I know, the title here makes no sense to some. The iPad mini is tablet. The iPhone Pro Max is more of the Swiss army knife of the mobile world - it can do a lot. You can do a lot with it on the go. The Max can do it all. It is why is has garnered the most attention year after year during Apple events. The Max is the device that is evident from the billions of R&D Apple poured into it. While that is great, I think it is time to evaluate its use from consumption and productivity points of view. And in my mind, even my iPad mini 5 and the just released 2021 iPad mini has a lot to bring to the gaming, reading and viewing videos for content consumption while productivity is where is shines for a vast majority of users.
I guess I'm suggesting that unless you need the latest and best of the Max features, the iPad mini brings a lot to the game and could be the option to go with if you're looking for a device with a bigger screen than the Max but not quite want to carry around the bigger 10 to 12.5 inches version.
Before we continue about why the iPad mini might be a better option for consumption and productivity, let's address features that are missing form the mini that the Max boasts. The mini battery lasts up to 10 hours. Maybe 12 hours if you turn on the power saving mode. On my aging mini 5, the feature has been helped me a lot during gaming and switching between apps that run in the background. If there is one thing that would have me ordering the new mini would have been a longer battery life. I do not understand why Apple has not increased the battery life on the iPad line while the battery life of the iPhones and MacBooks has created by leaps and bounds over the years. The 10-hour limit on the iPads is so pre-2010 and it has fallen behind those of Android and Chrome tablets that range from 12-15 hours. It makes sense that Apple can increase the battery life on the iPads and will at some point but no one knows why it has not done so yet. I will not venture a guess as to why that is.
The other issue is the camera. The iPad mini camera is bad and the camera on the iPad mini 2021 is a better improvement but it lacks those of the Max. And it makes no sense that Apple would put the latest and greatest camera on the mini or even the iPad Pro. Probably like the battery issue I mentioned above, cost is an issue and differentiation between devices is essential for Apple. Speaking to the camera on the iPad mini 2021, let's just say that people appreciate Apple even improved it at all. Reading through about eight or so tech reviews on the mini, the camera was given a paragraph's mention while only a couple provide sample photos taken by the mini. That shows just how much expectation people has for the mini with respect to the camera.
With that out of the way, the iPad mini truly is outstanding as a mobile device. People generally think that smaller means less power and features omitted. With the iPad mini Apple just released, it is equipped with the latest A15 chip that also powers the iPhone 13 and benchmarks shows that it is one of the fastest chip out there - not just the fastest Apple chip but in the entire computing world. It will have staying power for years. Even now with my iPad mini 5, released in 2019, with the A12 chip that powered the iPhone XS and the popular XR that was only discontinued this fall, it feels every bit as speedy as it was running whatever iOS it came with. I read books on there, write articles, play games, make calls/FaceTime, and even began coding with it (learning to my way into some programming languages and hope to build my own AI one day).
The only regret I have is that I did not get mine with cellular modem. At the time when I bought it, I thought I would only use it for reading books and comics and gaming. I had a cellular iPad Pro that I was using for productivity and work. Eventually, I came to like the mini size more. With the new iPad mini screen coming in at 8.3” and nearly the same size, it is only better.
Some might argue that the iPad mini screen is too small for productivity. I disagrees. Perhaps some compromises might have to be made but I think with a little imagination and motivation, it would work perfectly. The same can be said of a device of any screen size but for me, the mini stands at the crossroad between smartphones and tablets. The mini was a phablet before there were phablets.
I would like Apple to make a few improvements but I will save that for another time - my own version of click-baiting if you will. I will likely hold onto to my green iPhone 12 mini for another year because it just that good. I am going to use my iPad mini a bit longer as well until I become more apt with coding and then I can reward myself with the iPad mini 6 later. But even if I do decide to use my iPad mini 5 until the iPad mini 7 comes out (Apple is not likely to released a new mini on an annual basis), it would still continue to do just about everything I expect it to do running iPadOS 16 and 17.