What’s the Skinny on the 2021 iPad mini?

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What’s the skinny on the 2021 iPad Mini 6? Apple Pencil, for one

Apple has now dished out the 6th-generation iPad mini with all the main features of the others in the ever-growing iPad family.. Long gone are the days when you needed an iPad Pro to use the Apple Pencil, though the Pro still gives you considerably more processing power. But the mini is plenty powerful for gaming, running art apps, and more. Here’s some info on this interesting device that’s bigger than a phone and smaller than a full-grown iPad.

The 2021 iPad mini, with its 8.3″ (diagonal) screen, is big enough to do a lot of things on–gaming, movie-watching, video calls, and yes, sketching. It’s probably is too small to substitute for a larger one as a primary portable art studio. Many artists wish there was something larger than the 12.9.” But for those going out into the world, having this portability could make for a real gain in productivity.

You still have to shell out for the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil. So saving money isn’t the best reason to get the mini. A better reason is that you want to be able to have a small tablet to sketch or work on your art on the go, that you can then port over to a larger device when you get back to your studio. It is a fun, speedy thing that once you pick up you might not be able to put down. Its antireflective screen is easy on the eyes, though you still might want a matte screen protector that feels like paper.

As you can see in the picture, the Pencil is about as long as the length of the screen. You can stick the Pencil to the sides magnetically (thanks for the idea, Surface!).

2021 iPad mini features

The Mini 6 is similar to the iPad air. It has a Liquid Retina design that’s “all screen,” and features a Touch ID button. So almost all of that 8.3″ is good, arable screen real estate.  It’s also got USB-C charging. It’s got support for 5G and has fast Wi-fi 6.

Its bezel comes in  about 1/3 of an inch thick, which takes away just a little space from its 8.3” screen. It’s not exactly “all screen, no bezel,” since the bezel is slightly bigger than the larger iPad Pro’s, but that’s OK. I think it’s good to have a little area you can grip.

Basically, if you’ve already got a larger iPad Pro, iPad or Air, those all take the Apple Pencil now,  the Mini is more like a light dessert. It design is sleek and updated, so there’s more visual difference with other iPads  than just size. Its release price was higher than the 2019 version, the last time they upgraded the mini. (That’s actually not that long ago in Apple years, and many people use their iPads for a long, long time.)

The lowest-end model only differs in storage, at 64GB, with the priciest at 256. Unlike Android devices, Apple still stubbornly doesn’t allow SD cards, but you can always get more Cloud storage or use other storage options. 64 GB really isn’t much, though, especially if you use a lot of layers. A 128 GB model would have been a nice compromise.

2021 iPad mini specs

ios 15
Powerful A15 Bionic chip with Neural Engine
LTE option
Magnetic connector
2266 x 1488 resolution (a bit higher than last gen) 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone and wide color
8.3-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone and wide color gamut
A15 Bionic chip with 64‑bit architecture
6-core CPU
5-core graphics
16-core Neural Engine
326ppi panel (same as last one)
Weight under 1 lb.
64GB and 256GB
Top button with Touch ID to use Apple Pay and for secure authentication
100% recycled aluminum
Rounded rectangle display
500 nits brightness
Antireflective display
No more home button
Volume buttons at top
No headphone jack
Comes with fast 20W charger
Thickness 6.3 mm
12MP ultra wide front camera that supports Center Stage (keeps you front and center during video calls, making your audience ooh and ahh).
Also, 12MP wide back camera
Landscape stereo speakers
10-12 hours of battery life
fast Wi-Fi 6
5G for the LTE
Comes in purple, starlight, pink, and space gray

Being an inveterate Pencil-misplacer, on my iPad Pro I use a simple pen loop Velcro’d to the back, which has saved me many hours of searching for the Pencil—I combine that with a free Bluetooth-device finder app. But magnets are just fine.

The iPad mini is plenty powerful for art apps, gaming, and streaming—you wouldn’t expect less. It is a really fun thing to have, and can fit in just about any bag (not a pocket, though). While it may not be a must-have if you’ve already got an iPad Pro or other drawing device, having that extra portability might get you out sketching more and capturing those autumn colors.
See the 2021 iPad mini on Amazon

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