Apple announces new iPad mini 6 along with iPhone 13

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There’s finally a new iPad mini. Two and a half years after introducing the iPad mini 5, Apple unveiled the sixth generation 8″ tablet at their “California Streaming” event this week. Some had worried that the smallest iPad model, long the most popular option for pilots, might be going away but this update should ensure its survival for at least a few more years. Here’s a look at what’s new.

The iPad mini 6 is both a big update and a modest one. Unlike the iPad mini 4 to 5 update, this is more than just an internal component change—it looks different. The latest generation case features squared off edges, much like the latest iPad Pro and Air models, which feels solid and has been well-received by pilots. The screen is also larger (8.3″ compared to 7.9″) and is what Apple calls a Liquid Retina display. This edge-to-edge format is a step up but it’s worth noting that the screen brightness is the same (500 nits) and features the same antireflective coating, so we wouldn’t expect the in-airplane performance to be much different.

That’s not the case with the processing power. The iPad mini 6 uses the latest generation A15 Bionic chip, which is a major boost compared to the A12 Bionic chip on the mini 5. Quantifying performance upgrades is always tough, but it’s fair to say this is a significant step up in processing speed and should be noticeable for high end features like synthetic vision. If nothing else, buying the latest processor is good protection against the tablet becoming obsolete.

A few other details could matter for pilots, including the new USB-C power port. This matches the trend of the latest iPad Pro and Air models, but marks a break from the iPad mini 1-5, which included a lightning connector. The mini 6 has a Touch ID sensor on the power button, not Face ID as you’d find on an iPad Pro (and which some people expected to see). This isn’t a major tradeoff, and was likely done to keep the price down. There’s a new 5G modem on the cellular models for faster data connectivity, plus better front and rear cameras, and improved speakers. It also works with the second generation Apple Pencil, a stylus that magnetically clips on the side of the iPad. We’ve used this on iPad Pros over the last few years and it is a viable option for copying clearances in flight.

The overall dimensions are different from the iPad mini 5, but not by much: the iPad mini 6 is 0.3″ shorter, but width, depth, and weight are the same. That means most universal mounts and kneeboards will work with the new model quite well, but custom fit mounts (like the RAM EZ Roll’r) will need a new cradle. Pricing is a bit higher, at $499 for 64GB of storage and $649 for 256GB, or $649 and $799 if you want LTE. These are still very competitive prices, for the performance, and make the mini 6 a pretty good value. It’s essentially an iPad Air 4 in a smaller size. You can learn more at Apple’s website.

One thing that was quite noticeable during Apple’s presentation was the prominent role aviation played in it. Pilots are specifically mentioned in the company’s press release on the iPad mini 6, and the media kit includes a screenshot of ForeFlight. The livestream also showed pilots using the tablet in flight. Many have joked that aviation was the industry keeping the iPad mini around—maybe it’s true.

In addition to the iPad mini 6, the event also featured a new “basic iPad” (now on generation 9). This is a modest update, mostly featuring a processor upgrade—Apple claims the A13 Bionic chip inside is 20% faster. But most of the other features are the same: it still has a home button, it still has a lightning connector, and still works with the first generation Apple Pencil. The physical size is identical, so all existing cases and mounts should work with the iPad 9. Pricing is $329 for 64GB of storage—that’s double the storage for the same price as the iPad 8—making this a great starter iPad.

And of course there was a new iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 to show off. This was another minor update overall, with the same case as the iPhone 12 but with a brighter display (800 nits) on the 6.1″ and 5.4″ screens and the new A15 chip. Of course there are better cameras, as well as a boost to battery life (2.5 hours longer than 12). The iPhone 13 mini starts at $699, and the iPhone 13 starts $799. There’s also a new top-of-the-line iPhone 13 Pro with a brighter screen, faster graphics, better cameras, and 1.5 hours longer battery life than the iPhone 12 Pro. Prices start at $999 for the 13 Pro and $1099 for the large screen 13 Pro Max.

Rounding out the event was the Apple Watch Series 7. This features the same basic shape as previous generations, but with rounded corners and larger text. It also offers 18 hours of battery life, a more durable and crack-resistant screen, but there are no new health sensors as some suspected. The Watch Series 7 starts at $399, and the Series 3 stays around for $199.

44 replies
    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Mostly the screen (higher refresh rate), the camera (telephoto lens, some other goodies), and a few materials (stainless steel vs. aluminum). Same chip and same size.

  1. PD
    PD says:

    It’s nice that Apple is updating the “Mini.” The A15 chip will be able to “digest” all the new applications that will surely be released in the next year.

