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iPad mini 7 will be Apple’s best tablet if it gets the iPhone 15’s A17 Pro chip

Published Oct 6th, 2023 1:31PM EDT
Apple iPad Mini 2021 Front
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The iPhone 15 launch is behind us, but more Apple products might come our way this fall. Rumors say that Apple will refresh a few iPad models in the coming months, including the iPad Air and iPad mini. These likely won’t be big updates, just spec bumps that both models need. On top of that, there might be a new iPad 11 on the way. And, as unlikely as it may sound, new M3 MacBook Pros.

The iPad mini 7 is the most interesting proposition for this iPhone 14 Pro user, in part due to the fact that I haven’t upgraded to the iPhone 15 Pro. I don’t plan on buying either iPhone 15 Pro model. But I wouldn’t mind getting access to that A17 Pro chip. It may be wishful thinking, but I hope the iPad mini 7 gets the A17 Pro treatment.

I’ll address the biggest problem with the A17 Pro right now. Apple has reportedly purchased TSMC’s entire 3nm production capacity for the following years. The Taiwanese chipmaker will manufacture the A17 Pro and various M3 versions (base M3, Max, Pro, and Ultra) using its 3nm tech.

It’s unclear whether Apple can manufacture enough A17 Pro units for the iPhone 15 Pro models. If it can’t, the A17 Pro upgrade I want for the iPad mini 7 can’t happen. Apple will use the chip for devices that sell for at least $999. The iPad mini 6 starts at $499.

The iPhone 15 Pro's new A17 Pro chip.
The iPhone 15 Pro’s new A17 Pro chip.

Due to its size, the iPad mini might be the perfect iPad choice for me. The tablet features an 8.3-inch display and weighs under 300 grams. Apple will likely keep the same design for the iPad mini 7, including the screen size and weight.

The iPad mini 6 was released in September 2021, featuring the same A15 Bionic chip Apple used for the iPhone 13 series. Apple launched the devices at the same time.

Rumors say the iPad mini 7 will get better specs. But an upgrade to the M1 or M2 chip seems out of the question for the smaller tablet. Therefore, the only possibilities left are the A16 Bionic that powers the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, or the A17 Pro inside the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max.

Going for the latter would let Apple turn the iPad mini 7 into a device that can offer incredible performance. It would be a tablet capable of running the $60 console-grade games coming to the iPhone 15 Pro/Max and the iPad Pro and Air models with an M1 chip or better.

iPhone 15 Pro vs. M2 Pro Macbook Pro Geekbench 6 benchmark comparison.
iPhone 15 Pro vs. M2 Pro Macbook Pro Geekbench 6 benchmark comparison. Image source: Geekbench

As a reminder, the A17 Pro outperformed the M1 and M2 in benchmark tests, which is impressive performance for the iPhone chip. The iPad mini 7 would essentially become a great iPad Pro alternative, just like the iPad Air.

Giving the iPad mini 7 the same power would also future-proof the device. The iPad mini doesn’t get annual updates. An upgrade to the best possible A-series chip will ensure that the 2023 iPad mini can last for several years in Apple’s lineup.

Then again, the iPad mini starts at $499 right now. If Apple wants to keep that starting price in place for the iPad mini 7, the A16 Bionic might be the better choice for the tablet.

It’s unclear when or even if Apple will announce new 2023 iPads. Apple usually launches new products in October, but we don’t have dates or estimates for Apple’s next announcements.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.