The Mighty Mini

I recently picked up the new iPad mini 6 and wanted to give some quick thoughts on it after about a week of using it.

I have always loved the iPad mini, going all the way back to the original one from 2012. I have owned each model, save for the 3rd generation. Most recently I got the iPad mini 5th generation when it was released in March 2019. I was so excited that Apple was updating the mini that I preordered it the moment it was announced. The iPad mini 5 was my constant companion up until back in January of this year when I unfortunately lost it. I have never lost an electronic like this in my life but after spending a few weeks trying to find it by retracing my steps as well as using Apple’s Find My app, it was indeed lost for good. 😢

I found myself craving another mini but by the time I had lost it, that model was about 2 years old and I hated to buy another one at full price. Apple complicates things for us mini lovers as they only sporadically update it. I decided to take a wait & see approach, and I’m glad I did as on September 14th this year, Apple unveiled the iPad mini 6th generation. Finally, I could have the mini back in my life!

Apple really went above and beyond on the new mini. I believe this is because they know that they only update it on occasion, so they make it count when they do. The iPad mini 6 introduces a lot of new features for the mini line. It has an all-new design mirroring the recent iPad Pros as well as the 4th generation iPad Air. This means saying goodbye to the home button as well as a introducing a squared off design and an edge to edge screen. The body of the iPad mini 6 is actually slightly smaller than the mini 5 it replaces but the screen has gotten slightly larger due to the reduced bezels, from 7.9″ to 8.3″. All of these are welcome changes in my opinion and make the iPad mini 6 truly feel modern again.

I picked up a Space Gray iPad mini with 256gb of storage and 5G cellular connectivity. As this is my favorite model of iPad, I don’t mind spending a bit more, although it does seem that Apple is reaching the upper limit for how much they can charge for the mini line. 💸💸💸 After using it for about a week, here are my thoughts so far:

  • One thing I love about the mini is it can just be an iPad. With Apple pushing the iPad Pros the last few years, with their keyboard cases, multitasking, and best in class performance, more and more people are now using their iPad’s as laptops and their main computers. This is fine of course, I use my iPad Pro in this same manner. However, there is something about the mini, with it’s compact size that is too small for a good keyboard case and a screen that is better suited for single-screen tasks than multitasking, that hearkens back to how we all used the original iPads, as just a fun device. I love using the mini full screen in portrait way more than in landscape. This is a big strength of the mini in my opinion.
  • As I mentioned before, the size of the mini is not conducive to a keyboard case. This means you are going to be doing a lot of typing using the mini’s on-screen keyboard, which is fantastic, particularly in portrait mode. I absolutely love thumb typing on the mini in portrait orientation, it is so so good.
  • I have been very impressed with the speed of the mini as well. Apple gave it their latest processor, the A15, the same chip they put in the also recently released iPhone 13 line, and it is fast. I have yet to find anything that can slow this iPad down. I would imagine that this chip will perform very well for years to come, which is great because it will most likely be years before Apple updates the mini again. Likewise, I appreciate that the iPad mini 6 has moved to 5G for its cellular data connection. This insures that it will get the best cellular speeds for years to come.
  • Another new feature for the mini 6 is support for the second generation Apple Pencil. While the 5th generation iPad mini did support the original Apple Pencil, I much prefer the gen 2 Pencil. It has a nicer matte finish, has a flat side, and most of all charges in a much more elegant way than the first gen did. Huge upgrade in my opinion.
  • Another feature the mini 6 added is support for Center Stage for the front facing camera. The was a feature first introduced with the M1 iPad Pros earlier in 2021. Basically, Center Stage utilizes the wide angle front facing camera by showing you a cropped view and then following you if you move to the left or the right. This allows you to actually move around a bit when on a long video call, knowing that the iPad will keep you in frame. It can also detect if someone joins you in the room and automatically zoom out to keep both subjects in the frame. It’s a great feature and it just works.
  • My favorite feature of the new mini is something it shares with all of the previous minis in the line and that is simply it’s portability. I love how easy the mini travels with you. It fits in my jacket pocket, my small sling bags, the back pocket of my jeans, & you barely even notice it in a larger bag. There is rarely a reason not to take it with you because of this. Having an iPad that is this powerful but also this small is a really useful thing.

These are my thoughts on the iPad mini 6. It really is a fantastic little device. The main way I am using it so far is for reading saved articles, going through my RSS feeds, playing Apple Arcade games, scrolling thru Twitter, and watching YouTube. I’m very glad to have the mini back in my life.

The iPad Air

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I bought a Wifi only 32gb iPad Air a couple of months ago and would like to share my impressions on it. For the last year I have been using a Verizon 16GB iPad mini which I loved for many reasons and hated for a few. Before that I had a Wifi only 32GB 3rd generation iPad. So what made me go back to the big iPad? The number one reason I upgraded was that I needed more space. 16GB just doesn’t cut it for me anymore on an iPad. I am fine with a 16GB iPhone but with the amount of magazines, comics, & blueprints (work related) that I have on my iPad, I need at least 32GB. I found myself constantly having to manage the storage on my mini. I also recently got tethering enabled on my iPhone so having a cellular iPad was no longer necessary. If I need data on the go I can easily get it from my phone now.  Another reason why I upgraded is that I read a lot on my iPad and the non-retina screen on the iPad mini was really starting to bother me, especially for comics and blueprints. All that being said why not just upgrade to the new iPad mini with Retina display? It was a very tough decision to be honest. The iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina display are both incredibly good tablets. They both have the same A7 processor, cameras, retina display, battery life, etc. They have never been more similar. It really comes down to just two things.

