Yesterday, Apple announced and unveiled the iPad mini 3, now equipped with the company’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a gold color option. However, the iPad mini 2 is still the better deal.
Apple didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the iPad mini 3 (about 30 seconds), and that’s probably because the new tablet remains largely unchanged from the iPad mini 2.
While the iPad mini 3 is a newer device and comes with the convenience of Touch ID, that’s really all it has going for itself. The gold color option and the fingerprint sensor might look enticing, but it’s also $100 more than the iPad mini 2, which is practically the same tablet.
The iPad Air 2 received a generous upgrade from the iPad Air, coming 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 and the iPad mini 2.
Improvements have also been made to the iPad Air 2′s camera, now featuring an 8-megapixel sensor that can record 1080p video, compared to the 5-megapixel sensor of the older model. We’re not sure if this new camera is the same camera that’s in the iPhone 6, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it was.
The iPad mini 3 received exactly zero of these upgrades.
The smaller tablet still comes with the same A7 processor as the iPad mini 2, as well as the same camera and display. It’s not even thinner and lighter than the iPad mini 2. It’s the exact same tablet, save for Touch ID and the gold color. All of that for the price of an extra $100, and most users couldn’t care less about the gold color option in the first place.
That’s right, you’ll have to pony up $100 extra over the iPad mini 2 in order to get the iPad mini 3, which seems a bit absurd, and it’s arguably one of the dumbest upgrade tiers that we’ve seen from Apple. The iPad mini 3 starts at $399, while the iPad mini 2 starts at $299.
It’s possible that Apple is doing this to persuade users to spend more cash and buy the more expensive iPad Air 2, or it could also be nudging some users in the direction of the iPhone 6 Plus, which offers a large tablet-esque screen and would make more money for Apple anyway.
Of course, Touch ID is a really cool feature. It was definitely one of the features that users were looking forward to ahead of the iPad Air event last year, especially after it was introduced on the new iPhone 5s just a month earlier, but Apple sadly did not deliver such a feature that time around. However, we’re finally seeing it make its way to Apple’s tablets.
Touch ID can be used to unlock your iPad, make iTunes purchases, and authorize Apple Pay payments. However, there’s no NFC in the iPad mini 3, so it’s limited to in-app payments only for apps that support Apple Pay. Still, is having the privilege of Touch ID worth $100?
Touch ID isn’t even that convenient on an iPad as opposed to the iPhone. You’ll think you absolutely need it on your next iPad, but Touch ID actually serves a very useful purpose on the iPhone, since it provides security and convenience, which is arguably needed the most on the iPhone, since you take it with you everywhere, whereas you probably keep your iPad in your house or at the very most store it in a bag where it’s not as easily stolen or lost as an iPhone would be.
If anything, the launch of the iPad mini 3 should be overshadowed by the generous price drop of the iPad mini 2, which now costs just $299, rather than the $399 price tag that it had a couple of days ago. And guess what? The iPad mini 2 is still an amazing tablet. For $299, you’re getting an absolute steal, even if it doesn’t include Touch ID. It’s blazing fast and comes with that awesome Retina display.
In any case, if you absolutely have to have Touch ID on your iPad, by all means spend an $100 for that privilege, but we’re guessing that most users can wisely use that money elsewhere and stick with the iPad mini 2.