iPad mini review: Apple’s smallest tablet gets its biggest upgrade

iPad mini review: Apple's smallest tablet gets its biggest upgrade


Apple iPad mini review

Apple iPad mini review (Image: APPLE)

It's been a quiet few years for iPad mini fans. The smallest tablet in the iPad line-up hasn't had a design refresh since the first model launched back in 2013. But that's all changed in 2021 as Apple has revealed an almighty update with faster brains, improved cameras, support to scrawl on the screen with the latest second-generation Apple Pencil. And that's not even the best part.

Apple iPad mini review

The new iPad mini has been completely overhauled with a new look (Image: APPLE)

Just like the iPad Air last year, the all-new iPad mini enjoys a new all-screen design that pushes the display to the very edge of the aluminium chassis. To make room for all that extra screen, Apple has ditched the iconic Home Button from the front of the tablet.

Combined with a series of fun new colours to choose from, the iPad mini appears to be back with a bang. But the big question is, should you splash out and buy one?

Express.co.uk has been testing out the iPad mini for the past week and the answer is a resounding YES!

Straight out of the box, the iPad mini's new design looks truly fabulous and it's tough not to fall immediately in love. The new pastel colours, similar to the shades we've seen on the all-new iMac and iPad Air designs, bring the new aluminium case up to date and that edge-to-edge design means you now get a bigger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina screen without the overall size of the tablet increasing.

To show what a difference those chunky old bezels made, the previous iPad mini only managed to squeeze a 7.9-inch screen into the same footprint. So, you don't need to worry about the iPad mini losing its “mini” status despite the expansive new screen. Of course, those who are unsure whether they want a smaller tablet should probably head into an Apple Store to compare the 8.3-inch iPad mini with the 10.9-inch iPad Air and 10.2-inch iPad to check whether they'd prefer more space for multi-tasking with apps and bingeing boxsets on-the-move.

The new Liquid Retina panel also continues to enjoy Apple's True Tone system, which adapts the colour temperature on-screen to match the lighting around you. There's also now an all-important anti-reflective coating to make content easier to watch outdoors in bright sunlight.

These are all brilliant upgrades, although it's worth noting that the Liquid Retina display on the iPad mini isn't quite up to scratch compared to the stunning mini-LED backlit Liquid Retina XDR display on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, or the gorgeous OLED panels on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.

Under the bonnet of the iPad mini, you'll find the latest A15 Bionic processor, which makes this tablet over 40 percent faster than its predecessor. There's also a new 5-core graphics engine that delivers an 80 percent increase in performance when editing photos and playing games on this palm-sized machine.

Apple iPad mini review

The Touch ID scanner sits on the top of the new iPad mini (Image: APPLE)

It's impressive stuff with this tablet now packing a more powerful chip than the costlier iPad Air!

You're honestly not going to find anything this device can't cope with and the A15 Bionic's efficiency also means battery life stays competitive. We found that you'll get around 10-hours on a single charge, which is more than enough for that upcoming long-haul flight when we all get travelling again.

Other features worth a mention include a fast Touch ID fingerprint scanner, which sits inside the power button on the top of the tablet and unlocks the screen in a flash. The iPad mini switches from Apple's own Lighting connection to USB-C, which makes file transfers from accessories such as cameras faster than before. It also means you can recharge the iPad mini with the same charging cable as you'll use for your MacBook Air, Nintendo Switch, and flagship Android phone. Annoyingly, your iPhone and AirPods will still the older Lighting cable… so you'll need to pack both if you're planning a trip away.

You can also buy the mini with 5G connectivity. This new network tech allows you to stream movies and shows at speeds in excess of 300Mbps – that's around 5 times than the average UK broadband can muster.

Apple iPad mini review

Apple iPad mini review (Image: APPLE)

Finally, if you love snapping photos and movies on your tablet you'll find the mini has an upgraded camera that can shoot in 4K and produce sharper photos. The front-facing selfie snapper also features Apple's clever “Center Stage” technology, which uses AI to follow your face as you move around the room. This basically means you always stay in shot when making FaceTime calls.

Those are all the best features coming to the new iPad mini, but is there anything wrong with it?

In our time with the new tablet, we have come across a couple of niggles, including the fact there's no wireless charging. The iPad mini's size would have made it perfect to take advantage Apple's amazing new MagSafe technology. But unfortunately, this system – that uses magnets to make sure your wireless charger never slips out of place – doesn't feature on this new iPad mini nor any other Apple tablet for that matter.

The volume buttons have also been placed on the top of the tablet to leave enough room for the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil to snap to the side for a recharge, which makes sense but does mean they're a little awkward to tap especially when holding the iPad mini in portrait mode.

Apple iPad mini review

The iPad mini gets the latest A15 Bionic processor (Image: APPLE)

Another slight annoyance is that Apple is only releasing 64GB and 256GB storage options with the new iPad mini. The latest iPhone models all arrive with a minimum of 128GB, which is about right for any device that can shoot 4K video, so it's a real shame the iPad mini hasn't followed with a similar upgrade to its storage. If you're thinking about buying an iPad mini, you're probably going to have to stump up the extra to move to 256GB.

Finally, there's the price as the new mini isn't exactly cheap. The entry-level model costs £479 and this rises to a whopping £749 if you opt for the 5G model with 256GB of storage. That's before you've added a case for £59 or £119 Apple Pencil. Ouch.

Apple iPad mini review

The iPad mini now comes in a number of colours (Image: APPLE)

Apple iPad mini review: Verdict

PROS – Great design • Stunning 8.2-inch screen • Support for new Apple Pencil • A15 Bionic is a powerhouse
CONS – Can get expensive • No MagSafe compatibility • Starts with a measly 64GB of storage

iPad mini is back with one almighty – and long overdue – upgrade. If you love your current iPad mini, prepare to be wowed by the all-new design.

There's no denying that this new tablet looks absolutely sensational and it's exactly what many mini fans have been waiting for. The bigger screen, new colours, and faster processor make this a huge upgrade over its predecessor and we can see it flying off shelves when it launches.

There are some minor niggles, including no MagSafe wireless charging compatibility and that steep price tag. It's also worth noting that Apple hasn't released a Magic Keyboard accessory for the new iPad mini so, unlike the Pro models, you can't turn it into a mini laptop.

That said, we've been left pretty smitten with the new iPad mini and if you want a tiny tablet in your life you won't find anything better.



Written by David Minister

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