I seriously found no information whether the new iPad Mini 5th generation would support external hard drives in iOS 13 until I bought the adapter and tried it myself using the latest beta.
It works if the device doesn’t draw too much power.
So, in order to use external hard drives you have to use the Lightning to USB 3 Adapter. It’s the one with the lightning charging port next to the USB port. The lightning-connection is required because external devices require more power than the iPad will give. So you will have to connect a power source to your iPad every time you want to connect a power hungry other device.
The new iPad Pros with the USB-C Port don’t have this issue since Apple allows the device to provide more power – up to 7.5 watts. All other iPads may struggle with some
Which hard drives will work?
I tested a Samsung EVO 840 with 120GB and a Lacie Porsche Design Mobile Drive with 2TB.
The Porsche hard drive with the rotating discs didn’t work as I expected. It was drawing too much power that even the Lightning to USB 3 Adapter wouldn’t provide. In order to make it work you would have to use a powered USB Hub. But this makes no sense in my opinion since you will need so many cables for this solution… It will work but it won’t be practical.
The SSD on the other hand needed a few seconds but started to work just fine after a couple of seconds.
I was happy with that since I consider SSDs to be the future of hard drives. Even 1TB and 2TB SSD become cheaper every year. You can already get a Samsung QVO with 1TB for around 100€.
You can indeed use an external SSD and thumb drives with an iPad mini 5th generation without any issues and even external HDDs with some extra juice using a hub. And surprisingly this whole solution is working with an iPhone as well. I‘ll definitely write about using the external hard drive-capabilities in another posting.