Upgrading from my iPad mini 5 to an iPad mini 6 almost two weeks ago hasn’t made a huge difference in my tablet usage aside from my needing to remap Touch ID fingerprint unlocking from a large button below the screen to a power button at the top right. But it’s already yielded a huge improvement every time I need to charge the thing: I don’t need to find a Lightning cable.
Because this tablet has a USB-C port instead, I can plug it into the same cables that I’d use to charge my phone, my previous phone and my old and any new laptop. Not having to worry about proprietary charging accessories is a welcome, if overdue luxury in my history of Apple gadget ownership, and it’s enough to outweigh the mini 6 omitting a headphone jack.
(I do have a pair of Bluetooth headphones–after interviewing Nothing co-founder Akis Evangelidis at Web Summit in 2021, he gave me a pair of that company’s Ear (1) earbuds. I still need to buy a USB-C headphone-jack adapter if I’m going to use any other headphones I own, especially the Bose QC25 noise-cancelling headphones I’ve grown to appreciate on long flights.)
Unfortunately, I can’t get away from Lightning when I’m at my desk at home: The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad on which I’m typing this post has a Lightning connector for recharging (and for working around the occasional Bluetooth dropout). I can’t think of any engineering reason to have this $179 wireless peripheral charge via Lightning instead of USB-C, but Apple can’t seem to let this connector go.
And then there’s the mouse next to the keyboard–which is not Apple’s $79 Magic Mouse. Instead, I am still using the AA battery-powered wireless mouse that came with the iMac I bought in 2009. This rodent continues to function fine at steering a cursor around a screen–notwithstanding the times, more often than with the keyboard, when the Bluetooth connection drops because reasons. And when the mouse runs out of a charge, it takes me well under a minute to pop the two spent AAs out of the thing and replace them with two charged AAs from the charger next to my desk.
Apple’s current, not-so-magic mouse, meanwhile, must be set aside while it charges because its port is on the bottom–an idiotic configuration that the design geniuses in Cupertino have stuck with since 2015. And that charging port requires a Lightning cable, again for no discernible reason besides “Apple said so.” So while I had no big hang-up over spending $550 and change on a tablet with 256 GB of storage (on sale for $100 off), I just don’t want to spend even a small fraction of that to underwrite Apple’s Lightning fetish.