Rumors have been flying that Apple might be launching an update to the iPad mini in 2021 and it looks to be a significant upgrade if these suggestions prove to be true. It has been quite a while since the last release of Apple’s smallest tablet, so it does seem due for a new generation to bring its specifications in line with the other iPad models. However, the rumors suggest a complete redesign is coming.
Apple sells five sizes of its industry-leading tablet. The iPad 8 was released in 2020 and is the least expensive, built using a chip and components that powered the flagships of previous generations. The iPad mini 5 is the smallest of all, made in 2019, using the same chip processor as the iPad 8. The iPad Air 4 is quite a leap in terms of performance and technology, and matching many characteristics of the top-of-the-line iPad Pro. Apple makes two sizes of the iPad Pro, 11-inch and 12.9-inch, each using the same processor as its new Mac computers. Out of these tablets, the iPad mini is most in need of an update.
The latest news about the upcoming iPad mini 6 came via a Tweet from supply chain consultant, Ross Young, who has expertise in display technology, refuting earlier claims by supply chain news source, DigiTimes. Young indicates the new iPad mini will not include a mini-LED screen, stating that this information has been confirmed by the supposed mini-LED supplier. Currently, the only iPad with mini-LED technology is the largest tablet Apple makes, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch. Apple has described in interviews that shrinking the technology to fit 10,000 LEDs into such a thin device was a huge challenge. Given the price point of the iPad mini to date, an upgrade like this seems unlikely and Young’s statement feels most accurate.
IPad Mini 6 Home Button, Performance & More
Most agree that the next iPad mini will not have a Home button, leaving more room for a larger screen, climbing from the current 7.9-inch display to as high as 8.7 inches. The iconic Home button has slowly been removed from more and more Apple devices, starting with the iPhone. The iPad mini should have been second in line, due to its small screen but perhaps this will be its year. Since this is the current location of Touch ID, the new iPad mini 6 might see it moved to the power button, as it is with the iPad Air 4. Earlier rumors have pointed to the iPad mini 6 featuring an A15 processor, the chip expected to power the iPhone 13. This would be a massive performance update and might be a stretch for what has so far been Apple’s second most affordable tablet. The iPad Air 4, however, did match the iPhone 12 in speed, both containing an A14 chip. Apple has been pushing the limit with its technology in the last year, so the top mobile processor might make it to the smallest tablet.
A related rumor suggests Apple will also switch from a Lightning connector to a USB-C connector, presumably adopting the flat-edged design of the iPad Pro and newest iPad Air. There have been some suggestions that seem a bit far-fetched, such as whether the iPad mini 6 will have a keyboard connector. Given the small size, a keyboard cover would be quite cramped for typing. It has been done before by other tech companies but it seems unlikely that Apple would pursue this. Finally, a rumor about a shorter Apple Pencil that would work with the iPad mini was mentioned. Given the potential for so many big updates coming to the smallest iPad, there is a possibility of an increase in pricing. It is currently just $70 more than the iPad 8 at $399 but could climb to $499 or higher. The new iPad mini 6 is expected to arrive in September, so all will be revealed by Apple soon enough.