Apple Updates the iPad mini and 10.2” iPad

At today’s Apple event, the company unveiled updates to the iPad mini and the 10.2” iPad. The 10.2” version continues to serve as Apple’s entry-level iPad at the lowest price point of any iPad, while the mini takes a more pro-like turn compared to its predecessor.

iPad mini

The new iPad mini was my favorite announcement of today’s Apple event. In the 18 months since I wrote The Mighty mini: Adapting Apple’s Diminutive Tablet to Work and Play, I’ve heard from many MacStories readers who have the same affection for Apple’s most portable tablet that I do. However, the trouble was that that iPad, which was released about 2.5 years ago, came with a lot of compromises compared with any other iPad you could buy until today.

The new iPad mini features the same A15 Bionic chip found in the iPhone 13 line, a bigger, brighter Liquid Retina Display, Touch ID on the top button, an improved camera, stereo speakers, USB-C, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. It’s a lot like the iPad Air that was released last fall but in a smaller package.

Touch ID is located in the mini's top button.

Touch ID is located in the mini’s top button.

The mini’s design has been completely overhauled along the lines of last year’s iPad Air and the iPad Pros. The sides are flat, the bezels narrower, and the Home button is gone. Instead, Touch ID has moved to the top button, just like the Air.

Screen improvements will make the mini better for editing photos or video as shown here.

Screen improvements will make the mini better for editing photos or video as shown here.

The mini’s new screen is larger too at 8.3”, but the overall height of the device has shrunken to 7.3” from 8” thanks to those thinner bezels. The screen is also 500 nits, features Apple’s True Tone technology to adjust the color temperature of the display, and includes P3 wide color gamut.

Just like the iPhone 13 line announced today, the iPad mini includes an A15 Bionic processor that Apple says is 40% faster and a Neural Engine that is twice as fast. According to the company, the graphics performance is 80% better, too, thanks to its 5-core GPU.

The mini includes a single 12MP camera with a ƒ/1.8 aperture. Unlike the new iPhones, the iPad mini does not include Smart HDR 4 and instead uses Smart HDR 3 and lacks many of the other features found in iPhone cameras. Still, the new Wide camera is a step up from the model it replaces.

I was very glad to see the iPad mini supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, which is a big step up from the original model. The Pencil connects magnetically to the righthand side of the iPad, running almost the full length of the device.

Apple has added stereo speakers to the iPad mini, which will make it a better entertainment device. You can connect the mini to the Internet over WiFi 6 or an optional 5G plan. Finally, you can also charge and connect accessories to the mini over USB-C, eliminating Lightning from another iPad model.

The mini's many colors.

The mini’s many colors.

The iPad mini comes ins space gray, pink, purple, and starlight with 64 and 256 GB configurations starting at $499. I would have liked to see a 512 GB model, too, for people who want to download a lot of games or videos, but for many users, 256 GB will be plenty.

There are new Smart Folio cases for the iPad mini too.

There are new Smart Folio cases for the iPad mini too.

I’ve been using an iPad Air since the end of last year, and it’s a fantastic reading device but just a little bigger than I want in most circumstances. The mini is the perfect size for reading, which should only improve with the slightly larger screen. I read a lot, and the mini combined with features like Quick Note is going to be my go-to device whenever I want to be away from my desk.

The 10.2” iPad

I wish this iPad had a name besides the 10.2” iPad. In any event, this is the iPad that starts at just $329, anchoring the iPad lineup. It’s even less expensive for schools that can purchase it for $299. Those are great prices for getting started with an iPad, and with today’s updates, the same price buys more.

The 10.2” iPad, which is now the only iPad that uses a Lightning connector, runs on the A13 Bionic processor and adds a 12MP Ultra Wide camera front camera with a 122-degree field of view that supports Center Stage for centering people in FaceTime and other video calling apps. The camera on the back includes an 8MP sensor. Also, the screen incorporates Apple’s True Tone technology. Finally, Apple has doubled the base storage of the 10.2” iPad to 64 GB and includes a 256 GB option.

You can follow all of our September Apple event coverage through our September 2021 event hub, or subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.

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