The Case for an iPad mini Pro

Smaller is sometimes much, much better

Key Takeaways

  • Rumors say the next iPad mini will look just like the current iPad mini.
  • An iPad mini Pro could be the ultimate in powerful, pocket-sized computers.
  • Imagine a pocket iPad with an Apple Pencil.
Leaked image of the upcoming iPad mini lined up next to the iPad Air and the iPad Pro

Sonny Dickson

If any iPad deserves the slimmed-down Pro treatment, it’s the iPad mini, Apple’s neglected wonderbox.

The next iPad mini will ship with the same old thick screen bezels and chin-mounted home button as today’s model, according to a photo leaked by Apple blogger Sonny Dickson that may show dummy units of upcoming iPads. And that’s a real shame, because a Pro iPad mini would be awesome. 

"So the 9-year-old iPad mini design will live on?" writes tech YouTuber David Jiang on Twitter. "Would love to see the iPad Pro design on the mini, and I think this outdated design is hard to justify in 2021."

iPad Design Language

The current iPad Pro is two things: Apple’s most capable iPad and the iPad that shows the future of the entire iPad lineup. The squared-off sides and ultra-slim body are significantly different from the old-style iPads. The iPad Air follows this design so closely that it even shares accessories with the Pros. This design language also is used in the iPhone 12. 

It makes sense, then, that eventually all iPads will offer slim screen bezels and use either Face ID or a power-button Touch ID scanner (as in the current iPad Air). If these leaked images are correct, then it looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer for Apple’s new design language to filter down to the low-end models.

There could be good news, though. The iPad mini in Dickson’s leaked photos could just be the old model, included for size comparisons. The mockups don’t look particularly well-finished—the 12.9-inch Pro lacks the rear smart connector, for starters. Or perhaps Apple will keep making the old-style mini and drop a newer Pro model into the mix.

The Perfect Pro

If Apple did make an iPad Pro mini, however, it would be amazing. Imagine an iPad with an A14X chip inside, a chip that’s as powerful as that found in the latest M1 Macs. This iPad could fit in your back pocket and do so with an Apple Pencil attached. It also would be impossibly light. The only downside might be that it would be so easy to forget, sit on, and bend.

If Apple decides to make a Pro mini, then it could go one of two ways with the size. It could shrink the body and keep the screen the same size, or it could enlarge the screen to occupy the space previously used by those oversized bezels and keep the iPad, itself, the same size. 

An iPad mini shown with an Apple Pencil.

Apple

One concern is that a shrinking mini might be shorter than the Apple Pencil that sticks magnetically to its side. This image shows the current mini, alongside the first-gen Apple Pencil. The second Pencil is maybe a half-inch shorter, but you can see the potential problem. Still, when it comes to "mini," small is a good problem to have—although not everybody agrees.

"I find the Air to be the perfect size, small enough to be more portable, large enough to offer a good screen size for that," Andrea Neporu, a technology reporter for Italy’s La Stampa, told Lifewire via Twitter. "Never been a huge fan of the mini form factor, to be honest."

The Mini Notebook

An iPad mini Pro, with an Apple Pencil stuck to its side, and a fast 120Hz ProMotion display to really make it feel responsive and natural, would be an impressive setup. You could just pull out the iPad like a paper notepad and start taking notes or making sketches.

iPads already launch to the Notes app when you tap the Pencil onto the sleeping screen, but that feature would really be at home on a little pocket iPad. Or Pro photographers could use a 1 TB version as a portable storage box for location shoots, complete with a suite of editing tools. 

"I find the Air to be the perfect size, small enough to be more portable, large enough to offer a good screen size..."

In fact, if you don’t need to make phone calls, then a cellular iPad Pro mini could even be a credible alternative to an iPhone, especially since the iPad Pros tend to get decent cameras.

If you’ve never used an iPad mini, you’ll be surprised at just how small and portable it is, and that’s the current model. Shrink it still further, so that the body hugs the screen to its very edges, and give it those easy-to-grip flat sides, and Apple could be onto a surprise winner.

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