Apple's new iPad Mini could be the best tablet for Xbox Cloud Gaming

Ipad Mini
Ipad Mini (Image credit: Apple)

Anyone who knows my work probably knows I'm not a fan of Apple. The company's anti-competitive attitude to competing services, their insatiable greed, gouging developers on its app store, their tendency to steal years-old features from Android (and Windows Phone ironically) and claim they invented it, etc., etc. The list goes on. However, Apple did unveil something that even the biggest anti-Apple Xbox fans might find interesting at its recent event.

The 2021 Apple Event showed off the iPhone 13 which borrows 120Hz for the first time from years-old Android devices; don't let Apple know that the iPhone 14 leaked already, though (lol). It also showcased some new iPads, which include a refreshed iPad Mini 6, which is what we're interested in here today.

I've always thought that the smaller tablets made better devices for Xbox Cloud Gaming. Phones are too small, squashing UI elements that are designed for larger TVs — not to mention the fact that touch controls block the view of your game too. The larger tablets, like the Galaxy Tab S series or the iPad Pro, I find to be too big.

Source: Windows Central The iPad Mini 6 will be able to take advantage of the USB-C connector on the GameSir X2. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The smaller, Nintendo Switch-like, 8-inch-range tablets seem to hit that sweet spot, but there are so few decent options out there. I've switched to the Galaxy Fold 3 for my cloud gaming, but at $1,800 new it's hardly something I'd recommend unless you planned to get it on contract and planned to use it as your main device for everything. Generally, I've listed the Samsung Galaxy Tab A as the best tablet for Xbox Cloud Gaming, but the Apple iPad Mini 6th Gen is probably going to take its place. After all, the Galaxy Tab A only supports Micro-USB, and Samsung hasn't bothered refreshing it in years.

Typically, the larger iPad models have had USB-C ports, but the smaller iPads languished on Apple's proprietary lightning port that literally nobody else but Apple uses. The iPad Mini 6, however, switches over to USB-C, like the rest of the modern world. This means that the iPad Mini will be compatible with clamp-style mobile controllers like the excellent GameSir X2, or even a standard Xbox controller with a small USB-C cable, and one of the Xbox controller phone clips. The best Xbox Cloud Gaming scenarios bypass Bluetooth, due to the added latency. Direct connections through USB-C are always best.

Ipad Mini 6 Apple

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

The iPad Mini 6 also sports 400 nits of brightness, ideal for gaming, and comes with a 5G option as well for true on-the-go cloud gaming. With beefed-up processing and graphics, it also makes for a top-of-the-line all-around tablet option too, complete with inking for apps like OneNote.

The GameSir X2 uses a USB-C connector with an innovative pivot, making it work with virtually any tablet up to 8 inches. Finding an Android tablet with USB-C at 8 inches is strangely difficult, though, especially at a baseline level of quality. The 8-inch Samsung tablets have become incredibly slow by contemporary comparisons, and are in desperate need of a refresh.

Although the iPad Mini 6th Gen doesn't support Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming via the Apple App Store due to the company's anti-competitive practices, it works fine through the browser, giving access to dozens of games from anywhere and everywhere.

I got fed up having separate devices for tablet gaming and mobile phone usage, which made the Galaxy Fold 3 the best all-in-one device for me. I managed to get a pretty good deal on one though, trading things in. The iPad Mini by comparison starts at $500, which is far more reasonable if you're primarily planning to use it for gaming and general tablet activities.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!