Despite its outdated design, the iPad mini (2019) was still really my favorite tablet. That while, in the meantime, I could also really enjoy the iPad Air from 2020. The only thing that disappointed me about this tablet was its size and in that respect, the iPad mini (2021) is coming along nicely.
So it should be clear that I am excited about the arrival of this new iPad mini (2021). But is that enthusiasm really justified? I have been working with the tablet for the past 13 days and give you the answer in this review.
iPad mini (2021): what does the tablet have to offer you?
The iPad mini (2021) has been given a completely new look. Not only on the outside, but certainly on the inside as well. To give you a good impression of what the tablet exactly has to offer, I put the main specifications in a row for you:
Display: 8.3-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD
Processor: Apple A15 Bionic
Working Memory: 4GB
Storage Capacity: 64GB / 256GB
Battery: 19.3wh Li-ION
Camera system: 12 megapixel Wide lens (f/1.8)
Selfie camera: 12 megapixel ultra-wide camera (f/2.4)
Software: iPadOS 15
Weight: 293 grams (Wi-Fi) / 297 grams (LTE)
Dimensions: 195.4mm x 134.8mm x 6.3mm
Color Options: Space gray, Pink, Purple and Starlight
The iPad mini (2021) can be purchased from $556. For that price, you get the new tablet with 64GB of storage. If you want more, you can opt for the 256GB model at €729.
An updated design (Image: Mark Hofman / OMT)
iPad mini (2021): 5 things that are new
Unlike its predecessor, quite a few things have changed about the iPad mini (2021). That’s why I’m listing the biggest improvements and changes for you:
#1 Finally, a new design
You’ve probably already seen and heard: the iPad mini (2021) has a new design. Considering the 2019 model was already outdated, this certainly wasn’t a bad decision. In terms of design, the tablet is more in line with models like the iPad Air (2020), iPad Pro (2021) and the iPhone 13 series. Not only a more angular design, but also more color options, in other words.
#2 Better display
In addition to the design, the display of the iPad mini (2021) has also been taken in hand. As a result, the screen is not 7.9-inch in size, but 8.3-inch. That is a significant improvement, especially when you put the specifications next to it. The screen has a brightness of 500 nits, it supports True Tone and uses a wide color gamut.
Screen edges as thick as on the Air (Image: Mark Hofman / OMT)
#3 More powerful than the iPad Air (2020)
It’s pretty funny to see Apple dodge the question, but the iPad mini (2021) is indeed more powerful than the 2020 iPad Air. This is mainly due to the fact that this model features Apple’s new A15 Bionic chip. Although we are dealing with a device that is slightly more scaled back in terms of performance than, say, the iPhone.
#4 Improved camera system
The iPad mini (2021) is the first mini tablet to feature what is known as a camera bump. This simply means that the system sticks out a little. Not bad, because you get a slightly better camera system in return. Although the biggest change is mainly in the selfie camera. This time, the iPad mini uses a 12 megapixels ultra-wide camera with a viewing angle of 122 degrees. Enough to make the Center Stage functionality possible.
#5 New connection
It took a while, but Apple is also finally bringing USB-C to the iPad mini in 2021. So the tablet is abandoning the Lighting Port and making the switch. That’s nice, because in addition to faster charging times, consumers will now have the chance to use their USB-C accessories on this model.
Compared to the regular iPad (Image: Mark Hofman / OMT)
iPad mini (2021): the ideal tablet ‘for me’
The iPad mini (2021) has to rely mainly on its size. Because of its size and weight, it remains the ideal tablet on the go. You take it with you very easily and therefore this is immediately the ideal tablet for me. Now I understand that you may not have anything to do with it, but it says a lot about this model.
The compact design makes this the ideal model for playing games and reading content. Bigger than an iPhone and smaller than a regular tablet: that’s exactly what I like about it. Watching movies and series is also excellent, although the compact design makes it a bit less attractive. Not a problem for me, as I don’t normally do this either.
So I use the iPad mini (2021) mainly as an extension of my iPhone 13 and that means the battery life is more than adequate for me. By the way, it’s good to know that the battery doesn’t last as long as larger tablets, but it manages to outlast the iPhone. A day or two is easily manageable with the iPad mini (2021) and that’s very nice. As is the Apple Pencil 2 support, by the way.
It did take me a while to appreciate that addition. As with the rest of the model, you have to look at this part differently than other tablets. Yes, it’s irritating to use the iPad mini (2021) with the Apple Pencil 2 attached. But it’s ideal to keep the pen in your hand and use it when needed. So I take it off while using it, hold it in my hand, and then stick it back on to charge it.
So all of that is exactly why the iPad mini (2021) is the ideal tablet for me. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you. After all, the format has to really suit you to appreciate it. So if the above doesn’t appeal to you very much, then you may be looking for something else when we talk about “the ideal tablet”.
He’s looking nice! (Image: Mark Hofman / OMT)
iPad mini (2021): not used to it from Apple
Unfortunately, not everything is entirely personal and there are things that, almost, everyone will notice. Starting with the operating system: iPadOS 15. I’ve never seen it before at Apple, but I’m getting a bit of a sense that the company itself isn’t ready for the iPad mini (2021). In fact, the software doesn’t pick up as nicely as I’m used to.
For one thing, that has to do with the fact that widgets are smaller. In comparison with other iPad models this is logical, in comparison with the iPhone it is very noticeable. A shame, because I notice that I use them little or not at all because of this. The iPad mini (2021) also suffers from an oversized keyboard in landscape mode, which makes it take up more than half of your tablet.
Maybe logical, but somewhere also something I’m not used to from Apple. Like the fact that your Apple Pencil is thicker than your iPad mini (2021). It makes a very small difference, but the stylus is physically slightly thicker. Oh, and why are the volume buttons not on the left side, but on top of the tablet?
By the way, Apple has provided the iPad mini (2021) with a new screen. Very nice, but this screen does have one problem: Jelly scrolling. This is the name for situations where scrolling on a screen is not quite flawless. The right side moves a little faster than the left and that creates a weird effect. Not visible to everyone, but very irritating if you do see it. If you normally notice this kind of thing, then you should take it into account.
And speaking of bill, it’s pretty high. Accessibility is something that has made the mini a success in the past, and unfortunately little of that has remained financially. Especially when you want to make do with more than 64GB of storage. A step up implies a storage capacity of 256GB and with it immediately a price increase of €173. Whew!
Apple Pencil thicker than the tablet (Image: Mark Hofman / OMT)
iPad mini (2021): small in size, big in performance
It should be obvious: where the iPad mini (2021) is small in size, it remains big in performance. The tablet boasts a delightfully compact model, which means you can really use it with ease anywhere. Playing a game, making a quick note or reading a book: it’s all possible.
For me, all of this makes the iPad mini (2021) the ideal tablet, but that doesn’t have to apply to you. In fact, it is completely understandable if this is not what you are looking for. Especially not for the price tag of $529. So you really have to be looking for this product to really appreciate it. So if you are looking for something in between an iPhone and an iPad, the mini (2021) is the Apple product for you.