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The iPad mini 6 will get a speed boost and smart connectors – report

The iPad mini has barely changed design since its first outing in 2012, but 2021 has long been rumoured as the year that changes. The iPad mini 6 will, apparently, be the “biggest redesign in the nine-year history” of the tablet, and now 9to5Mac has revealed some of the biggest changes to expect.

First and foremost, the iPad mini 6 will get a speed boost. Nothing revolutionary here given the last iteration was released in 2019, but the tablet will apparently use the same Apple A15 chip that will power the upcoming iPhone 13 family. This will be made to the same 5-nanometer fabrication process as the A14, and 9to5Mac adds that a more powerful A15X version could later be introduced to future tablets.

It will also apparently follow the larger, iPad Air and iPad Pro tablets in two important ways. Firstly, Apple will apparently be dropping the Lightning port in favour of USB-C charging. Secondly, it will also have a magnetic Smart Connector, which is used for attaching extras like the Apple Smart Keyboard – though a new size will be required for the iPad mini which, according to previous reports, will be between 8.5- and 9-inches.

All signs point to a tablet that’s going to look like the most recent iPad Air, especially as a previous report highlighted that the iPad mini 6 will be ditching the Home button. That shouldn’t mean the end of Touch ID though – the most recent Air simply relocated fingerprint authentication to the power button.

A positive set of upgrades for my favourite iPad

Of all the business expenses I made when going freelance, the iPad mini 5 is my favourite. Whenever I go to an interview, or cover an event, I have to ensure it’s fully charged up and ready for action, because it’s just tailor made for my needs. With the Apple Pencil and the Notability app, I’m able to record and make notes at the same time, without looking like I’m distractedly reading my phone. It’s brilliant.

The current model has the A12 Bionic chip which gives it the same speed as an iPhone XS or XR: not exactly a slowpoke, but sufficiently dated to be instantly noticeable to anybody making a day-one upgrade. The ability to add a Smart Keyboard sounds promising (though, as somebody who struggled with an Asus Eee 701 netbook back in the day, I’m dubious about comfort on a smaller device) and USB-C charging also sounds positive. 

In truth, for my basic needs (work plus a long held addiction to FTL), I probably won’t be upgrading when Apple introduces a new model, but it seems like a sensible set of changes. Even the reported size increase from 8.5 to 9-inches doesn’t phase me too much, because there’s plenty of bezel to cut, given the design has barely changed from the 2012 original. It’s entirely possible it will be a similar size in the hand, just with more screen to gawk at: a win-win in my book.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on reviews, because any unexpected positives could be enough to push me from ‘ambivalent’ to ‘keen upgrader’…  

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