The iPad Mini Is More Than Ever a Big-Ass iPhone

By Brenda Stolyar

Apple's smallest tablet has finally received its biggest refresh in almost a decade. The new iPad Mini, unveiled at the company's virtual hardware event on Tuesday, looks almost unrecognizable compared to its 2019 predecessor. We're talkin' slimmer bezels, Touch ID, 5G connectivity, and even a USB-C port.

Starting at $499 for the base model, the sixth-generation iPad Mini will come in an array of fun colors including purple, pink, and what Apple calls “starlight,” which is buff champagne color. If you're into more muted tones, you can also opt for the traditional Space Gray. It's currently available for preorder with full availability starting September 24.

But the most striking change is that it looks very much like an extra large iPhone. The home button is gone, with TouchID moving to the power button at the top, and the screen taking up almost the entire face of the device.

Mini Makeover

The full iPad line, with the Mini on the right. Next to it, second from right, is the new base-model iPad.

Photograph: Apple

If you were to line up every previous iPad Mini, you would notice that, aside from some camera changes, the hardware has remained mostly untouched throughout the years.

Enter the 2021 iPad Mini, which looks wholly redesigned. On the front, the Liquid Retina display (with 500 nits of brightness) has been increased from 7.9 inches (as seen on the 2019 version) to 8.3 inches. Rather than thick bezels all around, there's now a screen that reaches nearly from edge to edge—even the bottom, since the home button is gone.

Apple also updated the cameras with a 12-megapixel sensor on the back, complete with a larger aperture (for sharper photos) and an improved flash for better photos in low light. On the front is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and Apple has added the Center Stage feature that used to be exclusive to the iPad Pro. The feature automatically keeps you in frame while you move around on a video call.

And yep, that Lightning connector is gone in favor of a USB-C port. The new Mini also comes with support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. Rather than plugging it into the Lightning port (as with the previous Mini and first-generation Apple Pencil) it automatically pairs to the Mini and magnetically attaches to the side, where it wirelessly charges.

Speaking of accessories, Apple released Smart Folio cases for the Mini as well. Sold separately, you'll have the choice between white, black, English lavender, electric orange, and dark cherry.