iPad mini 6 with USB-C and A15 chip tipped to arrive this year

The iPad mini has always been the odd duck in Apple's mobile lineup, but it has also been one of its biggest miracles. Even with the arrival of larger iPhones, the iPad mini continued to sell well enough to have reached five generations so far. Despite that, it is also the only one that hasn't seen a significant change in design for years. That might be changing with the sixth-gen iPad mini later this year, but its redesign won't just be skin-deep.

Of course, a major redesign like what's been rumored for the iPad mini 6 requires major hardware changes as well. With thinner bezels that leave no room for the old home button, the next iPad mini's Touch ID will be relocated to the power button off to the side. The changes, however, won't stop there, and Apple's smallest iPad might actually start catching up to its Pro cousins.

According to 9to5Mac's sources, the next iPad mini will finally switch over from Lightning to USB-C. Not only does this follow the iPad Pro design more closely, but it also opens up the small tablet to the same peripherals available for those pro slates. It will even support magnetic Smart Connectors, though it probably won't be compatible with accessories that use the technology because of its smaller form.

The more interesting technical tidbit about these latest rumors is the processor. The sixth-gen iPad mini will supposedly use the upcoming Apple A15 processor that will also debut on the iPhone 13 series. This would be the first time an iPad will get a processor that's in the same generation as an iPhone from that same year.

Apple does seem to have a variety of plans for the iPad family, according to those same sources. For example, there is talk about a beefier Apple A15X for future iPads. There is also word on an entry-level iPad with an Apple A13 chip coming our way. Of course, this is all still unofficial, and there isn't even any firm date yet for the next iPad mini's debut.