Apple’s iPad has had unparalleled success since day one. The original iPad, which debuted in 2010, wasn’t the first tablet to hit the market, but it was the most polished. It was the perfect gadget to fit in between large, bulky laptops and small smartphones (the Galaxy Note didn’t come out until 2011). Over the next 7 years, the iPad would undergo several changes and branch off into various models. Today, the iPad exists in three main forms: the iPad Pro, the iPad, and the iPad mini.
During WWDC earlier this year, we learned that all three iPad Pro models and the regular iPad would receive major updates. Curiously, the iPad mini 4, which was released in 2015, wouldn’t receive any major hardware updates but would still sell in retail stores and online. It isn’t typical for Apple to leave the iPad mini untouched for so long; could this be the end of the line for the iPad mini?
Perhaps, but I’m not entirely convinced that there isn’t something more going on behind the scenes.
It’s true that the iPad mini’s original purpose is not as relevant as it once was. The first several iPads were quite hefty in retrospect, weighing around 1.3-1.5 lb each. The iPad mini was a significantly lighter option, weighing in at just over half a pound. It wasn’t until the iPad Air 2 that the 9.7-inch iPad would weigh under a pound; the 2017 iPad weighs just slightly over.
Despite the weight gap closing in between the 9.7-inch and the 7.9-inch iPads, the iPad mini’s size remains a solid selling point; after all, it’s still the most portable iPad variant out there, and it still manages to sell considerably well, likely because of its compact size.
From my perspective, the iPad mini is only missing a couple of things that I would like to see with the model: support for the Apple Pencil and a Smart Keyboard accessory, which means for that to happen, the iPad Mini would most likely need to join the iPad Pro line. You know, for consistency’s sake.
Adding a fourth size to the iPad Pro line might seem redundant, but the steps between the current iPad Pro models are already subtle as it is at 12.9, 10.5, and 9.7-inch sizes. However, since the 7.9-inch display is already established and has a solid following in the iPad Mini, it doesn’t seem too outlandish to think Apple might streamline and absorb it directly into the iPad Pro line-up.
Considering the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard are sold separately anyway, the price of a theoretical iPad Pro mini probably wouldn’t be much more expensive than the $399 it’s currently going for (albeit that price is for a 128GB model; I would imagine 32 or 64GB would be the base storage for a Pro model). That would make it a decent upgrade from the 2015 variant without making people feel as if they need to use the Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard if they don’t necessarily need those accessories.
I think losing the mini entirely would be a great loss. I use a Surface Book for the most part these days as it’s a decent all-in-one hybrid device, but I’m not fond of its 13.5-inch display in standalone mode. To this day, I consider the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 one of the best tablets I ever owned. The 8-inch display was small enough to be convenient to take just about anywhere, but it wasn’t too small. I also purchased a first-generation iPad mini around the same time, but switched back to the Note 8.0 once I realized how important proper stylus support was to me. Since the debut of the Apple Pencil, having an iPad Mini with top notch stylus support is possible – Apple just needs to implement the technology, but I can’t imagine they’d do it without going the whole nine yards and making it an official part of the Pro line.
It’s possible that we’ll never see another iPad mini, but I highly doubt that’s the case just yet.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the possibility of an iPad Pro mini? Do you think the iPad mini could use an upgrade to match the Pro line, or should it remain its more basic functionality?