The new iPad Mini seems great even if you love Android

2021 iPad Mini
2021 iPad Mini (Image credit: Apple)

I've been an Android user since the first day the first Android phone became available, and I've been through many different devices. Of course, like many of you all, I've also owned and used iPhones, BlackBerrys, Windows phones, and all the rest of the "cool" tech because I just love cool tech.

I'm also very much a small phone guy because one of the most important things to me is how easy it is to carry something that basically lives inside my pocket. One of the reasons the Galaxy S21 is one of the best Android phones is because it's not gigantic, for example. The only time I wish my phone were bigger is when I want to veg out and just consume.

I just want to consume.

That's where tablets shine. Watching videos or playing games on something with a much larger screen is just better, ya know? Yes, I can use my phone and do those same things, and I won't try to say it's a bad experience because it's not. It's just not as good. I've been thinking about getting a smaller tablet to try it again, and Apple might just have shown me what I want in the 2021 iPad Mini.

No, I'm not some sort of "traitor" to the Android ecosystem because I owe zero allegiance to any tech company. I like the way Android works better than iOS does, but that's just me, and plenty of people feel differently. But I don't run out and buy a thing because some tech company made it. Every company needs to work for my dollars. And since Google is unwilling to remake the Nexus 7 with great new specs, I don't have a "favorite" tablet brand.

Nexus 7

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

I want a tablet for all the wrong reasons, according to the companies that make them. I have no desire to replace my PC or Chromebook with a Pro tablet. I'm not going to replace my phone with a cellular tablet just because it can make calls and get messages. I like the phone and Chromebook I use, and don't see how a tablet can replace either.

Since Google isn't going to remake the Nexus 7, the iPad Mini might be the best substitute.

But the right tablet can tempt me, so long as it's on the smaller side. I have a Pixel Slate here if I wanted to use a ginormous heavy tablet, and because it has a desktop browser, it's going to be better at doing many of the things I want a tablet to do. It needs to be plenty powerful enough to play HD video without sputtering and have Wi-Fi that's strong enough to keep up. A few cool games are a plus, too. My tablet would be just for fun and not at all for work.

I've thought about foldables here, too. Something like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could work, but I'm not yet sold on how the phone side of things play out. Maybe in a couple of years, but now I think I would end up spending twice as much on a device that I would only use as a tablet. Not an ideal situation for my wallet.

I basically ignored all the talk about how artists and professionals love the iPad Mini, but what I did pay attention to has me thinking it might be the one. The power is there — forget all the XX% faster marketing stuff, but I've seen enough from Apple to know the Bionic SoC platform is going to handle things. The size is right, and even the $500 price tag isn't insane like many other Apple devices are.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen Taking Notes

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Mostly though, it's the ecosystem. Yes, that word gets tossed around a lot, and sometimes my brain goes numb after hearing it, but this is one place where everything can work great for me. All of Google's services work well on iOS, so I know I'll have the experience I want from Google Photos or YouTube, and Apple does a great job at filling in the rest.

Say what you will about Apple's way of doing business, but the App Store has plenty of great tablet apps.

Yeah, Apple's walled garden sucks. Ask anyone who wants to play Fortnite on a new iPad Mini about that if you want another opinion, and I'm not a fan of a company trying to tell me what I can do with something I paid money to buy. But I can't deny that Apple has its shit together when it comes to tablet apps, and chances are I would find a few I would want to install. Google could learn a lot here.

I think an iPad Mini would complement my Android phone and my other tech in the right ways. I'm not rushing out to preorder one just yet, and I'll wait to read some reviews before I whip out the plastic. I'd also recommend any Android or Chrome user as interested in the iPad Mini as I am to do the same thing.