    As for the iPhone 13, either get a “on-sale” 12, or wait until the next iteration — the 14.

  2. Paul Koch
    Paul Koch says:

    I use the iPad mini 5 and 1st generation Apple pencil to mark up approach plates, copy ATIS & clearances, etc. I also use a lightning-to-SDcard adapter with the SD cards in the G1000 (e.g. to upload flight data). I don’t see a compelling reason to upgrade to the new version. The brightness is the same, and I’d have to get 2 new accessories.

    If I still had a mini 4, I’d be placing an order.

  3. Rick Bosshardt
    Rick Bosshardt says:

    Nice update on the new iPad mini, but you forgot to mention a BIG item: Does the new iPad, non-LTE version, have a built in GPS receiver?
    My old iPad doesnt, and therefore I cannot use it as a backup to my panel mounted GPS, since it doesnt have its own GPS source. (My old one is not cell enabled either).
    I dont really need or want to have to pay for another cell line if I buy the LTE version, nor pay the extra $150 for a feature I wont use. What I really want is an independent GPS receiver in the plane, in the iPad, without it being the LTE version.
    Ive heard rumors that the new one does have GPS, without LTE, but I was hoping you would speak to it.
    Any info?
    Thx, Rick

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      As far as I know, none of the WiFi-only iPads have a GPS. You need to buy the LTE version to get that built-in.

      • Richard G
        Richard G says:

        I cringe when people call LTE signals GPS. They are not GPS. Not even part of the system. Important to know for many reasons…
        If GPS is being jammed… LTE might likely still work, depending on how far off the receiver frequency is, and what the military might be jamming.

        • Clifton
          Clifton says:

          Why cringe? I didn’t see any posts about confusing LTE and GPS. The fact is that the WiFi-only models DO NOT possess built-in GPS/GNSS – only the Wi-Fi + Cellular models do. Am I missing something here?

          Please clarify.

        • Karl M
          Karl M says:

          A GPS/GNSS (or GLONASS) receiver is built into the cellular radio chip (no longer LTE, it is now 5G on the new iPads), hence the need for the cell version to receive satellite based positional information. If GPS is being jammed you may still get GLONASS information to provide position as the Russian/Soviet system uses different signal frequencies. But you may not as both could be jammed. You can get GPS data into the iPad via one of several available GPS receivers available, but the extra $150 to have a back-up GPS capability makes sense for many pilots in case of other equipment failure not involving signal jamming.

    • You've never needed the cell service to get the GPS, just the Ipad has to have the cell service capbility. I've had 3 over the years, never have I had cell service but I've always had GPS built in.
      You've never needed the cell service to get the GPS, just the Ipad has to have the cell service capbility. I've had 3 over the years, never have I had cell service but I've always had GPS built in. says:

      Dan Valle

      • Richard G
        Richard G says:

        It is misguided to call LTE equipped phones or iPads ‘GPS’. They are definitely NOT GPS. GPS is the ‘global’ satellite navigation system. It works ‘globally’.
        LTE is just low power close range LORAN. LTE does not give you correct altitude information, and poor location information depending on cell phone service in the area.

        • Clifton
          Clifton says:

          OK. After reading this post from you, Richard, I see you are a little bit confused. I am just trying to clarify it for you and others who may be confused as well.

          The Wi-Fi only models do not have built-in GPS/GNSS technology. Apple decided to put that capability only in the models that includes cellular service.

          Like Dan said, you can purchase the cellular model and not connect it. And, because the GPS/GNSS is built into that model, you will still be able to receive the GPS signal. Cellular service is not needed to have GPS.

          I hope this clears things up.

        • John Zimmerman
          John Zimmerman says:

          To reiterate, the GPS is totally separate from LTE. It’s just that the GPS chip comes with the LTE radio. So you can turn off LTE (never even sign up for service) and you’ll still get GPS position. It may not be quite as robust as a Sentry GPS, for example, but it is a real GPS.

          • Richard G
            Richard G says:

            I don’t know where this idea came from, but if you are in a location where there is no cell signal, the so called GPS doesn’t work.
            There isn’t a satellite gps signal receiver inside anything Apple.
            When you turn off LTE you are no longer transmitting LTE, but if your Apple product is turned on, it is still receiving LTE signal for NAV, not a satellite GPS signal.

