It's been four years since Apple refreshed the iPad mini 4. In that time the company has released four upgrades to its A series processor family as well as stronger AI support, better security with FaceID, USB-C connectivity in the latest iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. But the mini has been stuck back in the technological Dark Ages. That might change in the next few weeks as rumours suggest a new iPad mini will be announced.
This is further supported by code in iOS 12.2 that was spotted by MacRumors suggesting new iPads and a refreshed IPod touch are coming soon.
However, an updated iPad mini doesn't look like it will get any Pro features. It seems Apple is happy to keep the iPad mini at the budget end of its tablet range so there's little chance according to the supply chain leaks of the iPad mini getting USB-C support, the ability to use the Apple Pencil or even FaceID. It's believed the same form factor, with a Lightning Port and 3.5mm headphone jack, will be retained.
That suggests we'll merely be getting a CPU update and not much else.
The lack of USB-C support and retention of the headphone jack suggests Apple is sensitive to one of the main user groups for the iPad mini - education. Many school-aged kids have a mini as it's a low cost entry to the iPad ecosystem and parents feel it's a lower risk in case their youngster drops the device. But it also means those Lightning accessories, that we expected to fade away as Apple transitions to USB-C, will hang around a little longer.
I still think an iPad mini with Apple Pencil support would be a kick-arse productivity tool. It could become the equivalent of the compendiums people carried around in the old days with contacts, calendar, a notebook and other miscellaneous information. I know you can do that with an iPad but the smaller form factor makes it a great companion for your laptop or desktop computer.
I'm hoping the rumour-mongers have got it wrong and that Apple releases a 7-inch iPad Pro as well as an updated iPad mini. But that seems to be a forlorn hope.