The new iPad mini could actually be a sensible replacement for an iPhone

The 6th gen iPad mini now comes with 5G and a great screen, so could it actually replace my phone?

Apple iPad mini
(Image credit: Apple)

The 6th generation iPad mini was announced during this week’s big Apple event, which also saw the launch of the iPhone 13. The device has had a substantial redesign, giving it a new all-new 8.3-inch liquid retina screen without increasing the size of the device. Crucially, in addition to the Wi-Fi-only model, it is now available in a cellular model, with 5G connectivity. It's a brilliant device, and you can read our full iPad mini (6th Gen) review here.

This got me thinking as to what I really use my phone for, and making calls is probably the thing I do least. I use my phone to take photos, browse the news, order things online, check social media and send emails. When I do chat with friends and family, it’s normally through Whatsapp or FaceTime, and occasionally messages – for my US friends that don’t use Whatsapp. The only time I really get a call is when it’s some marketing or robocall.

Voice calls can now be made through a range of apps, and Apple devices, such as iPads and MacBooks can be used for Wi-Fi calling to make and receive calls through FaceTime. So, if I still have a 5G connection from an iPad, do I need a phone at all?

iPad Mini

(Image credit: Apple)

The one thing you probably do still need is a phone contract that gives you a phone number. Apps like Whatsapp require one and lots of companies ask for a phone number for things like two-step authorization and deliveries. But if you have an old iPhone, you can leave your SIM card in that and just take your iPad with you. If you want to access Wi-Fi calling, you’ll need to keep the phone with a SIM card on and close by, but for FaceTime and Whatsapp calls, you don’t need to even have the phone turned on.

Google Voice also allows you to make and receive calls through its app, and you can even set up a new number for it. This service – currently only available in the US – works just like your normal phone app, complete with voicemail and messages.

For all other functions, the iPad works the same way as the phone, so you can browse, email and shop as normal – just from a bigger screen.

Mat Gallagher
Mat Gallagher

As T3's Managing Editor in the US, Mat is a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, cars, music or travel. Originally from the UK, he has written about technology since 2003 and is now based in Chicago.