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The iPad Mini 6 could be the best gaming tablet on the market this year

iPad Mini 6 gaming tablet
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has announced the iPad Mini 6, an 8.3-inch tablet hitting the shelves this September 24. 

Having largely ignored the Mini range of luxury tablets since 2019, Apple is going big on its latest release. With some impressive power under the hood, those looking for the best gaming tablet might not have to look much further than the iPad Mini 6. 

iPad Mini 6 pre-order information

Price: $499 / £479 / AU$749
US:
pre-order at Apple
UK:
pre-order at Apple
Release date:
September 24

Gaming on iPad is starting to take off. The powerful specs of the iPad Pro and Air 4 mean there's some serious grunt under the hood for the latest Apple Arcade titles, but the larger form factor always made portable play a little awkward. Without an updated version of its smaller tablet, Apple would be in trouble. Thank goodness for the iPad Mini 6, in other words.

It's arrived at the perfect time. Gaming tablets are still finding their feet in a handheld world dominated by the Nintendo Switch, mobile phone, and, soon, Valve's Steam Deck. Arcade might not offer the most comprehensive collection of the most powerful titles, but gaming is the main revenue driver for Apple's App Store, and it would take a lot for the hardware side of the business to ignore it for much longer.

The iPad Mini 6 proves that Apple's dinkier device is perhaps best positioned to fight in this arena head on.

iPad OS 15 gaming features are designed for a smaller display

iPadOS 15 will ship directly on the iPad Mini 6, bringing with it a new gamepad overlay open to use by any game developer using the App Store. The feature will have two control zones (configurable as thumbsticks, d-pad, or buttons) placed along the horizontal edge of the screen. Many games already make use of this design by themselves, but Apple building such a feature directly into its OS means things are starting to get serious. 

Anyone who has attempted to hold an iPad Air or iPad Pro in the grip that would be required here will know that these larger devices just weren't made to be used like this for long periods. While initially comfortable, the full weight of each tablet quickly becomes apparent.

The iPad Mini 6 measures at 195mm tall (just a little smaller than the previous model) 135mm and wide. That's a much smaller footprint designed to suit such a grip much better.

iPad Mini 6

(Image credit: Apple)

Not only that, but iPadOS 15 also brings PS5 DualSense adaptive trigger support and game capture functions to the iPad Mini 6. No other gaming tablets currently offer support for those super smart bumpers, and very few come with retroactive game capture support. 

iPads typically walk a fine line between productivity and entertainment purposes. In general, though, a larger screen means a better experience for both uses. When it comes to gaming on the go, though, pulling out a 12.9-inch iPad Pro may not be the most comfortable move.

The iPad Mini form factor is large enough to still feel like a big screen experience (at least compared to a smartphone or Nintendo Switch), but fits neatly into smaller bag pockets.

iPad Mini 6 uses Apple's latest silicon

Apple has detailed the specs of its latest A15 Bionic chip, and it looks like there's plenty to look forward to. The A15 is estimated to offer a 40% boost in CPU performance and 80% jump in its GPU over the previous model. That translates to faster game loading, better framerates, more detailed graphics (both up close and far away), and potentially the capacity for more complex, demanding titles. 

Packing all that power into a portable device with a battery life that still hits Apple's 10-hour quota is no mean feat. Sure, you're likely not getting the higher refresh rates of the 120Hz iPad Pro here, but for under $500, there's some serious value packed into this silicon. 

USB-C arrives

The iPad Mini 6 will ship with USB-C charging and accessory support. While that's nice for quickly juicing up your device on the go and transferring files from storage, it's in the world of keyboards and accessories that this feature really shines. 

Apple started supporting keyboards in its Arcade titles back with iPad OS 14 and iOS 14, which means the rollout across the service's biggest games is just getting started. However, we're seeing more and more titles taking advantage of keyboard support these days and if Apple's gaming plans continue as they've started it's likely there's plenty more in the future as well.

If you're looking for an even smaller screen, we're rounding up all the best gaming phones available right now. Or, take a look at the best gaming laptops for something with more dedicated gaming grunt.