I've talked to a lot of you guys who use an iPad along with your Android phones, and I think I get it now. I'm not going to write it off just because it's from that fruit company. It might be what a lot of Android folks just like me are looking for.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • The iPad mini is the only Apple product that I have because it is the best tablet out there. However, I still think it's strange that people think that iOS has the best tablet apps. Two major apps, Instagram and Yahoo Fantasy Sports, are not great on the iPad. When I had the Nexus 7, at least the oversized phone app versions of both apps looked better than the iPad OS versions. Other than that, though, there really aren't any android tablets out there that give you what iPads give right now.
  • It very much depends upon what one uses their devices for. (I know that's an obvious point :D) The Galaxy Tab S6 is my main tablet. It does everything that I wanted to do with my iPad Pro, but couldn't. But... I have an iPad Mini 5 that I use primarily as a digital notebook/planner. Why? Because apps like GoodNotes don't exist for Android. Sure, there's Squid. I own it and tried using it on my Pixelbook and S6. But it doesn't have the fit, finish, and polish as GoodNotes. Nor does it have a desktop counterpart for being able to access notebook files from MacOS or Windows. This is a shame, because the S-Pen works so well and the Tab S6 is sooooo close to being the perfect device for a combination of productivity and leisure tasks.
  • GoodNotes is IpadOS/IOS and MacOS only. There is no Windows app. EverNote FTW. Android and iPadOS are poor for productivity compared with ChromeOS. Neither window support.
  • Nope: Consumption: - iPad Air (Pro is overkill) Consumption + Productivity: - Surface Pro X
    - Lenovo Duet
    - HP X2 11 or Lenovo Ideapad 5: Waiting on comparison reviews to see which is best. The use case for mini tablets went when phones got bigger.
  • Of course, it depends. Both have strengths and weaknesses and it depends on what the individual needs. If only carrying one device, then a Windows device would be best of both worlds. The iPad mini with cellular is a giant, giant phone for some people. The new mini looks pretty sweet and could be the one device that is phone, tablet and laptop for many people. The Pro is overkill and many use it as an expensive bathroom reader.
  • My Galaxy S7 is great and compliments my Fold 3 nicely...
  • Do you mean a tab S7, or are you using a phone from early 2016? Samsung is bad at names.
  • +1. I would take a serious look at new galaxy tablets if I could easily tell the difference between the new ones and the old ones...
  • Normally I dont care too much about processing power advancements but this (IMO) is why Android tablets suck so bad. Most Android tablets come with older and slower processors, and thats even for the expensive ones.
    If you want an Android tablet under $600 then you are going to get **** for processing speed and usually not enough RAM to make up for it. But you can buy Apple tablets for $500 or less that have 2-4x the processing power of the equivalent Android tablets. Until Android tablet makers wake up and put better chips in there I wont be buying.
  • Tab S7 didn't come with older and slower processor. It's a power house and am really enjoying it.
  • The Tab S7 was expensive and started over $600. Even after a full year it is still over $500. I can get a freaking iPad, not mini, not air, just a plain old iPad that has a processor that runs circles around the Tab S7 and its only $329. A new iPad Mini is only $500. Again Android tablets will continue to suffer poor adoption and sales until they step up the specs for the price paid.
  • Damned if they do, damned if they don't. Up until the Tab S7 the FUD spam complained about Samsung not using "premium" processors on their "premium" tablets. Get the A model if you want to save money.
  • I have a MacBook and Android phone, no issues at all. I too mix and match based on the best use for me.
  • Nice hardware, but just can't bring myself around to going with Apple.
    Partly on principle, because certain things I consider "deal-breakers" with how Apple does things. But I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others. I even recommend iPhones to some family members. I'm just too spoiled with sideloading certain apps on my Android tablet that Apple would never allow on their devices (and I'm sure Google frowns upon as well lol). I'm a boring dude that tries to primarily use F-droid and prefers using websites over app versions of stuff whenever possible.
    Although, the Play Store for certain things is still there for me. I can see for someone that will just need stuff from the Apple App Store, the iPad Mini would be a great device like the post says.
  • I can't see myself ever getting an Apple product based entirely on facts. It isn't about "principles" if the product is deliberately designed to break your daily life and routines to fit their maximization of sales. It's common sense not to buy Apple products.
  • Generally I avoid having to enter the Apple environment, but I still enjoy the iPad 4 mini that I had to buy years ago in order to work on a specific client's projects. The interface is clean and simple (and limited) while the response is rapid. Despite some clumsy software quirks (switching programs, side-by-side apps, force-feeding Apple News subscription items) it is still a fast and reliable way to check weather & news, get directions and open Chrome. (But I can't convince my wife to road test an iPhone 12 as a replacement for her old BlackBerry Q10.)
