With the release of the iPad Air 3 and Mac Mini 5, all the tablets from Apple now supports Apple Pencil. That's great news for digital artists because we now have more options to choose from.
The iPad 6 was cheap but the drawing experience wasn't quite like the pricey iPad Pro which is to be expected. Now there's the iPad Air 3 for those who want a better drawing experience without the pro price tag. Additionally, there's also the iPad Mini 5 for those who value portability above all other things.
To test the practicality of sketching on a small tablet like the iPad Mini, I bought myself one to have a go at it. The model I bought is the wifi model that comes with 64GB of storage.
This is my first time using the iPad Mini and my first impression is it's really compact. The screen size is 7.9 inches and the resolution it supports is 2048 by 1536. Because it has the same resolution as the iPad 6 (2018) but in a smaller screen, everything looks slightly sharper.
The size of the iPad Mini is about the size of the 9.7-inch screen of the iPad.
At 6.1mm thick, it's even thicker than the Apple Pencil. So when charging the Apple Pencil using the lightning port at the bottom of the iPad Mini, it even pushes up the tablet. The weight of 300g feels so light. The build quality is solid but because it's so light, it also feels fragile.
This is an iPad that can be comfortable held in one hand, with fingers on the left and right side. It might be better to hold it this way because it's more secure and the brush metal back is kinda smooth.
There are still the thick bezels the top and bottom but those actually make the iPad Mini more comfortable to hold horizontally because you can rest your thumb in that area. Because the screen is small, if you want to rest your hand on the screen while drawing, it's going to block off a significant portion of the screen. The alternative is to raise your palm off the screen and away so that you can see more of the screen but without resting your palm on something, you lose some control.
Since the iPad Mini is so compact, I brought it out to sketch on the public train. I didn't even notice the weight of it in my bag.
While on the train, I held the iPad Mini vertically with a full grip because that's the safest way to hold it with no chance of it slipping. Having a flip case on would certainly make it easier to hold. When the iPad Mini is vertical, I didn't have much space on the right to rest my palm, as such, I had to lift up my palm while drawing. Instead, I rested my palm on my fingers but even so I didn't have the control I wanted.
The Apple Pencil on the glass screen is still considered slippery so you can expect to draw looser, especially when the train is moving. Drawing on a moving platform is never going to be as accurate as setting the iPad down on a table of course.
With the iPad 6 (2018) and case, i was able to feel the weight and case while standing and drawing. I had to relax my holding hand occasionally. With the iPad Mini, it's was almost effortless holding it.
The screen supports DCI P3 colour gamut. Colours and contrast look great. Brightness is good and can go up to 500 nits. Working outdoors under sunny conditions with this tablet is not a problem.
This is a glossy screen so there will still be reflections despite the anti-reflection coating.
Battery life is excellent. 8 hours for the usual internet stuff. Battery life depends on what you do. Drawing and having the brightness too high will draw the battery faster.
Apple Pencil is supported on the iPad Mini now. The laminated display has very minimal or no gap between the glass surface and the actual LCD screen, which means when you're drawing, the lines would appear as if they are directly beneath the pen tip, without any gap.
This is how it looks like on the iPad 6's screen. Notice the gap? Because there's a gap, there's also a hollow sound when you tap on the screen with the Apple Pencil or your finger. It's not a big deal but the on the laminated screen, it feels dense when you're tapping on it.
Apple Pencil is accurate, supports pressure and tilt sensitivity. You can have pressure and tilt sensitivity working at the same time. Palm rejection works great too.
You can draw diagonal lines slowly and there won't be the dreaded jitter issue that affects so many other tablets.
Large textured brushes work great without lag. Navigating huge canvas with zoom, pan and rotate is also very responsive.,/b>
The iPad Mini 5 has 3GB RAM just like the iPad Air 3. In Procreate, you can only get 19 layers with an A4 300DPI canvas. That's the same number of layers you'll get with the iPad 6 (2018) with 2GB RAM. The iPad Pro (2018) with 4GB RAM has three times the layers at 57 layers.
The selling point of the iPad Mini 5 is the portability. Drawing performance on it with the Apple Pencil is fantastic. The only thing I don't like is the 7.9-inch screen feels limiting to me. I'm not able to draw as freely as I can on larger screens. Because the screen is small, you would have to constantly zoom in to draw the details and out to get the context and see where you are. it's part of the process and you do that with other tablets too. On the iPad Mini, you have to deal with your drawing hand blocking a larger portion of the screen too, unless you set this on a table.
This is a very solid product no doubt. This is probably one of the best tablets at this size you can find in the market now. If you love the size, you will love the iPad Mini 5.