The iPad mini 7 Is Coming, But Don’t Expect Too Much

iPad mini 6 2021 Credit: Apple
Text Size
- +

Toggle Dark Mode

If the length of time between upgrades is any kind of measuring stick, then we should soon see an update to Apple’s diminutive iPad mini. After all, it’s now just over two years since the iPad mini 6 debuted, and in that time, we’ve seen a new M1-powered iPad Air, a pair of M2-powered iPads Pro, and a new 10th-generation iPad that adopts the modern design.

This makes the iPad mini 6 the oldest iPad that Apple still sells, tied with the ninth-generation iPad — the one that still has a home button and a Lightning port. While it’s fair to say that the iPad mini hasn’t been a huge priority for Apple lately, it’s still fair to say it’s overdue for at least a basic refresh.

To be fair, the iPad mini 6 is still ahead of its lower-priced cousins. It packs in the same A15 chip used in the iPhone 14, whereas the 10th-gen iPad is powered by the older A14 chip from the iPhone 12 era. It also features the same laminated anti-reflective screen and P3 wide color gamut as the latest iPad Air and can handle the second-generation Apple Pencil.

Since 2019, the iPad mini has effectively sat in Apple’s mid-tier iPad lineup as a smaller counterpart to the iPad Air. The 2019 releases had nearly identical specs other than their obvious size differences; however, in 2020, the iPad Air pulled ahead with its new design, side-mounted Touch ID sensor, and A14 chip.

apple new ipad air ipad lineup 09152020

This began what seems to have been a leapfrogging trend, where the iPad Air and iPad mini get updated in alternating years. The 2021 iPad mini 6 — the current model — was updated in 2021 with an A15 chip and a new design, putting it slightly ahead of the iPad Air. However, that lead only lasted for about six months, with an early 2022 iPad Air surprising everyone by adopting Apple’s M1 chip from the Mac.

If that even-odd-year release trend continues, an iPad mini 7 could arrive any day now, with the biggest question being whether Apple will bring it back on par with the iPad Air by adopting an M1 chip or stick with its A-series silicon. If the latter, it would presumably be an A16 since it’s extremely unlikely Apple would put its flagship A17 Pro chip into a tablet that often seems like an afterthought for the company.

Similarly, if you were hoping for a big screen upgrade, we have some bad (but unsurprising) news. A post on X from @Tech_Reve shared by MacRumors reveals that the upcoming iPad mini “still doesn’t have 120Hz,” with the biggest (and perhaps only) change expected to be a new A-series processor.

The post also mentions the “jelly scrolling” issue, a common LCD-based scrolling problem that was somehow amplified on the iPad mini 6 display, leading to speculation that Apple may have been planning to adopt a 120Hz ProMotion display for its next iPad mini.

However, those theories always seemed like wishful thinking from the start. As the “Pro” in “ProMotion” implies, Apple reserves its best display technology for those devices that have the word “Pro” in them — the iPhone Pro, iPad Pro, and MacBook Pro (with one oddball exception).

Technology marches on, and what’s new eventually becomes standard. Hence, it seems inevitable that Apple’s non-Pro devices will someday receive faster 120Hz screens. However, this doesn’t seem to be a priority for Apple. Each year, we hear rumors of 120Hz displays coming to Apple’s standard iPhone models, and each year, they continue to be limited to the iPhone Pro.

If Apple were going to bring its 120Hz ProMotion display technology to a non-Pro device, the iPad mini would be a very unusual place for it to start. Even among iPads, the iPad Air would be a much more likely candidate. However, with the iPad Air entering the world of M-series Apple Silicon, the 120Hz ProMotion display is one of the few significant things that truly sets the iPad Pro models apart as devices built for pros.

If there’s any truth to the notion that an iPad mini may get a 120Hz display, it seems more reasonable that this would be a higher-tier model that would be to the iPad Pro what the current iPad mini is to the iPad Air. We’ve heard on-and-off rumors of an “iPad mini Pro” in the pipeline over the past few years, which could be where the reports of a 120Hz screen on the smaller iPad are coming from. However, things have been quiet on that front recently, so either Apple has a big surprise up its sleeve, or this was merely an idea the company was toying with that it decided not to move forward on.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

Social Sharing