let customers use without the anxiety or faff of handing them my pro. I thought the iPad mini’s smaller size would give me more options across my devices than getting a larger iPad so with that I settled on the iPad mini 5th generation with Apple Pencil, a smart cover and a few other accessories to improve usability.
The Problem With The iPad Mini 5
The problems i have with my iPad mini 5 are pretty similar to the problems I used to have with my iPad Pro 10.5” before I upgraded it to the 11 inch 2018 model.
Apple Pencil 1
Apple Pencil 1, while all exciting when it was first released, is a pain to use.
Sometimes the Apple Pencil unpairs and it’s a workflow disruption to plug it in and repair. Sometimes I pick up my iPad and go to use the pencil only to find it’s died.
On top of that it’s not magnetic/cannot attach to the iPad making it easier to lose or leave behind.
Now I’ve used the Apple Pencil 2 with my 11 inch iPad Pro, the drawbacks of the original Apple Pencil feel more evident.
Sometimes I wonder if I’d be more on top of charging the Apple Pencil if my iPad mini was my only iPad, but even back when I only had the 10.5” Pro I would often find it was out of charge when I wanted to use it.
(Lack Of) Keyboard
While there are lots of third party keyboard cases, the lack of official keyboard case for the iPad mini can be frustrating. While this is no different for the new iPad mini, the new design and other features make it less of an issue.
So why am I upgrading to the new 6th generation iPad mini? Will it solve my problems?
It seemed bitter sweet that Apple delivered exactly what I wanted a year after I wanted it. They even released one in my favourite colour (purple). My biggest purchase hesitation was the fact I bought the 5th gen model last year and that there was no keyboard, but this is such a big design upgrade it’ll probably be the biggest update to the mini for a while (if you look how long the last mini kept it’s form factor and how the iPad Pro’s hasn’t really changed much since going square in 2018).
So why is the new iPad mini 6th it worth the upgrade?
Apple Pencil 2 Support Improves Usability
As I mentioned the Apple Pencil 1st gen drives me nuts! The charging method, the lack of magnetic connection and even the design of it. The iPad mini upgrading to Apple Pencil 2 means I am more likely to have the pencil with my iPad and more likely to use it. It also makes the device easier to carry around since you can then just hold your iPad since the Apple Pencil is attached.
This is such a seemingly small difference coming from a 5th gen iPad mini, but I think it will enable to me to get more use out of my iPad mini in a wider range of situations than I do now (E.g. I will now likely use the new iPad mini when I start university rather than my iPad Pro. The smaller form factor means I can still take a laptop as well without adding too much weight to my bag).
On top of the standalone benefits of the iPad mini 6 using Apple Pencil 2, it’s also super handy as someone with a second device as it means I can use the same pencil for both.
On a side note I’d love to see Switch Easy come out with a CoverBuddy for the new iPad mini! I have one for my iPad Pro and it’s great for keeping the Apple Pencil in place if my iPad is in a busy bag as well as protecting the back of my iPad Pro when i take it off the magic keyboard. Even with no keyboard, I’d love a CoverBuddy for the new iPad mini.
New Design Looks Fresh And Matches Ecosystem
On a completely non-functional note, I love that Apple have brought their new squared off design to the iPad mini. I think it looks super clean and of course they’ve then added smart folios- finally some back coverage for the mini from Apple.
Aside from the old iPad mini and my iPhone 12 Pro, most of my devices charge with USBC. I also have lots of accessories like USBC hubs and an upgrade to USBC means that I can use these with my iPad mini without extra connection converters. That convenience adds value to me.
Of course there are many other reasons to buy an iPad mini, but these are the ones I thought about.
As for the lack of iPad Mini keyboard…
The lack of official keyboard is disappointing, but understandable considering the market Apple seems to be targeting with the iPad Mini. It’s more of an ultraportable consumption device rather than a productivity tool, but it can be made into one – though I doubt it’ll ever be a laptop replacement for most people.
I love mini computers. I loved Asus’ Eee Pc’s. I loved my 11inch MacBook Air and last year I even bought a second hand 12” MacBook (you know that super thin ultraportable laptop they randomly made then stopped in 2017?).
