Apple’s Spring Loaded event came and went without the mention of a new iPad Mini – one of the new products heavily rumoured to arrive.

Instead we got the release of an AirTag tracker, fancy new iPad Pro 2021 with a Mini LED display and a gloriously colourful iMac with an M1 chip. It looks as though the rumours of a next-gen mini tablet will continue in the run-up to Apple’s next event. But is anything actually pushing Apple to spend time developing another iPad Mini? It’s not like there’s much competition.

The very few high-end Android best tablets that exist are mostly large units designed to compete with Apple’s iPad Air 4. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, for example, is big, expensive and there isn’t a compact edition with similar features.

If you’re looking for a smaller tablet (and I am talking sub 9-inches here) then you don’t have that much choice, and the ones you do have are mainly budget options designed for basic content consumption.

Amazon’s Fire tablet range is the king of the small tablet and while they’re mostly decent they feel cheap, have average screens and lack the App ecosystem you get on iPad. There are some other budget options from Samsung too.

Without any big competition, there’s very little pushing Apple to really innovate its smallest tablet and that’s lead to a product that could be so much better than it is.

There is clearly an appetite for another small iPad. Our iPad Mini 6 page garnered huge interest during the Spring Loaded event so it certainly seems like people are interested in a modern version of one of Apple’s most-loved slates.

I can certainly see where this love comes from, as I still find the iPad Mini 5 an incredibly useful little tool. Its squatter aspect ratio makes it far superior to even the iPhone 12 Pro Max for reading websites, magazines or comics. It’s far roomier too, making it much better for games. Pair up a PS5 controller, get yourself an invite to the Xbox Game Pass streaming feature and the iPad Mini turns into a very good portable gaming system. The 7.9-inch screen might not sound too much bigger than the largest iPhone’s 6.7-inch panel, but the difference is clear in use.

There was plenty of rumours ahead of Apple’s event that we’d finally see an iPad Mini that boasted an updated design, possibly shifting away from the look we’ve had since the original model was released all those years ago. There were hints of an iPad Pro-like design, though others suggested it would simply pack a larger screen and hopefully a newer chipset.

There are of course plenty of more chances for an iPad Mini 6 to make an update this year. But, without strong competition there’s very little pushing Apple to make it the very best it can be.

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