It looks like there's set to be a new version of the iPad mini – at last! – later in 2021, and a report from 9to5Mac has laid out some of the key new specs we can expect from it, but with one massive exception.
The headline upgrades are that it will use the Apple A15 chip that's expected to be debut in the iPhone 13, it will add USB-C connectivity, and it will feature the Smart Connector found on the iPad Air (2020) and iPad Pro (2021).
9to5Mac's source doesn't seem to explicitly corroborate the idea that the new model will arrive this year, but there has often been an iPad launch between the iPhone September launch and Christmas, so we wouldn't be at all surprised by it happening this year.
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These specs are pretty much exactly what I'd expected and hoped for. The A15 means it'll be a pocket powerhouse for creative apps (and hopefully indicates that 5G is on the cards too), while the USB-C connection means it can easily connect to a big range of external accessories, just as the current USB-C iPads can.
It also strongly suggests that the iPad mini will have a design that mirrors the current iPad Air and Pro, with small bezels, flat sides and rounded corners on the screen – and the addition of a Smart Connector ties into that. Though what the Smart Connector will be used for remains a bit of a mystery, because at the moment it's essentially for keyboard cases and that's it. And the iPad mini is a bit small for something like the Magic Keyboard – perhaps an ultra-small keyboard case is on the way, which will be interesting to try.
There's no mention of Apple Pencil 2 support, but I'd also expect that to come along with it, since it'll be impossible for it to work with the original Apple Pencil without a Lightning port.
What about the screen?
But the thing I'm most desperate to know is the screen size, and that's sadly missing from this report.
It's long been expected that the iPad mini should shift to the new design, but when the smaller iPad Pro model and iPad Air switch to new look, they both also increased slightly in size and resolution.
Will the iPad mini do that too? From 7.9 inches to around 9 inches perhaps? It'd be a significant boost in area, but could actually fit in a frame that's barely bigger than the current one (since there's lots of bezel to get rid of).
That's exactly what happened with the other iPads – larger screen, same size frame – so I think it's almost certainly what will happen, I just want to know the details!