  1. Screen Size – The iPad Air has a 9.7″ display where the iPad mini has a 7.9″ display.
  2. Price – The iPad Air being $100 more than the comparable iPad mini.

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There were advantages to both iPads for me and I will list them below.

iPad Air

Advantages:

  • The iPad Air is incredibly thin and light with an all new design. It weighs just 1 pound. It is unbelievable how much lighter it is compared to previous full-sized iPads.
  • The 9.7″ Retina display on the iPad Air is ideal for comics and magazines of which I consume a lot of.
  • The larger iPads are much better for typing in my experience. The iPad mini is just not very comfortable to type on for long periods of time.
  • The iPad Air’s battery seems to last much longer in standby than my iPad mini did.

iPad Mini

Advantages:

  • The iPad mini is extremely portable. For example, when I had my mini, I would take it to a lot more places as it would fit in my back pocket where now that I have the Air I end up just using my iPhone more.
  • The iPad mini is much better for one handed use. While the iPad Air has lost a significant amount of weight, it is still a two-handed device.
  • The iPad mini is $100 cheaper than the iPad Air. You can basically get twice the storage for the same price by going with the mini.

Lastly, I want to talk about accessories. I picked up a blue smart cover for my iPad Air. I like it quite a bit better than the same smart cover that I had on my iPad mini. It doesn’t collapse near as easily. I also picked up a Belkin Shield back cover. I like it fine though it is a tad loose. That is all I have bought for my new iPad but I have been using my Cocoon Gramercy bag with it that I loved using so much with my 3rd Gen iPad. It is still the best bag for an iPad, a few accessories and a phone in my opinion. When it is not in the Cocoon, it is in my bigger but still small bag, the Tom Bihn Ristretto 11″ which I really need to write a blog post on.

In conclusion I am very happy with my iPad Air. I am enjoying the large retina screen, the reduced weight, & the bigger storage capacity very much. I would hesitate to recommend it completely to everyone else though. If you are looking to buy a new iPad consider both the Air and the mini and buy the one that best fits how you would like to use it.

The iPad mini

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My Shiny New iPad mini

I have very recently purchased an iPad mini & I would like to share some of my thoughts on it. This is actually the 4th iPad that I have bought. I bought the OG iPad ( 16gb Wifi Model ) shortly after it was released, upgraded to the iPad 2 ( 16gb Wifi as well ) again, shortly after it had been released, & then waited in line for the midnight release of the 3rd Gen iPad ( White 32gb Wifi ) in the spring of this year. I always sold the previous iPad shortly before the new one came out, as Apple products hold their value really well. The 3rd Gen iPad was really great. It was white, which is the best color for tablets in my opinion, and the retina screen on it was just amazing. It really is something to behold. So why did I recently sell it and pick up an iPad mini? As most people probably already know the iPad mini has a slightly older processor in it ( the A5 chip ) than the 3rd Gen iPad (A5X), & the new 4th Gen iPad (A6X). It also has the same 1024 x 768 screen resolution as the iPad 1 and 2, not the far clearer 2048 x 1536 retina resolution of the 3rd and 4th Gen iPads. So why would anybody want an iPad mini over one of the newer full size iPads? It wasn’t a hard decision for me at all. The iPad mini has some stuff going for it that really suited the way I want to use my iPad. The first thing you notice when you pick up an iPad mini is how incredibly thin & light it is, especially compared to the slightly heavy 3rd Gen iPad I am used to. I’m not trying to say that the regular iPads are too big & bulky. They are not. But this iPad mini is jacket pocket or put it in your purse and forget it’s there portable! I have been carrying mine with me pretty much wherever I go. It also has just as good battery life in my estimation as the full size iPads. If you own an iPad you know how great the battery life is on these devices. I would not want to purchase something that took a step back when it comes to the battery performance. But the big difference in this iPad mini for me is that I purchased the Verizon LTE version. This has been a game changer for me. (Note – You can get an LTE version of the regular iPads as well, I just never had personally.) It is hard for me to explain how convenient it is to have a constant internet connection on my iPad mini. I find myself using it over my phone most of the time now. Also worth noting, the speeds of Verizon’s LTE network are nothing short of amazing. I’ve gotten 24mps down and 17mps up on their network. It’s basically as fast as my home network only I can take it anywhere I go. Another benefit to buying the cellular version of the iPad mini is that you get a GPS chip inside. With it’s great battery life, 7.9″ screen, & GPS capability, the iPad mini makes for an awesome GPS in the car! Overall, I am very happy with the mini. While I miss the retina screen from my previous iPad, that is the only thing I miss about it. Everything else in my opinion is better on the mini. I have purchased a couple of accessories for my new iPad. I bought the Blue Smart Cover from Apple and the SwitchEasy CoverBuddy back cover. I love that they protect the front & back of my iPad while adding only minimal thickness and weight to it. I have added some pictures below of the accessories on my iPad.

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iPad mini With Blue Smart Cover

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Smart Cover Folded Into Stand

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SwitchEasy CoverBuddy Back Cover