Can iPad Mini replace iPhone? [ENG 🇬🇧]

🇵🇱 Przejdź do polskiej wersji tego wpisu / Go to polish version of this post

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and my first thought is „I need to change something”. I really like changes in my gear, checking out new solutions, different combinations of devices. Unfortunately, my wallet doesn’t like it… 🤷‍♂️😅 One beautiful day, I came up with an idea that I included in the title of this post. A kind of thing, but where a tablet replaces a phone, not a computer. Currently, I use an iPhone 13 Pro Max equipped with a large 6.7″ diagonal screen, but could it be replaced with a device with an even larger screen? The iPad mini 6 with an 8.3″ screen at first glance looks like it could handle this task! I did some research, I have my conclusions on this topic and I would like to share them in this post.

Advantages of iPad over iPhone – sounds promising… 🤔

Let’s start with what such a change could give me. The first and most obvious is a larger workspace (screen), unfortunately at the cost of convenience in wearing pants. Almost a 7-inch iPhone is the maximum I can still comfortably carry in my pants pocket, so I would have to carry an over 8-inch iPad in a different way. Well, it would probably involve the need to transfer certain activities to the Apple Watch. Let’s just agree that now we take our phone even to the bathroom, so maybe it would be good for me if I left devices other than the watch at home more often and went for a walk with the dog only with headphones in my ears and a podcast playing from the watch.

Another huge advantage would be access to significantly greater possibilities offered by iPadOS compared to iOS. We can talk here about access to applications such as DaVinci Resolve, but I am more interested in things like Split View (the ability to split the screen into two parts), Slide Over (an additional tray for side applications that can be accessed at any time without leaving the currently used full-screen application), or how the keyboard works on the iPad – gestures that give access to special characters or even the ease of detaching it from the bottom of the screen and changing it to floating. All of this is not available on iOS, so it is also not available on the iPhone.

Apple Pencil support! For some, it may be completely irrelevant, but for others, it can be a crucial matter. Until recently, I belonged to the first group, assuming that I am not a graphic designer and the Pencil is completely unnecessary for me. In fact, when I had it, I didn’t use it at all. However, now I appreciate the possibilities it offers. Even if the user does not plan to draw with it, it can still be used for many other precise tasks. When using the iPad mini 6 as a phone, it would be worth having the Pencil with you at all times, but I would definitely not choose to carry it using that magnetic connection. I would need to get a case that has a special slot/handle for it.

Price-wise it might not be that bad, because the iPad mini 6, even in the Cellular version, will be much cheaper than my iPhone 13 Pro Max. However, I would have to add the accessories that would make the benefits of the iPad make sense. Firstly, the second-generation Apple Pencil 2. Secondly, I would have to change my Apple Watch to one with cellular support (Cellular). Additionally, a sensible case with a place for the stylus, so as not to rely solely on magnetic mounting. A possible change of the car mount to one for tablets. It would add up a bit and the final result would probably be that the prices would be quite similar, but I still think that the iPad set would be the better choice.

iPad mini 6, like all new tablets from Apple, is equipped with a USB-C port. This argument in favor of the iPad will probably lose its significance this year, as Apple recently confirmed that the iPhone 15 will be equipped with a port mandated by the European Union. Nevertheless, at the moment, giving up the iPhone in favor of the iPad is the only way to become independent from the Lightning port.

There would definitely be something else and certainly not just one thing, but these four aspects mentioned by me would be enough for me to seriously consider replacing my iPhone 13 Pro Max with an iPad mini 6.

Disadvantages, or rather shortcomings, of iPad compared to iPhone – why it doesn’t make sense 😕

Unfortunately, even with an iPad with the „Cellular” function (support for LTE/5G cellular networks), it will not be able to make phone calls or send/receive SMS messages. The only thing that can be done is to make calls through FaceTime or apps like Signal, but there will be a problem because the iPad does not have a speaker that would allow for a phone call by holding it up to the ear, so the only option would be to use speakerphone or headphones. Theoretically, this problem could be bypassed with apps like Skype, where you can purchase access to a solution with a normal phone number. I know that people also use Google Voice, but this is an option that only works in the USA.

iPad cannot be used for contactless payments with Apple Pay. This is not a hopeless situation, as I always have my Apple Watch on hand, which can easily make such payments. Nevertheless, it is a matter worth considering.

There’s no point in hiding the fact that the cameras in any iPad don’t even come close to those available in iPhones, especially in the Pro Max line. In my iPhone 13 Pro Max, I have a macro lens (for close-up photos), a telephoto lens (wide-angle), and the ability to zoom three times optically (hardware zoom). In the iPad mini 6, we have one poor lens that basically does what it can, but the effect cannot be compared. Of course, it’s not that the iPad takes terrible photos, they’re just more limited in terms of hardware. Apple is just known for enhancing photos in post-production with appropriate software modifications.

While both the iPad mini 6 and iPhone 13 Pro Max are powered by the same processor, unfortunately the iPad only has 4GB of operating memory (RAM) compared to the 6GB in the iPhone. Interestingly, while in my opinion 4GB of RAM in a phone is usually sufficient, in a tablet 4GB is definitely not enough. I learned this the hard way when using a regular iPad 9th generation with only 3GB of memory before purchasing the iPad Air 5 with M1. It struggled to keep up, making multitasking impossible, which is a key requirement for a tablet.

The argument that has pushed me over the edge is the lack of CarPlay on iPad. Even in my Ford Focus, I have a special dongle that allows me to use CarPlay wirelessly. If I couldn’t use it, it would be a tragedy for me, so I would have to come up with some workaround, like always carrying an old iPhone in the car. But is that the direction we’re going in with these considerations? Is the goal to forcibly prove that using an iPad as a replacement for a phone is possible? Probably not, and at some point, we have to say „enough, it’s not possible, stop the train, I’m getting off.” For me, this is that moment.

Mission aborted, but… 😎

I think I have proved to myself that replacing my iPhone 13 Pro Max with an iPad mini 6 is not possible and/or will not work in the long run. So what did I do? I bought a used iPad mini 5! 😂 I did it to see how this type of device would perform in my daily routine. It didn’t cost me much, as I paid 1200 PLN (less than $300) for the basic version (Wi-Fi and 64GB memory). I am writing this text on Saturday and it will probably be published on Wednesday, and I expect the iPad to arrive on Tuesday, so by the time this post is published, I will probably be clicking on it. I won’t hesitate to share my impressions!

This post is a continuation of a discussion on Mastodon

If you liked this post then you can support me! 🙂

Tomasz Dunia

🇵🇱 Z wykształcenia Mechatronik. Z zawodu Główny Konstruktor w PAK-PCE Polski Autobus Wodorowy (Neso Bus). Po pracy Ojciec Roku. W nocy Wannabe Programista. Wszystko to daje przepis na zwykłego nerda :) 🇬🇧 Mechatronics by education. By profession Chief Constructor in PAK-PCE Polish Hydrogen Bus (Neso Bus). After work Father of the Year. At night Wannabe Programmer. All this gives a recipe for an ordinary nerd :)


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    Can iPad Mini replace iPhone? [ENG 🇬🇧]