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Spec showdown: iPad Pro vs. iPad mini 3

The highly-anticipated Apple TV wasn’t the only product CEO Tim Cook happily unveiled at company’s latest media event in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. “Today we have the biggest news in iPad since the iPad,” said Cook to a chorus of applause and peppered shouting. “Biggest” couldn’t be more true, either, given the newest addition to the iPad lineup — aka the iPad Pro — touts a 12.9-inch display that towers over previous generations of the iPad in both stature and resolution.

The aptly-titled device also runs Apple’s latest operating systems and boasts the fastest processor the company has ever conceived, whether you prefer to work with your hands or opt for the new Apple Pencil or Keyboard upon the tablet’s tentative release in November. Additional features such as four-speaker audio and enhanced camera components add to the tablet-centric fanfare, however, how does the new device compare when pitted against the mini of the last generation? Check out the brief spec comparison below for a closer look at the hardware behind both devices.

iPad Pro

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iPad Mini 3

iPad mini 3 Photo

Size 12 x 8.6 x 0.27 inches 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches
Weight 1.54 pounds 0.73 pounds
Display 12.9-inch Retina display 7.9-inch LED multi-touch display
Resolution 2,732 x 2,048 pixels 2,048 x 1,536
Operating System iOS 9 iOS 9
Storage 32 or 128GB 16, 64, or 128GB
Processor Apple’s 64-bit A9X chip, M9 motion coprocessor Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip, M7 motion coprocessor
RAM TBA TBA
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 8MP Front 1.2 MP, Rear 5MP
Video Front 720p, Rear 1080p Front 720p, Rear 1080p
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooh 4.2 Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooh 4.0
Sensors Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor,barometer, and Touch ID fingerprint sensor Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor,and Touch ID fingerprint sensor
Battery Up to 10 hours of surfing the Web on Wi-Fi, watching videos, or listening to music Up to 10 hours of surfing the Web on Wi-Fi, watching videos, or listening to music
Charger Lightning Lightning
Marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Price $800, or $1,080 with cellular $270, or $240 with cellular
Availability November Now
DT review Hands-on 2.5 out of 5 stars

Power and Productivity

The mini 3 is simply no match for the Pro when it comes to power — and why should it be? The iPad mini 3 is a last-generation device equipped with Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip, while the Pro houses Apple’s most powerful processor yet, the A9X. The added horsepower allows the Pro to perform quicker and adds responsiveness, while the enhanced architecture reduces batter consumption in the process. Although the Pro boasts a significantly larger screen — one offering 2,732 x 2,048 resolution compared to the mini 3’s 2,048 x 1,536 — both pack in well over 300 pixels per inch.

Other than processing power and display size, the two devices are virtually the same when it comes to internal hardware. Both feature a Lightning connector and similar connectivity options, along with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and 10 hours of battery life. Moreover, both will run on iOS 9 when it officially debuts in late September. They also both utilize the App Store for purchases, though, the mini 3 is also available in a 16GB configuration whereas the Pro’s entry level model flaunts 32GB of storage.

Design

The most obvious difference among the design of both pads is the size of the display. The iPad Pro has an enormous 12.9-inch Retina display that encapsulates 5.6 million pixels, the highest-resolution display of any iOS device to date. It’s gigantic when compared to the 7.9-inch display on the mini 3. The screen on the Pro is so large that Apple says it’s on-screen keyboard is “full-sized,” much like that of the company’s laptops. The increased real estate allows for easier multitasking in iOS 9, allowing you to conveniently run apps side by side and utilize features such as split view and “pop-over” video. The display also incorporates a new multi-touch system designed to accommodate two types of response — your finger and the recently-announced Apple Pencil. The latter isn’t available on the mini 3, nor will it ever be.

That said, both unibody models sport an aluminum enclosure available in a bevy of color offerings (i.e. silver, gold, space gray). The Pro, though larger and heavier than the mini 3, is also thinner than its pint-sized brethren, weighing in at around 1.57 pounds compared to the 0.73 pounds of the mini 3. The four high-fidelity speakers likely add to the weight difference, especially considering the mini 3 only sports two speakers in total. With iOS 9, the Pro will even manipulate where the sound is directed depending on the orientation of the device. Say goodbye to muffled audio.

Camera

Apple updates the camera components with each generation of iPad like clockwork. Such being the case, the iPad Pro touts a 8-megapixel iSight camera on the back and a 5-megapixel FaceTime camera on the front. The increased resolution of the rear camera isn’t a vast upgrade over the 5-megapixel camera on the mini 3, but it’s something, especially when it’s combined with enhanced sensors. The 8-megapixel camera on the Pro also allows you to shoot time-lapse and slo-mo video in 1080p HD. The mini 3 iSight camera, on the other hand, doesn’t boast the same capabilities. It doesn’t offer slo-mo or boast the same pixel account, even if it can capture panoramas and HDR photos. Again, the Pro has the edge.

Price and Availability

Although the mini 3 has been available for sometime, the Pro won’t ship until November following a brief pre-order campaign that will supposedly launch toward the end of October. Pricing starts at $800 for the 32GB version with Wi-Fi, while the 128GB version with cellular access will run you a cool $1,080. The 16GB iteration of the iPad mini starts at $400, with the cellular version starting at an upwards of $500. Apple quietly pulled the mini 3 from its store with the announcement of the iPad mini 4, though, so you’ll likely have to peruse third-party retailers in order to land one. Still, the price is far more lucrative on the mini 3 than the Pro, even it’s not as capable.

Conclusion

An unveiling always comes with an impressive display of new features and upgrades. That said, the iPad Pro surpasses the mini 3 in nearly every facet other than price. The gorgeous display touts more pixels than ever before, while the quicker processor renders performance faster and more responsive than previous iPad models (including the mini 3). The last-gen mini 3 is truly only lucrative for those on a budget who don’t mind a smaller display and an overall less capable device. Thankfully, the iPad mini 4 is a step up worth considering.