A fresh new look isn’t the only change we’re expecting to see with the iPad mini this fall. According to a 9to5Mac report, the smallest iPad will be getting an A15 processor, USB-C, and a magnetic Smart Connector. This would be a significant boost in its processing power, but also means you could possibly use the teeniest iPad as a laptop replacement.
Citing anonymous Apple sources, 9to5Mac claims the A15 chip—which will also power the iPhone 13 lineup—will feature the same 5nm process tech as the A14. Another interesting tidbit is that Apple is purportedly working on an even beefier A15X variant. The fifth-gen iPad mini is powered by an A12 chip, which also powers the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, and the eighth-gen iPad and third-gen iPad Air. There have been several A-series chips since the A12 Bionic was introduced in 2018—the A12X, the A12Z, A13, and A14 to be exact—so this jump should be meaningful.
The move from 7nm to 5nm may not be super dramatic. It is a hint, however, that Apple has high hopes for the iPad mini redesign. According to 9to5Mac, Apple is planning on only upgrading the A12 in the entry-level iPad to an A13, which is not as huge a boost.
Adding USB-C and a Smart Connector is further evidence that Apple’s trying to give people more of a reason to pick smaller iPad. For starters, that opens the iPad mini up to a much wider array of peripherals and brings it more in line with the iPad Pro and iPad Air. The Smart Connector also hints that perhaps we might see a tiny little keyboard to go along with the tiny iPad.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg also reported that the iPad Mini was due for a significant redesign that would nix the home button and feature slimmer bezels. Because of those changes, reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says he expects the iPad mini’s display to jump from the current 7.9 inches to between 8.5 and 9 inches.
Bigger display, more compatibility with accessories and peripherals, a faster processor? These changes, plus the fact that iPadOS 15 will bring some nifty multi-tasking and productivity features? Sure looks like Apple’s trying real hard to sell us on the iPad mini as a work device. That’s hardly surprising. Apple has been working to make every iPad a more compelling buy, albeit with mixed results. Who knows? This might be just what Apple’s smallest tablet needs. After all, the iPad mini has been the awkward iPad of the bunch. Whether these updates will change that remains to be seen.