Even Apple’s Upcoming iPad mini 6 Is Getting the Ultra-Powerful A15 Chip

iPad mini 6 Bottom Credit: Renders By Ian / Jon Prosser
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We’ve been expecting a new “iPad mini 6” for over a year now, and it looks like not only is it finally coming soon, but it could end up exceeding last year’s iPad Air 4 in performance.

According to sources that spoke with 9to5Mac, Apple plans to include its very latest A15 processor in its upcoming iPad mini — that’s the same chip that’s expected to power the entire iPhone 13 lineup.

To be fair, this move isn’t entirely unprecedented — Apple surprised us when it did the same thing with the A14 chip in last fall’s iPad Air 4. In fact, as a result of delays in the iPhone 12 launch, the iPad Air actually became the first device to be announced with Apple’s newest chip, although the company rather coyly waited to make it available until after the iPhone 12 had been announced.

Still, it was a surprising move considering that Apple’s flagship iPad Pro was still sporting the less impressive A12Z chip.

Of course, Apple more than rectified that with this year’s 2021 iPad Pro models, which made a quantum leap into M1 territory. For a few months, however, it was the mid-tier iPad Air that had the most powerful chip in Apple’s entire tablet lineup.

Now, it looks like that may at least partially repeat itself with this year’s sixth-generation iPad mini, bringing Apple’s long-neglected smaller iPad back in a really big way.

While there’s obviously no way that Apple’s A15 chip can be expected to outperform the M1 that’s now found in the iPad Pro, putting an A15 into the iPad mini would make it the most powerful non-Pro iPad on the market — assuming of course that Apple doesn’t also have a fifth-generation iPad Air in the works.

However, that seems doubtful, as we’ve heard next to nothing about any of Apple’s plans for standard-sized iPad models. Further, with few exceptions, Apple generally seems content with an 18-month release cycle for most of its higher-end iPad models. This means that we likely won’t see a new version of the full-sized iPad Air until sometime next year, which lines up with other reports we’ve heard recently.

The Powerful iPad mini 6

As for the sixth-generation iPad mini, we’ve already heard from a couple of reliable sources that it’s going to be the biggest redesign in the product’s history, quelling earlier rumours that it would only be a minor refresh.

While we still can’t entirely rule out the possibility that Apple might be working on an entry-level version as well, it’s starting to sound like that may have only been an idea that Apple was tossing around. Either way, it’s this redesigned iPad mini that’s going to be the only one that’s worth talking about.

Sources also reveal that the new iPad mini will feature a USB-C port, although this is less of a surprise if it’s going to be adopting the same design as the most recent iPad Air.

While Apple remains firm on the Lightning port in most of its devices, it’s acknowledged that with the higher-end iPad models blurring the line between tablets and laptops, they need the connectivity options to match.

Hence, it’s also not a big surprise that 9to5Mac says we’ll be getting the new Smart Connector as well. Although obviously, the smaller size of the iPad mini means it won’t automatically be compatible with accessories like the Magic Keyboard, this will open the door to a smaller version of that particular keyboard, or other accessories that could take advantage of the new connector.

Basically, there’s every reason to believe at this point that the “iPad mini 6” will follow in the footsteps of the 2019 models, where the iPad mini 5 was simply a smaller version of the iPad Air 3, with a design and specs that are otherwise identical.

If the reports of the smaller iPad gaining an A15 chip are true, however, then the specs won’t be quite the same, and for the first time in Apple history, its smallest tablet will have pulled out ahead of the rest of the pack.

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