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Test: Apple Ipad Mini (2021) - big but small

Test: Apple Ipad Mini (2021) – big but small

The development of the Ipad series in recent years has been mainly about being able to do more, to be able to use several apps at the same time in a more fluid way, to increasingly bridge the gap to the computer and not just act as an iPhone extender. The Pencil and the advanced keyboard tray with touchpad accelerated this development. It also increased performance and upgraded the iPad operating system, with system control only supported with a touchpad or mouse, that is, without actually touching the screen.

Keyboard skin is too small

The stylus, the second generation Apple Pencil that works with the iPad Mini and the device has USB-c on the bottom making it easy to connect external storage and accessories, but in many other ways, the tablet looks like it was still very much alive at the time when the previous version came. From Ipad Mini and that was as long ago as 2019 and before that the model appeared before 2015 already. Even if a stylus is present, a physical keyboard is not a good idea for this device. Apple doesn’t sell anything simply because the keyboard sleeve that fits the larger iPad models would be too small to fit all the keys in a useful way. The size also means I don’t think I’ll take advantage of the advances the iPad series has made in recent years. Swiping with the stylus from the corner of the screen opens the small quick note that should appear and hide only a small portion of the screen, easily on larger iPads. But here too, a small note occupies a large portion of the screen, so the purpose of keeping other apps running and visible, is a bit short. Same thing with multitasking. Split screen for many apps, which is now a little easier with Ipad OS 15, doesn’t have the same obvious advantage here.

Put it in the back pocket

So, in large parts, the Ipad Mini becomes a slightly bloated Iphone. It is greatly amplified if compared to the Iphone Mini, not the loudspeaker if compared to the Iphone Max. In terms of size, I can shove the Ipad Mini into the back pocket of my jeans, but it’s not as comfortable or practical. Carrying it, for example, makes more sense in a jacket pocket and the fact that it’s extra portable is an obvious advantage with a tablet compared to larger Ipads. On a certain account then the screen will be smaller.

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Ignoring for a moment the size and limitations it defines for what can fit here, the iPad OS still offers great freedom of choice and performance can’t be grumbled. The range of apps in the App Store of course includes apps for all the major streaming services and productivity apps from Apple itself, Google and Microsoft, as well as apps for example to be able to read books and newspapers and of course a wide range of games to play. However, I quickly noticed that the stylus is not very useful in Google Office applications. However, in Apple’s own apps and in the system as such, the iPad is surprisingly good at interpreting regular handwriting and making the text I type by hand translated into editable text, which of course makes the benefit rather self-evident rather than having to type myself just right afterwards. Just as on the iPad Pro, the stylus can be attached to the long side of the iPad Mini using a magnet so that it is available and there is less risk of losing it. If the iPad Mini outwardly borrows a lot of design from the iPad Pro, the same legacy won’t happen in terms of performance. Here, too, this is enough and it will end. The Ipad Mini is powered by the A15 Bionic, the same chip in the iPhone 13 that manages to make the Ipad Mini fast when using it. However, this screen lacks the quick screen update that was introduced in the Iphone 13 Pro and for that matter it was also previously present in the Ipad Pro. Here we have to content ourselves with 60 Hz instead of 120. I also react to the fact that the screen is in a strange 3: 2 format, which means that both films and photos have black edges around it, and therefore we do not really take full advantage of the surface.

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One camera each

Cameras are another obvious difference over other devices, whether we compare them to other phones or tablets. At the back we find a single narrow-angle camera, so if you are going to take a picture of something in front of you on the table, you may need to take a step back. No wide angle then. The selfie camera is equipped with a centering function, which means that when you have video meetings, you always end up in the middle of the photo, even if you leave the board on a table and move freely in front of it. How often do you use it in practice is another question. Most of the time, you may still be sitting in front of your video meeting, especially when you have an iPad with a screen as small as this one, it just isn’t practical to look at it from a distance. Unfortunately, the selfie camera used for video calls is on the short side of the Ipad Mini, which makes the angle a bit awkward because video meetings usually take place in landscape mode.

Other than that, Apple is pretty good at adapting the iPad Mini so that it performs well in all different directions. Of course, the screen rotates around so that it adjusts no matter which joint you hold the iPad Mini and Touch ID is in the button on one short side, multiple fingers learning is recommended, so that it arrives naturally no matter how you hold it. The tablet and the finger you then use for identification. It’s still a little unusual not to have Face ID, but Touch ID works really well and by resting your finger on the reader, the screen unlocks, if you leave your finger a little longer you’ll also go straight to the home screen with the icons.

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Perhaps the new Ipad Mini is a taste of what the foldable iPhone can offer. Imagine you folded an iPad Mini in the middle and got a 13″ x 10″ device roughly folded. If such a foldable iPhone is to be successful, Apple must work even harder to add additional features in tablet mode. As the iPad Mini looks today, it’s also a middle ground between tablet and phone. It does benefit from the screen size, but it still feels like a big mobile phone than it can challenge a computer and doesn’t really give that one hundred percent tablet feel.

questions and answers

How is the sound?
There is no real depth or pressure in the sound from the speakers.

Is the iPad Mini waterproof?
No, so be careful if you use it outdoors or in the kitchen when cooking.

What can I do that I can’t actually do on my iPhone?
Above all, it’s Apple Pencil support, multitasking with multiple apps in a split screen, as well as the ability to connect accessories via the USB-C connector. And a bigger screen.


another thing
The clearest options are a large Iphone for a smoother format or a large Ipad so you can take better advantage of the tablet’s unique features.

test image

The rear camera is simple and offers no wide angle and no optical zoom.