Apple's sixth-gen iPad mini gets USB-C and an all-screen design

The smallest iPad is getting a serious upgrade.

iPad Mini 6th-gen (Apple)

After two and a half years without a refresh, Apple is at long last revamping the iPad mini. The 8.3-inch device has slimmer bezels and rounded corners, and it leaves no space for a physical Home button. As with last year's iPad Air, you'll now find the Touch ID sensor in the power button.

The Lightning port is gone too, with a USB-C port taking its place. The port offers data transfer speeds of up to 5Gbps, as well as connectivity with a broader range of devices, including cameras and external 4K displays.

Apple has moved the volume buttons to the top of the tablet, which runs on iPadOS 15, and there's an intriguing reason for that: The latest model can accommodate a second-gen Apple Pencil. You can attach the peripheral magnetically to the side of the iPad Mini.

The screen is a liquid retina display with 500 nits of brightness, a P3 wide color gamut, anti-reflective screen coating, True Tone and full lamination. The iPad Mini now has stereo speakers, so watching video on it could be much better this time around.

The tablet is powered by a new A15 Bionic chip. Apple says the chip can deliver up to 80-percent faster performance than the previous iPad mini, with the six-core CPU offering a 40-percent performance boost and the five-core GPU delivering up to 80 percent better graphics performance.

The company says the tablet's machine learning (ML) capabilities have improved too, with a 16-core neural engine and ML accelerators capable of running tasks twice as quickly as the fifth-gen tablet. Among the ML capabilities are on-device recognition of text in photos, and the ability to translate that into seven different languages.

The camera system is getting an upgrade as well, with iPad Pro's Center Stage experience coming to iPad mini, so you'll stay in frame as you move around while on a video call. The front-facing camera now has a 12MP sensor, as does the rear camera, which also has a larger aperture than in the past and a True Tone flash.

On the connectivity front, there's WiFi 6 support and models with 5G. Apple's continuing to support Gigabit LTE and eSIM too.

Apple has created a new $59 Smart Folio cover for iPad mini with colors (black, white, dark cherry, English lavender and electric orange) to match the tablet's new finishes.

The new iPad mini is available in purple, pink, starlight and space grey. It starts at $499 for the WiFi-only model and $649 for cellular connectivity, each with 64GB of storage. Pre-orders are open now, and the tablet will be available starting on September 24th in 28 countries and regions.

Meanwhile, Apple updated the entry-level iPad with an A13 Bionic chip.

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