Apple’s new iPad mini is less a redesign of the classic iPad mini than a full-scale reboot.
The 8.3-inch device discards virtually everything (including the 3.5mm headphone jack) you know about the tiny tablet first introduced in 2012 and replaces it with design elements and technology ideas from the iPad Pro and much more recent iPad Air.
Aside from the size (more mini than ever), this is a completely new device that disarms you with its adorable looks before smacking you across the face with full-scale performance. More than any iPad that’s come before it, the iPad mini looks like it was custom-built to work with the second-generation Apple Pencil. The optional accessory snaps nearly onto a magnetized charging base on the iPad mini’s now flat-edge and, with just half an inch to spare on either side, looks as if it was born to live there.
From a design perspective, Apple iPad mini (6th gen) looks like a small iPad Air (4th gen) and shares many, but not all, of its features. The chassis are essentially the same, with a flat aluminum back and aluminum edges, the aforementioned Apple Pencil pad and a sim slot on one edge, and another edge that features the stereo speakers, volume rockers, and an effective Touch ID power/sleep button. The bottom edge has the same USB-C charging port and additional stereo speaker grills.
The one visible difference between the iPad Air and this mini is the 5G antenna band running from the edges of the device across the back. You can get an iPad mini without 5G support and those bands.