Apple’s latest tablet, the iPad mini has the advantage of combining a small size and a high-end technical sheet. A brand new design, a chip inherited from the iPhone 13, the arrival of USB-C… Can we speak of a revolution?

The iPad mini is one of the few Apple products that has never seen real changes since the very first version. The design dated back to 2012, with its ultra wide edges and its “physical” button in the lower part. It was high time to change all that. The iPad mini version 2021 is positioned on a rather high-end niche, by taking the design of the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, while embedding the very latest in-house chip, the A15 Bionic. The bill therefore increases damn, since prices start at 559 euros for 64 GB. Note that Apple this time skips the 128 GB and goes from 64 GB to 256 GB … and from 559 euros to 729 euros. The investment is therefore substantial.

The characteristics of the iPad mini

Screen size 8.3 inch
Screen type LCD
Screen definition 2266 x 1488 pixels
Refresh rate 60 Hz
Puce A15 Bionic
RAM 4 Go
Storage 64 / 256 / 512 Go
Autonomy 10 hours
Connectivity 5G (en option) / WiFi 6 / Bluethooth 5 / NFC
Photo sensors 12 Mpx / 12 Mpx
Waterproofing Non
YOU iOS15
Dimensions 195 x 135 x 6 mm
Weight 293 grams

Design and handling: a well-known look in an ultra-compact format

If the iPad mini benefits from a new design, it inevitably recalls other Apple products. Eh yes, the iPad mini looks exactly like an XS version of the iPad Air, which was itself very inspired by the iPad Pro. We are therefore here on a kind of small iPad Air, since we find for example a Touch ID fingerprint sensor wedged on the ignition button, which is mainly used to unlock the device. It works flawlessly here and you can set up multiple fingerprints. Convenient if there are several of you using the product or if you grab it with one hand or another.

The iPad mini versus the iPad Air

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

The physical button under the screen has therefore disappeared, fortunately, and we end up with a tablet that gives pride of place to the thin edges. Here is the good news: Although the same size as the older generation iPad mini (it’s even slightly smaller by a few millimeters), the new iPad mini benefits from a larger screenfrom 7.9 to 8.3 inches. Reading comfort is therefore better and the handling is still as pleasant.

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

In terms of finish and chassis, this iPad mini 2021 has nothing to envy to the most high-end iPads, benefiting from a matt brushed aluminum on the back, very pleasant to the eye and to the touch and which effectively repels traces of fingers. The edges are straight, but the rounded corners and volume knobs are immaculately placed and respond well whether you’re holding the product in portrait or landscape mode. Grabbing the iPad mini with one hand and handling it is therefore a real pleasure, thanks to its small dimensions and its great lightness.

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

On the accessories side, you can count on the compatibility with the Apple Pencil 2, which attaches magnetically to the right side. A very practical stylus for taking notes or making sketches and which adapts perfectly to the small size of the tablet. It then becomes a kind of connected and ultra-luxurious notepad. On the other hand, given the small size of the whole, do not count on a keyboard type “cover”, as can be the Magic Keyboard or the Smart Keyboard Folio. You will have to settle for a classic screen protector.

Last point to note and novelty to applaud: the disappearance of the lightning port in favor of a USB-C connector. You can therefore plug it into a compatible charger to recharge it (a 20 watt charger is included in the box), but also connect external storage media. On the other hand, we say goodbye to the jack to connect headphones. You will therefore need Bluetooth or an adapter to enjoy the sound discreetly.

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

Finally, a few lines on the photo sensors integrated in this iPad mini, which “do the job”, nothing more. At the rear, there is 1 12-megapixel sensor accompanied by a flash. It takes very decent photos for a tablet, but will of course have a hard time fighting against photo sensors on a smartphone. On the front, there is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor, which takes advantage of the new subject tracking technology during a call via FaceTime. This is very effective and manages to accurately follow the face and even the body.