  • This is by far the most heinous and blasphemous article on here that I have ever agreed with. Keep up the good work!
  • You want a ten inch tablet. I see no point in buying a small tablet. I have 10.5" the Galaxy Tab S5e that is great for movies, newspapers, and a few games I play. There is a tiny bit of lag on Real Racing 3, but otherwise no issues. You can still buy it today, dirt cheap for $260 Canadian dollars. A tablet is one device you don't want to buy early because you just don't use it as much. Get a flagship tablet a tear or two old.
  • Lenovo Duet. Consume and be productive. iPads are still held back by iPadOS. With phones being 6.5"-6.7" the use case for really a mini tablet went.
  • Uhh...not everyone uses a giant slab phone.
  • Well no, that much is obvious, but those are the common sizes now. Galaxy S21 at 6.2" and iPhone 13/13 Pro at 6.1" aside the common size is 6.5" or larger now. Huewai and OnePlus don't sell a premium phone with a screen less than 6.5". Even most midrange phones are 6.5" or even larger. It's obvious most people's phones have got bigger over the years, not smaller.
  • Google's apps are optimised for tablets, its everyone else that isn't.
  • I have the S21 Ultra and have always owned an iPad Pro LTE. The iPad beats any and all similar tablets. It is silky smooth, powerful, great app store and gives me a gateway to chat and interact better with my apple friends. What I don't get about the mini is why someone would want a device so close in size to their phone. The 11" ipad Pro is one thing, the mini is another...
  • 8" tablets are much nicer for reading articles than phones and 10"+ tablets. Phones are 21:9, tablets are 4:3 or 16:10 so there is a difference. Other than reading articles however, totally agreed. Is YouTube so much better on an 8.3" iPad Mini to 6.7" phone? No.
  • Sorry, but no. I haven't watched 4:3 video content in years. Anything in HD or greater aspect ratios pretty much makes your viewing area the same size as a sub 7" phone. So I don't see the point. And since the Samsung s5e and the extremely thin magnetic cases, it's just as easy to carry a 10-11" tablet at that point.
  • One, the Mini is not close in size, even to the iPhone Pro Max. Two, iPad apps aren't just big iPhone apps. Most iPad apps have their own optimized interfaces. Some apps are iPad only, like Photoshop. A Mini gives you the iPad experience, in a more portable size.
  • My current setup is a Pixel 5, iPad mini 5, Surface Pro X, and a custom Ryzen desktop. I would love to get out of Apple's ecosystem but the 8 inch tablet form factor works for stuff like reading and travel in a way that smaller and larger devices just can't match. I ended up ordering the new one so that I can at least ditch lightning cables for good but until there's a competitive Android tablet or the Surface Neo sees the light of day, I'm stuck partially in apple world.
  • It sure reminds me of the BlackBerry PlayBook...LOL... indirectly of course. I think more in terms of size. The PlayBook was pretty much a "mini" tablet, quite a good one for its time...but of course short lived. My current phone has a 6.8 inch screen, so for me the iPad Mini wouldn't make much sense... nevermind that the pricing is as usual way too high. If I were to ever invest in a tablet again I'd get a Microsoft Surface. The Go version is not bad at all.
  • I still have a BB Playbook somewhere & it was ahead of its time, especially with it's BB phone integration!
  • Sorry... You lost me on how great it is when you said you want to consume. Because I'm betting you would be watching quite bit of HD content in 16:9 or wider. So you're telling me you want a tablet to watch content on that's the same size as your phone by the time the big black bars pop up. That pretty much tuned me out right there. Don't know why anyone would buy a consumption device that's not 16:10 which is the proper compromise between 4:3 and 16:10. And honestly, at least for me, the Samsung S5e was the first tablet that made me not want another 8"-ish device. It was so thin and light. With the slim magnetic case, it was joy to carry. Wouldn't go back to an 8" or similar tablet again. Like carrying the s5e more than the basic 7" tab 4.
  • My wife has the s5e and loves it, I opted for the slightly more pricey tab s6 at the time. I wanted the pen, she didn't. I was also going to use mine for work, she wasn't. Both are fantastic and ridiculously lightweight.
  • I used Mate20X for two years and it's still a great device that serves phone and small tablet needs, but no updates for well over a year and I moved onto the Pixel 5 (speed and camera don't match the 20X, but still a good experience). So back to needing a small tablet. If there is no sign of Surface Neo soon then I am likely to get the new mini. It should suit my tablet needs well as well as serve up those few things we miss out on without iOS. With new processor and Apple's history of device support, it should work well for quite a few years. And yes I too still miss Nexus 7. Have two of them that are just a bit too sluggish at this point so will probably go to some young kids to play with.
  • For me, the HP Elite X2 has been a delight for both productivity and consumption. If I was in Apple's ecosystem I'd need a tablet and an overly expensive laptop.
  • Where is Beno?