          • John Zimmerman
            John Zimmerman says:

            Sorry Richard but that simply isn’t true. There is a GPS chip in the iPad models with cellular. The LTE can augment the GPS in an area with poor satellite reception (like a big city), but it is completely independent. You can look at an iPad teardown video to see this, but it’s also proven by tens of thousands of hours in the air by many pilots. Every day pilots are using an iPad with a built-in GPS to fly – even at 36,000 feet far away from a cell tower. I’ve personally done a lot of flying with iPads that never even activated the cell service.

            More here:

          • Richard G
            Richard G says:

            John, I’m not sure where you got your GPS information from, but it is wrong. I tested it in open sky.
            It is exactly why I purchased a Bad Elf GPS from Sporty’s
            Who ever to.did you it was augmented GPS is dancing around the truth. It does work as a location system, but only like the old ground based Loran (only with many more transmitter sites.
            I’m a radar, navigation and communication specialist that worked for the FAA on sat comm systems.
            Not trying to cause a controversy. You will not see any official documentation from Apple that says they have GPS satellite receivers in their products.

          • Pat Mc
            Pat Mc says:

            Richard; Apples current website describing the specs for a WiFi/cellular iPad shows two location services in addition to those available for the non-cellular models. Those are GPS/GNSS & the other is cellular. These are listed on separate lines.

        • Ken
          Ken says:

          Richard – the cellular capable unit works just fine for gps. I have flown with one for many years. Never lost coverage (except when it overheated a couple of times in the sun). Not sure why you are so adamant about the LTE chipset. The GPS enabled units, which require cell capability, but not a cellular contract, just work. Period.

    • Bruce
      Bruce says:

      Just because you buy a cellular capable Mini doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to a carrier. I use my iPhone as a hotspot if I want to use my iPad on the internet when not around WiFi (my iPad is cellular capable, has GPS, but not subscribed to a carrier).

  4. Gene Woods
    Gene Woods says:

    I ordered a mini 6 right after the announcement. I am upgrading from a mini 5 mostly for the screen size. I anticipate seeing an approach plate will be better. I’ll probably keep my 5 as a back up.

  5. George Noren
    George Noren says:

    Need to see a side-by-side features comparison of the Mini 5 and 6 before I upgrade.
    Processor, memory, screen size, screen quality/resolution, battery life, sunlight readable ?? etc.
    Need more particulars about the new screen.
    Hard to beat the Mini 5 as a ForeFlight user and as a general use tablet.
    Enjoy the iPad news etc, from Sporty’s. Thank you.

  6. Richard G
    Richard G says:

    I thought Apple knew mostly pilots were using these smaller iPads for navigation charts. The one thing I immediately noticed was the missing finger print reader. This permits a pilot to open the iPad without ‘looking’ at it. Imagine having to unlock your iPad by swing your head around and plant your face in front of a mounted iPad…. While trying to fly a plane by hand… sounds like a real killer of an idea…

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      This mini 6 does have the finger print reader – it’s just on the power button at the top right corner, not the old home button.

      • Richard G
        Richard G says:

        That is good to know. I didn’t see one. I might upgrade my iPad mini. Just so you know, Apple doesn’t use real GPS satellite receivers. I have been in areas where the LTE ‘receive’ signal was lost and NAV for phone or anything iPad is lost.
        This isn’t a bad thing. It is actually a good thing. The separate LTE cell site receive signal can still be used for navigation if the real GPS satellite signal is being jammed.
        The only issue there is the new LTE signal bands are so close to the real GPS signal band it will likely get jammed too. (There is a national security reason for this)

        • Pat Mc
          Pat Mc says:

          Cellular iPads have real GNSS receivers that receive both GPS & even Glonass signals. In addition to satellite receivers Apple’s iPads & iPhones have access to other positioning sources which they can and do use to position the units. However navigation is more than knowing where you are it also requires knowing where other things are. This makes the navigation software (app) an important component to the navigation process. All this works to provide the displayed position of your unit and what ever else you are interested in navigation around or to. Bottom line iPads with cellular do have satellite GPS receivers.

        • Alan
          Alan says:

          This dude doesn’t know what he is talking about, supposedly a specialist confusing LORAN with LTE, then says no iPads have real GPS receivers. Not sure under which rock he’s been living but matter of fact: Cellular + WiFi models have dedicated GPS receivers, it’s a combined chip. I have one so would know. Not as sensitive and accurate as a Bad Elf or similar but it does work without cellular reception, provided using a proper app with maps installed.

          How could you use LTE towers approximate locations to navigate. No jeepers go talk crap elsewhere mate.

