Apple announced and unveiled the iPad mini 3 today as the successor to the 2nd-generation iPad mini (officially dubbed the iPad mini 2 now, but used to be called the iPad mini with Retina display). How do these two tablets compare?
The Cupertino-based company didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the iPad mini 3, and that’s probably because the new tablet remains largely unchanged from the iPad mini 2.
The iPad Air 2, on the other hand, 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 none 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 thinner and lighter than the iPad mini 2 like the iPad Air 2 is.
So then what are the differences between the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 2?
The iPad mini 3 comes with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a gold color option besides space gray and silver. All of that for the price of an extra $100, and most users couldn’t care less about the gold color option.
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?
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 yesterday. 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.
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 in a bag where it’s not as easily stolen or lost as an iPhone would be.
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.