I would love it if the iPad mini 6 came with a keyboard, but I might hate it too. Last year I got super excited that Apple were releasing the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, only to be disappointed that it made my ultraportable tablet/half computer even heavier than my MacBook. On top of that I wasn’t too keen on the design in general as I find it horrible to use on my lap. I know the design has to be weighted a certain way, but I don’t think it makes sense to go through shrinking that down to the iPad mini- especially given the price point I assume it’d be set at.
On the other hand, a smart keyboard folio for the iPad mini 6 would have been nice. Then again I think I’d just wind up wishing it had a trackpad. It would be nice to have the option, but since there’s no official keyboard for the new iPad mini 6 it’s something that must be overcome.
How I Plan To Overcome This
Third Party Standalone Keyboard OR Third Party Keyboard Case– I’m sure someone with make a iPad Mini 6 keyboard case. I personally want this to be as lightweight and portable as possible to not lose the USP of the device. Until then I can use something like Logitech’s Keys To Go and stand the iPad using its Smart Folio.
Improve Use Of On Screen Keyboard – Portrait mode is great for big phone like quick text input, landscape mode laid flat with two hands can be more comfortable for longer text input, and minimising the keyboard and making it float around the screen is great for one handed iPad mini use!
Use conveniently placed Apple Pencil and Scribble – When I’m already using the Apple Pencil to take study notes or draw, I can use scribble for quick and seamless text input
So what iPad mini did I get?
I was torn between the options, but in the end I went for:
iPad Mini 6th Generation
Space Grey – I did ponder purple, but I felt like Space Grey would be more futureproof and likely to go with more accessories. Plus I didn’t want to get purple and not like the shade when I saw it in person.
64GB – I did think about going with 256GB (my iPad Pro is 256GB), but my old iPad mini is 64GB and still has plenty of space. Considering this and that I have a computer for hardcore work as well as paid iCloud storage I didn’t think it was worth the upgrade this time. The money would be spent with good intentions for the future, but the space never actually used (as I feel is often the case with my iPads)
Wifi + Cellular – This is my first time getting a cellular iPad and I spent a while thinking about it. Although there is wifi in many public places now and my phone contract allows tethering, I am a sucker for convenience and continuity. My iPhone battery is precious to me on a day out, so if I’m without wifi or not at a place long enough to bother asking the password then I still want to be able to use my iPad as I need to. I already have two sims, so it’s just a case of choosing a new plan for one of them for me.
This is not a necessary upgrade by any means, but I believe it’ll be a useful one in the long run since it’ll enable me to make my mini my main iPad. Plus you know what they say, treat yourself!
This release came at the perfect time too- I start Uni later this month and I had just verified my student discount for Apple! I hope to do an update once I’ve used it and I’ll let you know what I think and whether I’d recommend it for other students.
What I’m Doing With My Old iPad Mini
I’ve only had my iPad mini a year and it’s in great condition. I’ve accumulated a lot of accessories trying to get around the iPad mini 5’s downfalls, so I’m hoping to sell them all in a bundle to someone who can make good use of them.
Here’s a quick photo of my old iPad mini and some of the accessories that I’ve accumulated to bundle in with it!
iPad Mini 2019 (5th Generation)
- Apple Pencil 1
- Apple Smart Cover (Charcoal)
- PaperLike Screen Protector For iPad Mini
- Cheap Lightweight Case – Cut to fit with the smart cover as well as adding an adhesive little strap thing for secure one handed holding)
- Rubber Tips For Apple Pencil – For when the pencil is dead and I need stylus like input without waiting for it to charge
- Magnetic Apple Pencil Case – Enables the Apple Pencil to stick to the Smart Cover edges
My Personal iPad Mini Use Case:
Honestly my use case has changed a bit recently and will continue to. Now I’m going to university upgrading my iPad mini when I have a Pro seems less crazy. Plus if I’m going to be creating content again the 6 can help me with that without the bulk of a full sized iPad or laptop (I like to carry as little as possible). I plan to use this mostly to take notes/highlight things as I study, consume content in my downtime and boost everyday productivity when I’m on the go (I only take my iPad Pro if I think I might need it, whereas the new mini would be a handbag staple).
Well now you know what matters to me, what matters to you? Will you be getting the new iPad Mini?