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Issue #63: Thoughts on yesterday’s Apple Event

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Yesterday was Apple Event day, and while it wasn’t exactly packed with surprises, it was a pretty solid one, I think. If you doubted there’d be an iPhone 13 (regular, mini, Pro and Pro Max), you can rest assured, everything is as expected.

Both the iPad and the iPad mini got updates, something I’m a lot more excited about. So let’s talk a little about those.

The regular iPad

Can you believe it that the iPad, regular 10.2” version, is on its 9th generation? What a ride… This one gets a pretty solid update, I think, with a Retina True Tone display and a faster, A13 Bionic, chip. It also has a 12 megapixel Ultra Wide front camera, which means that the iPad now supports Center Stage.

What the 10.2” iPad didn’t get, was a new form factor. It’s the same Lightning port and home button as the previous generation, same 8 megapixel Wide camera, same 4G, and so on.

Storage got a much-needed bump too, with the iPad starting at 64 GB ($329 for Wi-Fi version, $459 for cellular) now. It also comes in a 256 GB ($479/$609) model. App offloading is a pretty nifty feature, so I can see plenty of users getting on just fine with 64 GB, whereas the previous 32 GB was really pushing it. That said, always spring for the larger model if you can, you won’t regret it.

🆚 iPad 8 vs iPad 9

20% faster. Retina Display with better coating and True Tone. 12 MP front-facing camera, 8 MP Wide camera. 1080p HD video recording.

ℹ️ The new iPad comes in silver and space gray, so no gold model anymore.

The new iPad mini

The iPad mini got the makeover I was hoping for. It now has the same form factor as the iPad Air and iPad Pros, with USB-C (not Thundebolt, mind you) instead of Lightning. It’s quite the jump up from the previous iPad mini (this is the 6th generation), with its shiny 8.3” Liquid Retina display, and the new A15 Bionic chip. Despite the screen being bigger (8.3” as opposed to 7.9”), the actual devices are actually a bit smaller and lighter overall. That’s due to not having to incorporate the front-facing home button, obviously.

The iPad mini is very much like the iPad Air, with the same sort of True Tone display (500 nits, if you’re counting). It’s got the latest chip, just like the iPhone 13 models, so it’s faster than the iPad Air (for now, expect a spec bump down the line), and supports the second generation Apple Pencil. And just like the iPad Air, there’s no Face ID like in the iPad Pro models. Instead, you get Touch ID on the lock button, which works fine and was expected. If you were hoping for a Magic or Smart Keyboard (which the previous iPad mini actually had), you’re out of luck. There is a nice Smart Folio cover though, and I’m sure third party accessory makers will give us a cramped keyboard cover down the line.

Just like the iPad, the iPad mini gets the 12 megapixel front-facing camera with support for Center Stage (iPad Air only has a 7 megapixel FaceTime HD camera, so no Center Stage there). It also gets the same camera as the iPad Air, 12 megapixels Wide, if you’re one of those persons who snap photos with your iPad. The mini also inherits the two landscape stereo speakers from the Air, which should be more than enough for some casual streaming, youtubing, or gaming.

Oh, and it gets 5G, if you want to take you iPad mini with you and always have internet access. It’s not the fastest version of 5G though (not millimeter-wave), but support for that isn’t all that good anyway.

The iPad mini comes in 64 GB and 256 GB models, just like both the Air and the regular iPad. The 64 GB model is $499/$649 for Wi-Fi and cellular respectively, whereas the 256 GB model is $649/$799. That’s a hefty price tag, but it’s cheaper than the iPad Air, despite having it having a less capable processor.

🆚 iPad mini 5 vs iPad mini 6 
40% faster CPU. 80% faster GPU. 8.3”. 0.4” larger screen. Liquid Retina Display. Ten times faster data transfers over USB-C. Wi-Fi 6. 5G for cellular models. 12 MP Ultra Wide front-facing camera, 12 MP Wide camera.

ℹ️ The new iPad mini comes in a range of colors. There’s space gray, pink, purple, and the new starlight.

Who should buy these iPads?

The regular iPad is clearly a device that Apple would love to see in schools. It even comes with a discount for schools should they want to buy it, which is nice. Thanks to the Smart Connector and the Apple Pencil (first generation), you can get some serious work done on these devices. It’s also a great first iPad, or a device for the couch.

Things get a bit more tricky when talking about the new iPad mini. It’s a device I’ve been wanting for a long time, as regular readers know, and I got everything I wanted.

  • Small form factor for reading.
  • USB-C.
  • Support for the second generation Apple Pencil.
  • Nice speakers (hopefully).

For me, the iPad mini is a potential notebook, and a device for content consumption. While the A15 doubtless can handle a lot of more demanding tasks, I think the screen size will put me off for anything that isn’t Apple Pencil related. Thumb-typing isn’t exactly my favorite way to compose words, so it needs a stand-alone keyboard. That puts us in 11” iPad Pro territory, which is a better device in every way for that particular task.

You could definitely have the iPad mini as your only iPad, but chances are you’d want a larger one if you’re going iPad only. A lot of us iPad maniacs will pick it up as a casual, at-home iPad, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of Mac and PC users that’ll switch to the smaller form factor as well, at some point.

I’m happy with what Apple announced on yesterday’s event. I’ll have more on these two new iPad models as soon as they arrive. Until then, tell me, were you happy with the new models?

Until next time, happy iPad shopping!

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