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Can You Use Procreate on iPad Mini: A Comprehensive Guide

Can you use procreate on iPad mini? It’s a loaded question, but if you need a short answer: Yes. Using procreate on your iPad mini may not be the same experience as playing with the app on your iPad Pro 2021, but it’s still a pretty versatile sketchbook.  Let’s break that down further, and talk about the upsides—- and downsides— of using procreate on your iPad mini. 

Your first purchase for your iPad mini may have been an iPad mini 6th generation case— or iPad mini 5th generation case, if that was your model. Your second purchase is likely to be a few handy apps. If you’re into drawing and animation,  your first app store bill may just be  $9.99 for procreate.

But let’s back track here. Do you really want to be buying an iPad mini at all, if you’re into drawing, sketching, or animation? You’ve got other options— do you really want to go with the runt of the litter, the smallest iPad that can’t even display a full-page drawing at full size?

Why Use Procreate on iPad mini

Here are a few of the reasons you might choose the iPad mini rather than a iPad Pro or Air model for running your Procreate app. 

  • Smaller— just the right size to fit in your jacket pocket, the iPad mini is easier to keep on you than a bulkier full-sized iPad. 
  • Cheaper— if you’re going for a new iPad mini, it isn’t cheap— but it definitely is a lot cheaper than one of the new full-sized models, and the specs are very comparable. 
  • Lighter— None of the iPad models are heavy per se, but the iPad mini has the honor of being lightest iPad on the market. If you’re into balancing the pad on one hand while you draw with the other this weight difference might suddenly become very significant. 

Downsides to Using Procreate on the iPad mini

Procreate works just fine on the iPad mini 6th generation. In fact, you can even use procreate on an older iPad mini—- any iPad running iPadOS 14.4 or later. If you’ve got an old iPad, you probably know the drill: things are slower, stickier, and in general not quite as fun. Still, drawing is drawing, and the key here is getting your ideas down on virtual paper. Note that the current version of Procreate is not compatible with the iPad mini 1, 2 or 3. While Procreate does work with the iPad mini 4, the new Apple Pencil doesn’t, so you’ll be stuck relying on a third party stylus. 

Here we’ll focus on just two models, the 5th and 6th generation. Procreate runs smoothly on both of these models, but if you’re using the 5th generation you’ll have a little less processing power, and you won’t have the benefit of that A15 Bionic chip which, according to Apple, gives the 6th generation iPad mini 80% better graphics performance than the fifth generation. 

But the main downside to using Procreate on either iPad mini isn’t the processing power, it’s the space. The iPad mini is great for what it is: a mini, lightweight iPad you can take with you anywhere. Enjoy doodling on the train? This little device is likely to be your next best friend. Want to put together a full page comic? Okay, this is where it gets tricky. 

Scroll, zooming, and scaling windows means you can fill up canvases of any size on your iPad mini. It’s just not the same. You can’t see the whole picture, unless you’re zoomed out so much you loose much of your definition. 

Brushes, settings, and options are smaller on the iPad mini then they are on the regular iPad, but they still do take up a bigger percentage of the screen. 

If you’re like many graphic artists, you may be used to drawing with your hand resting on your paper— or iPad, when you’re drawing on that. While it’s certainly possible on the iPad mini, resting your hand anywhere on the  display is going to take a big chunk out of your already limited real estate. It may be time to make new habits. 

Which iPad mini is best for procreate?

If you’ve decided that you’re willing to deal with the smaller canvas size and buy yourself an iPad mini for procreate, the next question becomes: which one should you buy? 

We’re going to go out on a limb and tell you to buy the nicest, most expensive model that money can buy: the 6th generation iPad mini. With a two and a half year gap between models, there’s a huge difference between the capability of the new iPad and the 5th generation that came out in 2019.

First, memory. While the 5th generation has 32 GB and 128 GB options, the iPad mini 6 comes with 64 or 256 GB options. 64 GB is enough for occasional sketching. If you sketch every day, the 256 GB is worth the extra price tag. 

The iPad mini 6 also has 2266 by 1488 resolution at 326 pixels per inch. Compare that to the 2048 by 1536 pixel at 264 pixels per inch boasted by the 5th generation model, and you’ll see why the new model looks as sharp as it does. That said, 264 pixels per inch is pretty good as it goes. Both models feature a fingerprint resistant oleophobic coating, though users say the new Mini is a little slicker than one might desire for detailed sketching. If that’s a problem for you, consider springing for a matte paper-like screen cover.

If you go with the 6th generation, what you’re really paying for is the A15 bionic chip with 64 bit architecture and the 6-core CPU. And that’s worth paying for. It’s that differencing in processing capabilities which allow you to work with up to 26 layers in the 6th generation mini (you can only do 19 if you’ve got a 5th generation tablet).

But you can do a lot with 19 layers, and if your memory runs out, there is always the cloud. The most important thing here is to get a tablet you’re happy with, that doesn’t break the bank, and that enables you to do your magic with procreate. Don’t forget to keep that tablet safe with a drop safe case—the  iPad mini 5th generation case if that’s your model, or else the brand new 6th generation case for the newer model.