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

A big question remains to be answered: can the particular format of the iPad mini be suitable for everyone? Probably not. Some will find it too small for their use (difficult to write on) while others will be fans of its compactness and the ease with which it fits in the hand. For reading a web page, e-book or digital comic, this is clearly an ideal format.

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

Screen: pure Apple juice, no more no less

For its new iPad mini, Apple includes an 8.3-inch LCD panel displaying a definition of 2266 x 1488 pixels, in a 3: 2 format. Let’s get rid of the only real flaw that we can do with this screen: the absence of Pro Motion technology., that is, an adaptive refresh rate, which ranges from 10Hz to 120Hz. It is present on the iPad Pro and on the iPhone 13 Pro and clearly brings an excellent feeling of fluidity. It is therefore necessary to put a cross on the iPad mini, which is satisfied with a fixed 60Hz, and it must be admitted that, if you are used to using an iPad Pro or an iPhone 13 Pro, you will almost have it. impression that the screen “rows”, with a lack of clarity in the texts, during rapid movements.

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

Apart from this pitfall, we find everything that we expect from a panel of an Apple product. It is first of all ultra bright and can be used without worry outdoors and in the sun, but also in the dark by lowering the brightness to minimum. The screen remains very readable and you will save a lot of battery. We also find the True Tone and Night Shift functions: the first will adapt the colorimetry of the display according to the ambient light, to constantly display the most faithful rendering possible and the second allows a warmer and less tiring display. for the eyes, ideal for resting in the evening before sleeping.

Performance: the power of iPhone 13 in a tablet

Apple has not skimped on the power for its new iPad mini and integrates no less than its very last house SoC, the A15 Bionic, also found in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. As a reminder, this is a chip with 6 cores on the CPU side and 5 cores, which is also accompanied by a “Neural Engine” chip dedicated to artificial intelligence, which goes up to 16 cores. However, this A15 Bionic SoC seems to be slightly less efficient than that of the iPhone 13, several benchmarks having shown that it was slightly underclocked.

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

Rest assured, in practice, the iPad mini performs in absolutely all areas and is particularly satisfactory on the video game side. No problem to run the most demanding games very smoothly and we must admit that the format of the device is ideal for the practice of the video game thing.

IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?IPad mini test: finally the long-awaited revolution for Apple's smallest tablet?

By integrating an A15 Bionic chip in its iPad mini, Apple is clearly positioning its tablet on a high-end niche and therefore offers it unprecedented power. Apart from the “Pro” models, we are facing the most powerful iPad on the market.

Autonomy: a good day of use in perspective

In terms of autonomy, the iPad mini promises ten hours of use before having to plug it in. A figure that is verified in practice and you will have no problem to use it for a whole day. And if this is not the case, know that the device loses very little when it is on standby, barely 5% in 24 hours. If you play intensely, however, it will be difficult to make it through the day. Charging is not very fast with the supplied 20 watt charger and it will take a little less than 2 hours to fill the battery.

Buy the iPad mini on Amazon

Conclusion

Points forts

  • A new ultra efficient design
  • A screen a little bigger than before
  • Excellent grip
  • Good autonomy
  • A very powerful tablet

Weak points

  • Screen limited to 60 Hz
  • A format primarily made for viewing content
  • Slow charging

The iPad mini finally benefits from a deserved and life-saving facelift. By taking the design of the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, the small tablet from Apple gains a larger screen and ergonomics at the top. We also appreciate the fingerprint sensor under the ignition button, the lightness of the chassis or the front photo sensor capable of following you during a Facetime call. The power is more clearly there, thanks to the integration of the very last Apple A15 Bionic chip. It delivers an excellent level of performance and turns the iPad mini into an ultra-fast portable console. Still, the format of the iPad mini is probably not for everyone and the tablet is primarily intended for viewing content or video games. It is an excellent luxury e-reader, a powerful console, an ultra-fast multimedia player. But is it all worth € 559? Up to you.

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