Apple launched two new iPads this week in the form of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3, both of which come with a new gold color option, as well as the popular Touch ID fingerprint sensor that’s on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s. However, when it comes down to choosing just one of these tablets, which one should you buy? It’s the iPad Air 2 vs iPad mini 3 shopping showdown.
The iPad Air 2 remains largely unchanged from the previous generation as far as looks are concerned, save for the new Home button which now comes with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is probably one of the biggest features on these new iPads.
The iPad Air 2 is also lighter and thinner than the iPad Air, mostly thanks to Apple getting rid of the “air gap” in the display that has existed on every iPad model before this. With that air gap gone, the tablet can be thinner and also reduce light glare. The front glass and the actual display are now bonded together, just like the Microsoft Surface, allowing Apple to make the device thinner without sacrificing a lot of internal space.
Of course, the flagship tablet come with performance improvements across the board, including the new A8X processor, which is a 64-bit chip that offers 2.5x faster GPU performance and 40% faster CPU performance than the A7 processor that’s in the iPad Air. The iPad Air 2 also comes with the new M8 motion processor, just like in the iPhone 6.
The iPad mini 3, on the other hand, didn’t receive many upgrades. It still comes with the same A7 processor as the iPad mini 2, as well as the same camera. The only differences are the gold color option and Touch ID, but the iPad mini 3 still remains an excellent tablet for first-time buyers.
However, which one should you choose? The iPad Air 2 or the iPad mini 3? If you’re having trouble deciding, perhaps we can be of some assistance.
If You Want the Best Performance…
Without a doubt, if you want the iPad that will offer the best performance, the iPad Air 2 is the tablet to choose, as it comes with the latest components. The A8X is the latest processor from Apple and the iPad Air 2 is the only iPad that sports it. As mentioned, it’s 40% faster than the A7 processor in the iPad Air and also has 2.5x the graphics power.
The iPad mini 3 still only comes with the last-gen A7 processor, making it slightly inferior to the iPad Air 2 in the performance department.
This makes the iPad Air 2 a no-brainer if you want the iPad that offers the best performance.
If Portability Is Critical…
Many users will say that even the full-size 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 is extremely portable, thanks to its thinner design and lighter weight, but the iPad mini 3 is arguably the best choice when it comes to portability.
Of course, you’ll have to sacrifice a couple of inches of screen real estate, but I’ve discovered that the 7.9-inch display of the iPad mini is still plenty big, especially considering how close it is to your face most of the time (compared to your TV or something).
The iPad mini 3 is just small enough to fit in most smaller bags where the full-size iPad wouldn’t be able to squeeze into. Of course, if you have a larger bag like a messenger bag or a backpack, the iPad Air 2 would store nicely in that as well, but we feel that the size difference between the two devices is huge, and the iPad mini 3 genuinely feels like a device that you can quickly just pull out and start browsing on anywhere at anytime, just like an iPhone.
If Price Is the Most Important Factor…
For most consumers, price is the most important factor, and this isn’t too surprising. In that case, the iPad mini 3 costs $100 less than the iPad Air 2, so the smaller tablet will naturally be the one to go for if price is the leading factor.
However, I’d honestly recommend that you take a look a the iPad Air or the iPad mini 2 if you’re concerned about the price.
The iPad Air starts at $399, while the iPad mini 2 starts at just $299. The iPad mini 2 is arguably the best deal out of the four tablets, considering it still comes with a great processor and a Retina display for just $299.
The iPad Air is also still a really great deal at $399, as its A7 processor is still top notch and the new thinner design over the 4th-generation iPad is still very much relevant.
Buying last-generation products isn’t for everyone, but it’s a terrific way to save money by still getting something that performs really well, even if it’s just a smidgen inferior to the latest tablets.