Apple’s iPad Mini is an unrivaled portable tablet

If you know me and my work, you’re aware I write a lot about Android smartphones; I’ve been critiquing the devices for years. In particular, I’ve loved and reviewed the HTC U12+, the Huawei P30 Pro, the Pixel 4 XL and, most recently, the S23 Ultra.

While all these devices hold a special place in my heart for one reason or another, I’ve slowly grown attached to Apple’s iPhone over the past few years and, as of late, the iPhone 14 Pro. However, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant has yet to release a foldable, which is a shame since I love big screens (and I cannot lie).

Devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Fold 4 have been my favourite smartphones in recent years. A 7.6-inch screen that folds is a dream, but since Apple’s ecosystem has claimed my soul, I’m stuck with the iPhone 14 Pro’s 6.7-inch display. Don’t get me wrong, the screen is undeniably solid, but I spend a lot of time reading and watching content on my smartphone, so a bigger display works better for me.

This is where Apple’s 6th-gen iPad mini comes in.

Let’s start with a brief story.

A few months ago, MobileSyrup‘s Brad Bennett and I were on our way to New York City for an event. At the airport, I start writing an article on my phone, and Brad pulls out a small tablet with a gorgeous 8.3-inch display and starts working on it. It was love at first sight; I immediately asked him about the device, which he explained was the latest iPad mini he reviewed for MobileSyrup back in 2021. I have a depth of knowledge about Android devices, but I’m still finding my footing in the Apple world, which is why this device completely flew under my radar.

Of course, I had to get the iPad mini for myself and try it out. Now, I’ve spent a couple of months with Apple’s 2021 iPad mini so far, and it’s one of my favourite devices I’ve ever used.

The perfect small tablet

Apple’s iPad mini features an 8.3-inch 60Hz LCD display with a 1488 x 2268 pixel resolution, and while these aren’t the best display specs out there, they’re good enough for games, streaming and reading.

While this won’t be the case for everyone — and not even for all my pants due to its total size (195.4 x 134.8 x 6.3 mm) — the tablet fits snuggly in my jeans pocket. I find this incredibly useful. When travelling, it’s not yet another device I have to store in my bag. I can quickly put it in my pocket, and I’m off. I’ve found how pocketable the iPad mini is very useful when taking the subway, street car, an Uber, or on a flight.

I also have a larger 10.2-inch 2021 iPad, but in terms of pure utility, I definitely find the iPad mini better.

Larger tablets defeat the purpose of portability. Though they’re still lighter than a laptop, they take up the same amount of space, so whenever I’d be in a situation where I could bring my larger iPad, I’d just take my laptop instead. The iPad mini, on the other hand, isn’t a replacement for a MacBook. Still, because of its portability, it’s a lot easier to bring around in my pocket, or when it can’t fit, I lug it around in my jacket, side bags or practically anything else. Further, if I plan to use it for work, I can take a wireless keyboard with me.

Not a phone replacement 

I’m not saying you should buy an iPad mini instead of a smartphone, because you shouldn’t. The tablet is small, but not that small. But the iPad mini is my favourite smartphone companion. I usually walk around with my iPad when I’m home unless I have to make a phone call or send many messages, or I carry both devices — one for messaging and the other for reading or playing games.

That’s not to say you can’t also send messages on the iPad or make phone calls via FaceTime, but the large screen is a bit awkward for texting or calling (thankfully, I don’t take video calls often). It’s worth noting that you might not have issues texting with the iPad mini given Brad Bennett has no problems sending messages with the tablet.

Even though the iPad can feature cellular service, I still wouldn’t replace my phone with a small tablet. The iPad mini is, however, the perfect-sized tablet and the device to buy while waiting for Apple to release a foldable iPhone.

I also like that it’s so versatile. I can play games, read, watch content, and do anything an iPhone can. This is why I prefer the iPad over something like an e-reader.

The best small tablet

You still have iMessage, FaceTime and other benefits of an iPhone, alongside the ability to watch content on apps like Netflix and Crave and read with Kobo, Play Books, Apple Books and other apps. I love to play games like Pokémon Unite because of the tablet’s larger display that’s still not too big.

The iPad mini with 64GB of storage costs $679, which is far more affordable than most other comparable devices, including larger tablets, laptops, smartphones and foldables.

One day, if Apple makes a foldable device, it might replace the iPad mini, but until then, this is the tablet for me.

Photography by Brad Bennett 

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