  7. Andy Meranda
    Andy Meranda says:

    I have a Mini 5 in a Pivot case. The Mini 6 will need a new Pivot case since the old one won’t fit. It usually takes a while for the new Pivot case to be available and it’s expensive, so I would wait until it’s available before buying a Mini 6. I like the Pivot case since it’s lower profile than most other systems using a yoke mount and doesn’t block the view of the instruments in my airplane. It would be valuable to know if the Mini 6 is more resistant to thermal shutdown than the Mini 5 when it’s in a Pivot case in hot weather.

  8. bob
    bob says:

    Incorrectly stated in article: it still has a lightning connector (USB-C only), and still works with the first generation Apple Pencil (only works with 2nd gen pencils).

  9. Curtis S
    Curtis S says:

    I’ve used two different iPad Pro tablets (last two generations) and find the gps performance very poor. My previous iPad was much better. I thought initially it was the aircraft (C510) but noticed exactly the same thing in a 172 recently. I’m hoping newer ones are better?

    • Richard G
      Richard G says:

      So you understand, GPS is a ‘global positioning system’, key word ‘global’, that uses satellites and ground WAAS tower sites transmitting signals on a specific frequency and channels that no cell phone or iPad can receive.

      iPhones and iPads (if LTE equipped) use cell phone towers to transmit and receive data. That system is not ‘global’ for now. The iPhones and iPads do not have a satellite GPS signal reliever inside them. When you turn off, or never activate LTE cell service, the iPad or iPhone still receives the signals transmitted from cell phone towers for navigation. For now, all of these cell towers are ground based, and don’t have good coverage in some areas. I have lost navigation on both iPad and iPhone in some areas of the world. The quality of the cell signal directly effects your navigation ability if you don’t use something external like a Bad Elf, Sentry, or Stratus GPS receiver and WiFi or Bluetooth that data to your iPhone or iPad.
      The fact all the cell towers are on the ground, your altitude data will be limited if you only use the internal iPad LTE cellphone receiver.

      Another fun fact, even if you turn your iPhone or iPad off, it’s receiver can be remotely ‘pinged’ over the entire cell network, and turned on if it has LTE signal receiver (unless stored in a RFI bag). This is why they made the batteries so they could not be removed.

      • Curtis S
        Curtis S says:

        From the December 28, 2015 Sport’s ipad pilot news:

        So “assisted GPS,” far from being a cheap version of GPS or an Apple marketing line, is actually a good thing. By using all the other sensors on the iPad, the GPS performance is improved. Make no mistake: the 3G/LTE iPad has a real GPS built-in.

        And it actually does have a real gps built in – it just doesn’t work as well as the old one did.
        The old iPad Air worked great for position 100+ miles from cell towers, but the iPad Pros are accurate about 30% of the time anywhere.

      • Bill Hanks
        Bill Hanks says:

        Richard, enough with the “iPads don’t have real GPS” malarky. Yes they do!…and a GLONASS receiver! At least the versions with the Cellular capability have it (whether you subscribe to the cellular service or not). The chip in the iPad on which the GPS/GLONASS receiver resides does other functions like LTE reception, but that doesn’t mean you can’t receive GPS signals straight from outer space if you don’t have cell phone service available (even if you don’t subscribe to it). In another post you said ” if you are in a location where there is no cell signal, the so called GPS doesn’t work.” Not so, for that would be the case in flight…and it works in flight as evidenced by most iPad EFB users. Sure, you can use the services of an off-board GPS receiver like Bad Elf or a Bluetooth connected Garmin GTX 345 ADS-B (in/out) transponder. Those GPS navigation receivers probably provide better GPS accuracy, but how much accuracy do you really need for an own-ship depiction on your iPad map? iPads with the optional Cell Phone service do have GPS receivers onboard, and they work even when you haven’t subscribed to the cell phone service or if it is in an area with no cell phone coverage (like in flight).

  10. Douglas T
    Douglas T says:

    How far does the magnetized ipen and ipad6 need to be kept from the magnetic compass? Note the problem is greater when they are separated.

  11. Brad T
    Brad T says:

    FYI – This article states iPad Mini 6 has a home buttton. It does not, you have to swipe up like the newer iPhones. Also if you are using ForeFlight in portrait mode you loose 1 instrument button at the bottom of the screen. 5 shown vs 6 instruments shown on the Mini 5, I have booth (unless someone knows how to fix this, I haven’t figured it out yet).

    None of the above are deal breakers but a little irritating if you are used to the older models or use both.

    Ram mount X Grip works fine on old and new as well as iPhone.

    I think the GPS point has been beat to death but without a cell version you have nothing integrated either way. I can not recall ever truly testing, but it will be easy to verify at altitude above cell range if you question its capabilities.

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