Why the iPad Mini 6 Is the (Almost) Perfect iPad

Small is beautiful

Key Takeaways

  • The M1 Macs make the iPads Pro less appealing.
  • The iPad mini's the perfect 'car' to the Mac's 'truck.'
  • The iPad mini is a perfect combination of size and power.
Closeup on an iPad mini camera and Apple Pencil.

James Yarema / Unsplash

The iPad mini 6 isn't the most powerful iPad, it doesn't have the best display, and its screen can be a little cramped at times, but it might just be the perfect iPad for most people. 

The iPad Pro can easily be somebody's primary, or only, computer. Paired with the Magic Keyboard case with its trackpad, the 12.9-inch iPad is a credible laptop replacement. But that combination costs $1,448 minimum and weighs in at over three pounds. The M1 MacBook Air is just $999, weighs 2.8 lbs, and offers a lot more power and flexibility in its software. Even though the iPad Pro is way better than the MacBook Air in hardware terms, macOS is still way superior to iPadOS—and I say that as someone who used the iPad as his only work computer for years. 

But the iPad mini is the perfect iPad for somebody who already has a Mac.

"The iPad Mini 6 is almost the size of a regular notebook, something we are much used to, so it's an ideal size for the Apple Pencil as well," tech blogger Aseem Kishore told Lifewire via email.

The Mac Is Back

For years, the iPad Pro was far superior to the Mac. It had a better screen, it had touch, could use a Pencil, and had instant wake and battery life for days. The latest M1 MacBooks Air and Pro still lag on touch (and cameras), but they are equal to the iPad in every other regard. 

"The smaller screen of the iPad Mini can give artists the same capabilities of a bigger iPad, while also giving them more options for portability."

The MacBook Pro, then, is now a much more enticing option. It doesn’t get hot, its fan doesn’t spin up whenever you use it. In short, it feels like an iOS device with the power of the Mac, which puts the iPad Pro in an awkward position. It’s big and heavy, but it can’t do what the Mac does.

Spending close to $2k on an iPad Pro rig seems like a waste when you can have an Apple Silicon Mac for much less.

Smaller is Better

But the iPad mini embraces its portability. It can fit in a (big) pocket. It doesn't have Face ID, but as it's always in your hand, it doesn't need it. It's only USB 2.0 (yes, despite the USB-C port), but that's fine because it's unlikely to sit in the middle of a desktop setup.

In terms of power, though, the mini is very capable. It uses the latest A15 chip, on which the M1 Macs are based, and it works with the magnetic Apple Pencil 2. It has good cameras, including video stabilization. It has Center Stage for FaceTime, stereo speakers, 5G cellular, and so on. The mini is currently one of the most advanced iPads available. 

But none of that tells you just how good it is to use. You can fit it one hand, and because of that, it's way easier to grab and use. I have had an Apple Pencil for years, but I rarely use it. On the mini, I have it permanently attached. You can tap it on the sleeping iPad screen and start doodling or writing, so it's as fast as a paper notebook.

An iPhone on top of an iPad mini to show the size difference.

Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash

"Many artists want to be able to pick up their iPads and draw from a coffee shop, a hotel room, or even a campsite," art blogger Diana Fitts told Lifewire via email. "The on-the-go nature of digital art is a big benefit. The smaller screen of the iPad Mini can give artists the same capabilities of a bigger iPad, while also giving them more options for portability."

Scribble, Apple's feature that turns your handwriting into typed text, anywhere on the iPad, makes way more sense on the mini, if only because the on-screen keyboard takes up so much space. It obscures almost two-thirds of the screen in landscape. 

It's easy to grab and read. It can fit on your nightstand. It can go anywhere with you. The regular-sized iPad and iPad Air are compromises, neither portable enough nor big enough. The mini embraces its size and becomes the perfect companion for an M1 Mac or MacBook Pro. 

Missing In Action

Not everything is perfect. The iPad mini lacks Face ID, Pro Motion, USB 3.1, a miniLED or OLED screen, and the screen bezels are still a bit too big next to that tiny screen. And for people with failing vision, the Home Screen text is tiny (although the in-app text is easy to adjust to fit your own eyes).

There’s room for improvement. An iPad Pro mini would be an amazing machine. But right now, this little machine is a beast. It might be my favorite iPad yet.

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