iPad mini 6 iFixit teardown explains jelly scrolling behavior

The iPad mini 6 introduced a lot of big changes to the small tablet family, the first one in a very long time. Not only has it adopted the design language now common across all iPhones and iPads, but it also finally embraced the USB-C connector. Although it seems minor in comparison, the larger display of the 6th gen iPad mini actually has significant consequences, including what could be the cause of what has been termed as the "jelly scrolling" behavior that Apple is dismissing as something completely normal.

Apple clarified that this uneven scrolling is typical of LCD screens, and they do have a point. The way these screens refresh line by line often causes a lag, especially near the top and bottom edges of the screen. It doesn't explain, however, why this phenomenon is more noticeable on the iPad mini 6 compared to other iPads with LCD screens or even laptops.

iFixit's teardown of the latest and smallest iPad may have revealed the answers, though it's still theoretical on the teardown experts' part. It has something to do with how the display controllers are oriented in relation to the scrolling direction. When the scrolling direction is parallel to the controller, which is the case with the iPad mini 6 in portrait mode, the jelly effect is more noticeable. That explains why the "bug" seemingly disappears in a landscape orientation or why the iPad Air 2020 behaves in reverse.

While that may have shed some light on the iPad mini 6's predicament, the teardown, unfortunately, doesn't give much reassurance as to repairability. The surprising presence of a battery pull tab turned out to be a red herring, and a modular USB-C port doesn't do much to improve the tablet's rating. iFixit gives it a 3 out of 10, still one of the lowest among Apple's devices.

The theory about the jelly scrolling effect does explain why Apple insists it's all normal, though that doesn't mean it's acceptable behavior. Unfortunately, it does mean that it's not something that can be easily repaired, and the only recourse users will have is to either get used to it or hope that Apple develops some software trick to offset that lag.