I’ve been holding off buying a new iPad mini for some time now, and the reason is pretty simple.
It badly needs a redesign.
Earlier this year, I made the switch from a 12.9” iPad Pro to the new iPad Air, and I’ve not looked back since. The latter is pretty much the only iPad I recommend these days, but I have to admit that I bought it out of frustration.
Having used the 12.9” iPad ever since that screen size debuted in 2015, I’ve realised that it’s just a bit too big at times. This is particularly the case when your M1 MacBook Air has taken centre stage for most mobile computing tasks.
I wanted an iPad mini to fill the gap and give me something that would purely be used for consumption. I waited for as long as I could in the vain hope that Apple might give it the ‘Pro’ makeover.
That never happened. So, I opted for the Air instead. It’s slightly bigger than what I was after, but a great tablet nonetheless.
As we near a potential Apple event, it’s with a heavy heart that I report the latest round of iPad leaks. They are, without question, massively disappointing if, like me, you’re hankering after a new iPad mini.
The new iPad mini 6 redesign… it ain’t happening
Tom’s Guide recently published an article in which they quote a potential iPad design leak from the renowned Sonny Dickson.
Dickson’s tweet features a photo of what are alleged to be refreshed iPad Pros and a new iPad mini.
Refreshed iPad Pros and iPad Mini dummies. Triple Camera array on the pros. Central camera up top on iPad mini; slightly thicker. Hard to tell and different in screen size. pic.twitter.com/5Luizv1T2r— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) April 8, 2021
Underwhelmed? Me too.
If you squint hard enough and ignore any potential distortion that might be on offer from the camera used to take the photo, it’s possible that this new iPad mini has a slightly larger screen thanks to marginally smaller bezels. But that’s totally irrelevant.
It’s the same design we’ve had for years.
I noted recently that the MacBook Air design has been a resounding success for Apple. It is completely timeless, and, despite those large bezels and zero changes in form factor for over a decade, it still looks as fresh as the day it was pulled from a Manila envelope.
The iPad mini doesn’t. It looks like a very old iPad. And I cannot fathom why on earth it may not get the new chassis.
The infuriating side of Apple
This is one of Apple’s worst traits. I know they’re a business and I know bottom-line profit is what matters, but their insistence on squeezing every last drop of profit out of the supply chain really irks me at times.
It makes sense to rinse the MacBook Air design because, as noted, they were so far ahead of themselves with that design. It also makes sense to keep the original iPad design in some form, because it is a superb educational tool and can consequently be sold at a far lower price, en masse.
But the iPad mini? Come on, guys!
Giving it the ‘Air’ makeover by all but removing the bezels and moving Touch ID to the power button is such an obvious thing to do. Imagine what a great little tablet the iPad mini would be in that form factor. The screen size could be increased slightly without sacrificing its overall footprint, and it’d surely gain oodles of kudos among its fanbase.
I’m all too familiar with that feeling of disappointment when Apple launches a product that’s only marginally different to the generation it replaces. But this is beyond that; it’s blind ignorance if Dickson’s leak is genuine.
Is Apple worried about cannibalising its own product line?
There’s potentially something else going on here.
As I mentioned earlier, I can’t think of any other iPad to recommend at the moment, other than the Air. Having used both that and the iPad Pro line, I can confidently say that the absence of a higher refresh rate screen, better camera and LiDAR is completely irrelevant.
Indeed, the only reason I’d ever suggest you opt for the iPad Pro is if you want the 12.9” screen.
It feels like Apple is potentially painting itself into a bit of a corner at the moment, and it’s because they’re making such superb products. For instance, my M1 MacBook Air has completely replaced my iPad Pro, and I suspect that’s the same for lots of other people.
Is Apple worried that a more wholesome refresh of the iPad mini will cannibalise something else? The iPhone 12 Pro Max, maybe? Or will it blur the line between the mini and the Air so comprehensively that most will opt for the lower-priced device?
There have even been reports suggesting the new iPad Pros will feature performance that matches the M1, which begs the question: where does that leave the M1 for people who want the most powerful mobile computing platform Apple can offer?
It’s all getting a bit confusing, right?
Apple’s lack of interest in updating the iPad mini may simply be because they’re acutely aware of how bloated and confusing their product line could become. Arguably, it’s not far off that already.
But, once again, I think this points towards deeper issues with their naming conventions, odd spec options and insistence on continuing to use the word ‘Pro’ for products that don’t really suit it.
Maybe someone at Apple needs to head back to the whiteboard and draw another four-quadrant grid?
I need to counter all of the above with the fact that this remains a rumour; Sonny Dickson’s tweet may feature dummy models that’ll never see the light of day.
I damn hope so.