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Hands-on: 2021 Apple iPad Mini and iPad

By Kenny Yeo - 25 Sep 2021

Hands-on: 2021 Apple iPad Mini and iPad

The new iPad Mini on the left and the new iPad on the right.

I think it’s safe to say that many were surprised last week when Apple started its “California Streaming” event by announcing not one, but two new iPads. I certainly didn’t see it coming. But that’s exactly what happened, Apple announced a long-awaited new iPad Mini and a new iPad.

Let’s start with the exciting stuff. The iPad Mini. This is the sixth-generation iPad Mini and it’s one that we have been waiting for a long time. If you remember, the last time Apple announced a new iPad Mini was back in 2019

The iPad Mini's display is a little larger and has less obvious bezels.

It has an all-new design that mimics the iPad Air. Gone is the Touch ID button on the front and the bezels are now significantly less chunky. And following the iPad Air, the sides are now squared off and flat. And like the iPad Air, it comes in rather funky colours: Space Grey, Pink, Purple, and Starlight. The unit I have is Starlight and I think I would describe it as pale gold or champagne. It’s unusual and I’m fond of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see or handle the other colours so I can’t comment on them.

Starlight is a rather unique shade of light gold.

The new iPad Mini is a lovely little compact thing. In terms of size, it’s slightly smaller than the fifth-generation iPad Mini and a little bigger than a fourth-generation Kindle Paperwhite. Weight is a smidge under 300g so it’s comfortable to hold in one hand.

The new sixth-generation iPad Mini has a larger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display – up from 7.9-inches in its predecessor. The display, in typical Apple fashion, looks great. It’s sharp, bright, and colours look vibrant and punchy. Though Apple says it has an “edge-to-edge screen”, the fact is it still has pretty thick bezels around the display. The bezels are roughly the same size as the iPad Air’s but because the iPad Mini is smaller, it makes the bezels look more conspicuous. The upside is that there’s more real estate for users to hold on to.

The new iPad Mini is a little smaller than the last generation version but it has a larger screen.

Inside, the iPad Mini is powered by Apple’s newest A15 Bionic chip, which is also used in the new iPhones. However, for reasons unknown, it’s running slightly slower in the iPad Mini. Still, I doubt many would notice because this is one speedy tablet. Apps launch quickly and nothing you throw at it troubles it.

Other things you need to know about the iPad Mini is that it has a USB-C port, stereo speakers, supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, and that it has no Smart Connector or headphone jack. It’s probably tempting to think of the iPad Mini as a shrunk-down iPad Air but as my colleague explains, that’s clearly not the case.

Based on first impressions, the new iPad Mini looks like everything that fans of the iPad Mini had hoped for. It's compact, has a nice display, and it's powerful. 

The new iPad is almost physically indistinguishable from last year's version.

On to the iPad. This is the ninth generation iPad and it’s mainly a spec-bump update to last year’s 8th generation iPad. On the outside, nothing has really changed. The dimensions are the same, they weigh about the same, and they have the same buttons and ports in the same places. This means this iPad is the only tablet that Apple currently makes that uses the Lightning port. Support for accessories is also unchanged. So this iPad still only works with Apple’s first-generation Apple Pencil and there’s a Smart Connector that works with Apple’s Smart Keyboard.

If you already own accessories that use the Smart Connector, you will be able to use it with the new iPad too.

The display has received a small upgrade. It’s still a 10.2-inch Retina display but it now supports TrueTone technology. The processor has been upgraded too, from the A12 Bionic to the newer A13 Bionic which debuted in 2019 with the iPhone 11 series. It might be an older processor but in my short time with the iPad, I don’t find it to be a problem at all. Even on newer games like Genshin Impact, it ran without a hitch. Based on first impressions, it looks like a mighty capable entry-level tablet. It's only available in Silver and Space Grey.


Availability and pricing

Both the iPad Mini and iPad are available for pre-order now and customers will start receiving them on 24 September. Prices are in the table below:

6th generation iPad Mini prices
Capacity Wi-Fi only Wi-Fi + Cellular
64GB S$749 S$979
256GB S$979 S$1,209

9th generation iPad prices

Capacity Wi-Fi only Wi-Fi + Cellular
64GB S$499 S$699
256GB S$729 S$929

Stay tuned for my full reviews of these new tablets.

But if you can't wait, you can pre-order them now from the Apple Online Store, the Apple Flagship Store on Lazada, or the Apple Flagship Store on Shopee.

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