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iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2

iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2

Apple has announced its third-generation small tablet, the iPad mini 3. It wins no prizes for naming imagination, but does it deserve one for the new design?

We’re going to compare the iPad mini 3 to the older iPad mini 2, to see what’s changed this time around. We’ll also be looking at whether it’s a worthy upgrade for those people who already own an iPad mini 2.

Strap in as we compare design, screen tech, processor power and more.

iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2: Design

iPad mini 3: Touch ID sensor, 7.5mm thick, 331g
iPad mini 2: 7.5mm thick, 331g

The most obvious addition made to the iPad mini 3 hardware is the fingerprint scanner Apple introduced with the iPhone 5S. It’s called a Touch ID sensor, and means you don’t have to use a passcode and neither are you forced to reject security measures altogether when unlocking your phone. It sits under the Home button below the screen.

The iPad mini 3 has one, the iPad mini 2 doesn’t.

Just like the iPhone models with Touch ID, it’s primarily used to unlock the tablet, and to let you avoid having to put in your password when you purchase something from iTunes. It’s not going to change your world – well, actually it might if the world ends up running on Apple Pay – but it is still a neat little addition. And it works well, too, unlike some of the fingerprint scanners we’ve seen other manufacturers try.

iPad mini 3 17
Other than this, the basic design of the iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 2 hardware is identical. They’re both 7.5mm thick, made of aluminium and 331g. When you think that the iPad Air 2 just got 18 per cent slimmer than its predecessor, this seems a teeny-tiny bit disappointing. But then it’s not like anyone was complaining about the iPad mini 2’s size.

Apple’s added a new colour into the mix, though. As well as the usual silver and grey shades, the iPad mini 3 comes in a muted gold colour.

Much like the Touch ID sensor, this was introduced in the iPhone line before trickling its way down to the iPads in the iPad mini 3.

iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2: Screen

iPad mini 3: 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536-pixel IPS screen
iPad mini 2: 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536-pixel IPS screen

It seems like nothing has changed at all in the iPad mini 3’s display. It’s still 2048 x 1536 in resolution, still uses an IPS LCD panel and still measures 7.9 inches across.

Another case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Almost, but not quite. The iPad mini 2 had slightly muted red tones, and this is something we hope to see Apple tweak in the iPad mini 3. We’ll be back with our final impressions once we get an iPad mini 3 to review.
iPad mini 3 13

However, we should also remember that the iPad mini 3 is not a terribly expensive tablet compared to some, and that its resolution is still absolutely superb. You get pixel density of 324ppi, which is extremely high for a tablet.

iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2: CPU and Power

iPad mini 3: Apple A7 CPU
iPad mini 2: Apple A7 CPU

No real improvements have been made to the CPU of the iPad mini 3. It uses the same Apple A7 as the iPad mini 3.

Considering the iPad Air 2 got a bump up to the A8X chipset, this is a downer, but it doesn’t need to be a deal-breaker. The A7 chipset still uses a 64-bit architecture, meaning it has the right building blocks to deal with the way iOS is heading.

However, this does mean that the iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 2 are definitely both mid-range options at this point.

iPad mini 3 3

iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2: Storage

iPad mini 3: 16/64/128GB, non-expandable
iPad mini 2: 16/32/64/128GB, non-expandable

In the usual Apple style, the iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 2 don’t offer expandable memory. You get what you choose at the till, and you have to live with it.

Apple has also shaken up the options for 2014/2015. The iPad mini 3 doesn’t offer a 32GB model, only a low-end 16GB one and much more capacious 64GB and 128GB ones.

Before the iPad mini 3 was announced, you could get the iPad mini 2 in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions. However, now that it’s been relegated to being a legacy model, you’ll only be able to get the 16GB and 32GB iPad mini 2s direct from Apple.

iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2: Cameras

iPad mini 3: 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.2MP front camera
iPad mini 2: 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.2MP front camera

As with so many other elements of the iPad mini 3, Apple has not chosen to upgrade the camera hardware of the iPad mini 3 significantly. The rear camera uses a 5-megapixel sensor with an f/2.4 lens and the front selfie cam features a 1.2-megapixel sensor.

Neither is going to turn you into the next David Bailey.

What they do get you, though, is Apple’s usual speedy camera performance. You may not get superb photos, but taking them is fun enough.

Early Verdict

The iPad mini 3 is a rather disappointing upgrade. As Apple wanted the iPad Air 2 to regain the superiority it lost in the 2013 line-up, there are few significant improvements on offer here.

It offers no more power, no greater photo skills and no new design elements beyond the Touch ID sensor and a new gold model. It’s barely an upgrade at all, and not worth investigating for current iPad mini 2 owners.

Those looking for an iPad mini now should also consider the older model if the fingerprint scanner is not a great concern.

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