Apple’s next iPad mini might match the iPad Air’s performance and have USB-C connectivity, placing the smallest iPad into the mid-range category.
Apple is expected to release a new iPad mini this year and the latest report points to some interesting details about the upgrades and even some specifications. Among the most interesting is the possibility that the sixth-generation iPad mini could use the same processor as the upcoming iPhone 13, which would offer a big increase in performance for Apple’s smallest tablet. Also revealed is a potential switch to a USB-C port.
Apple initially made only one size of its iconic iPad tablet when it launched in 2010, a thin but large slate with a diagonal screen measurement of 10.1 inches. Two years later, the iPad mini, much smaller and lighter with its 7.9-inch display, was released, offering an alternative to the growing number of low-cost 7-inch Android tablets. Of course, Apple went on to create many more variations, currently offering five sizes from the fifth-generation iPad mini, which retains the same screen size as the original, to the iPad Pro 12.9-inch.
9to5 Mac shared information gathered from an unnamed source that indicates the new iPad mini might use an A15 processor, which is the anticipated name of a system-on-a-chip (SoC) that is expected to power the next iPhone. If true, this will be a huge upgrade over the iPad mini 5, which uses an A12. Leaping ahead three generations would be somewhat unexpected, however, Apple has made some surprising announcements and taken big leaps with its products during the last year. For example, the 2020 iPad Air’s A14 SoC ran neck-and-neck with the 2020 iPad Pro’s A12Z for several months before the latest iPad Pro pulled ahead with the M1 SoC, the same chip used in Mac computers. This kind of shake-up lends credibility to a much more powerful iPad mini and will be a welcome change since Apple’s littlest tablet hasn’t been updated since 2019.
More IPad Mini Details
Another detail shared by 9to5 Mac suggests that Apple will swap the Lightning port of the current iPad mini for a USB-C port, which would offer greater compatibility with other devices and peripherals, and a magnetic Smart Connector. Apple uses this magnetic connection to hold its external, folding keyboard in place and to facilitate quick pairing. With an A15 chip and a USB-C, the iPad mini might belong closer to the mid-range iPad Air in terms of specifications, whereas it has had more in common with the budget iPad in the past.
Most of these rumors sound reasonable, but the detail about a Smart Connector, implying a mini keyboard to match the small tablet size seems less likely. With dimensions of 8 inches by 5.3 inches, a matching keyboard cover might make typing uncomfortable and errors more likely. That said, tiny keyboards do exist and some users are likely to be quite satisfied with them. Regardless of what the final specifications are, a new iPad mini is overdue and one with a serious performance jump would be something to look forward to.