We tested the small tablet from Apple, here are our impressions.
Honey, I shrunk the iPad Air
Like the classic iPad, the iPad mini had only benefited from minor hardware updates in recent years, without changing the chassis. This year, Apple fortunately had more ambition. To standardize its range from an aesthetic point of view, the brand has completely redesigned its miniature iPad to make it adopt the features of the new iPad Air, launched at the end of last year. In terms of design, the relationship between the two devices is such that we have the impression that the iPad Air has simply been shrunk from 10.9 to 8.3 inches.
With this format, the new iPad mini has the luxury of being held in the hand and can fit into the inside pocket of a jacket (for example). It is therefore very pleasant to use on the move, on the train or on the plane. For the rest, we find the science of assembly that we know at Apple. The device benefits from a simply flawless finish. It also inherits the elegance and sobriety of the latest iPad designed by Apple.
Compared to theiPad mini 5, the iPad mini 6 swaps the good old Lightning port for a USB-C input and sacrifices its 3.5 mm jack. To connect a headset to Apple’s compact slate, you will therefore have to buy an adapter separately (sold for 10 euros at Apple) or switch to bluetooth headphones. It is in a way the price of progress, we are unfortunately starting to get used to it.
Another change, a little disconcerting at first, Apple has chosen to move the volume keys to place them on the upper left edge of its new tablet. Until now, they were placed perpendicular to the lock button. As on the iPad Air 2020, this button incorporates a fingerprint sensor that is used for Touch ID. A practical solution. This eliminates the traditional Home key to plane the edges of the screen as much as possible. A decision that allows the iPad mini to extend its display surface (8.3 inches this year against 7.9 inches previously) without losing in compactness (134.8 x 195.4 x 6.3 mm for 297 grams here, against 134.8 x 203.2 x 6.1 mm for 308.2 grams with the iPad mini 5).
On the software side, iPadOS 15 is ready to operate from the initial start-up. Enriched, the Apple OS benefits this year from refined multitasking functions, but it also democratizes the use of widgets, among others. However, owning other Apple devices and accessories is still a plus to enjoy iPadOS 15 in the best possible way..
A small convincing slab (at least with the naked eye)
For its iPad mini 6, Apple makes the choice a “Liquid Retina” IPS panel. On an 8.3 inch diagonal, this LCD panel displays 2266 x 1488 pixels for a display fineness reaching 326 pixels per inch (ppi). The pixel density is therefore excellent on the new iPad mini. Apple announces the rest a maximum luminance of 500 nits. Armed with our probe and Calman measurement software, we wanted to see what it was all about.
For our part, we noted a peak brightness of 408.9 nits. We are therefore well below what Apple promises, but the screen remains very bright. Sufficient in any case for everyday use. In terms of colorimetry, our tools have measured a DeltaE of 6.2 and a temperature of 5797 Kelvin. Perfectible values: in a perfect world the DeltaE should be equal to or less than 2 to render truly faithful colors, and the screen temperature should normally approach 6500 Kelvin of the video standard. Clearly, we are here confronted with a screen with colors that are too warm and generally not very faithful.
The sRGB and DCI-P3 color spaces are covered up to 97.1% and 77.2%, respectively. It’s honest without being overwhelming. The contrast is finally limited to a somewhat low ratio of 1162: 1.
Overall we are therefore dealing with a panel that would have deserved better contrast and especially a more careful calibration. However, the display quality remains excellent in use. The vast majority of users will see nothing but fire. Note on the other hand that some users have noticed a vertical scrolling problem on the screen of the iPad mini 6, causing a “tear” of the image. We did not experience this issue on our test unit at all.
The A15 chip unleashed … but not as much as on the iPhone 13
One of the great novelties of the iPad mini 6 is to integrate the all new chip A15 Bionic, engraved again in 5 nm by TSMC. Developed by Apple for the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro, it is quite simply the most powerful smartphone processor on the market to date. With it, the iPad mini 6 is a real reservoir of raw performance.
That being said, this A15 Bionic chip is a little less efficient on the iPad mini 6 than on the iPhone 13. The fault, obviously, to slightly more modest frequencies. The thing is especially noticeable in the benchmarks (9521 points for the A15 of our iPad mini 6, against a little more than 11,600 points for the A15 of an iPhone 13 Pro Max), but the average user will probably not be impacted. For all uses, the iPad mini 6 is indeed very effective. The A15, even slightly under-clocked, allows flawless responsiveness to the slate, but will also know how to ensure an excellent level of performance over the long term. It is also very effective in-game, including on greedy 3D titles..
The day on battery
Like the iPad mini 5, the iPad mini 6 remains stuck at around 10 hours of versatile use. The progress between the two tablets is practically zero, but this autonomy remains quite honest, all the more so given the compactness of the device (which therefore has a smaller battery than a conventional format tablet). You can use the new iPad mini for a full day before picking up the charger. The contract is therefore fulfilled.
The 19.3 Wh battery chosen by Apple is recharged by 1 hour 30, approximately, and this using the 20 W unit supplied.
Little progress on the photo
In the photo, the iPad mini 6 does not necessarily make a strong impression. Its unique 12 Mpx wide-angle back-mounted sensor (opening at ƒ / 1.8) offers shots similar to those that an iPhone 8 could take. The dive is correct in good light conditions, with good dynamics as well. In low light, however, we lose sharpness very quickly, as often.
It is still possible to take, from time to time, correct photos with the iPad mini 6… after all, not much more is required from a tablet. The rear sensor does its job perfectly for scanning documents, for example. Finally, it allows video capture in 4K at 24 images per second.
On the front, Apple’s new miniature tablet incorporates a 12 Mpx ultra wide-angle module (this time with an opening at ƒ / 2.4). Its quality is very sufficient for video exchanges. Finally, it allows video capture in 1080p up to 60 fps.
The iPad mini 6 against the competition
The compact tablet market is relatively small these days. Difficult to find, in 8-inch format, a slate as powerful as the iPad mini 6. A much more affordable alternative nevertheless exists with the Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2019), but it is starting to age.
For more or less the same price as the iPad mini 6 (which starts at 559 euros at Apple), it is on the other hand possible to get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 (in 11-inch format). Finally, note that by virtue of its size, the small Apple tablet can constitute an interesting and much less expensive alternative to certain folding smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The iPad mini 6 is a very pleasant tablet to use on a daily basis. Powerful and particularly effective in mobile situations, it does not suffer from any major defect. However, it is criticized for two things: the small amount of storage offered on its basic configuration (64 GB only) and its price a little high. It is also difficult not to see, once again, the iPad mini as a niche product… which ultimately only targets a small portion of users.