Executive Editor, MacworldSEP 14, 2021 11:19 am PDT
Apple unveiled a new iPad mini at its California Streaming event that dramatically overhauls its tiniest tablet with a new display, design, and processor.
It starts with the design. The new iPad mini has adopted Apple’s “all-screen” design in the iPad Air and iPad Pro. By eliminating the bezels and the home button, Apple has upped the display size to 8.3-inches with wide color, True Tone, and 500 nits of brightness.
The iPad mini still has Touch ID, but like the iPad Air, it’s now built into the power button on the top edge, which is also where you’ll find the volume buttons. And instead of a Lightning port, you’ll now get USB-C for faster connectivity with accessories such as cameras and drives.
The processor gets a boost as well. While the previous iPad mini was hardly slow with an A12 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini has the same A15 Bionic that you’ll get in the iPhone 13. Apple says it delivers a 40 percent jump in CPU performance and an 80 percent GPU boost over the prior model. It also supports 5G for the first time.
The camera is better, too. Around the back, you’ll get a 12MP sensor with a larger aperture and True Tone flash for improved low-light photos. Apple also says the image signal processor in the A15 Bionic “improves image quality by recovering details in shadows and highlights” thanks to Smart HDR.
Like the iPad Pro and new ninth-generation iPad, the mini also has an updated ultra-wide 12MP front camera that supports Center Stage. A feature of iOS 15, Center Stage follows users around as they walk in and out of the frame so they’re always in view. When on a video call in FaceTime or other video apps, the iPad mini’s front camera will pan and scan so you won’t need to constantly rotate your iPad.
The iPad mini supports the second-generation Apple Pencil that connects magnetically to the side of the tablet as well as a new line of slim Smart Folio covers in a variety of colors: black, white, English lavender, dark cherry, and electric orange.
All that newness comes at a higher price tag as well: $499 versus $399 for the prior model. You can preorder the iPad mini beginning today in four colors: purple, pink, starlight, and space gray. The new iPad mini will begin shipping on September 24.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.