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iPad Air 2 vs iPad Mini 3: How do Apple’s two newest iPads stack up against each other?

Related: Apple iPad Mini 3 review

It wasn’t long ago Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage in Cupertino, California to announce the new iPhones. At a recent October event, Apple announced two new iPads, a lineup of new iMacs, and unveiled its new OS Yosemite. Now that the dust has settled on Apple’s second big event in two months, we’ve analyzed each of the company’s new additions to its iPad lineup.

Related: Apple’s iPad Air 2 gets thinner, faster, adds Touch ID and new camera features

Each iPad features unique upgrades over its predecessors — however minimal for the Mini 3 — so we’ve stacked the two up against each other to see where the two models differ.

iPad Air 2

iPadAir2

iPad Mini 3

iPadMini3

Size 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24 (in) 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 (in)
Weight 0.96 lbs 0.73 lbs
Display 9.7-inch LED multi-touch display 7.9-inch LED multi-touch display
Resolution 2048 x 1536 2048 x 1536
Operating System iOS 8.1 iOS 8.1
Storage 16, 64, or 128GB 16, 64, or 128GB
Processor Apple’s A8X chip and M8 motion coprocessor Apple’s A7 chip and M7 motion coprocessor
RAM Not announced yet Not announced yet
Camera Front 1.2MP, Rear 8MP Front 1.2 MP, Rear 5 MP
Video Front 720p, Rear 1080p Front 720p, Rear 1080p
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooh 4.0 Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooh 4.0
Sensors Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor,barometer, and Touch ID Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor,and Touch ID
Battery Up to 10 hours of web surfing, watching videos, or listening to music Up to 10 hours of web surfing, watching videos, or listening to music
Charger Lightning connector Lightning connector
Marketplace Mac App Store Mac App Store
Price 16GB – $499, 64GB – $599, 128GB – $699 16GB – $399, 64GB – $499, 128GB – $599

Power and Productivity

Both the iPad Air 2 and Mini 3 run Apple’s current operating system, iOS 8.1, which promises the most user-friendly interface and a new set of features. Users of either tablet have the ability to utilize Apple’s Continuity feature, its upgraded messaging system, as well as the company’s new Family Sharing mode. Where these iPads truly begin to differ is in regards to each tablet’s processors.

Related: Where to preorder the iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 3: A full list

Apple included its new A8X chip in the Air 2, compared to the A7 chip in the Mini 3. The A8X chip is 40 percent faster than the A7 and boasts 2.5 times faster graphics than its predecessor. Additionally, the M8 motion coprocessor chip in the Air 2 packs all the same sensors as the Mini 3’s M7, but now features a new barometer that measures steps, distance, and elevation. Overall, the Air 2 has the more powerful processor and graphics unit. However, both models boast the same length of battery life, giving users up to 10 hours of Web surfing, video watching, and music listening. Both tablets now feature Touch ID sensors, as well as the ability to use the new Apple Pay system in apps.

Design

Aside from its weight, the iPad Air 2 trumps the Mini 3 in every design category. It packs a bigger screen (9.7 inches to 7.9 inches), is 1.3 inches wider, and is slightly thinner than the Mini 3. It’s obvious the Mini 3 wasn’t expected to best the Air 2 in any of its design specifications, so the Air 2’s edge in this category should come as no surprise. The Air 2 does come standard with a fully laminated display and an antireflective coating, both of which remain absent on the Mini 3. Simply put, if you want a bigger screen go with the Air 2; if you want a more compact tablet, opt for the Mini, though you might want to buy the second-generation for $100 less instead (the only new spec on the Mini 3 is Touch ID).

Camera

Only the iPad Air 2 saw significant upgrades with its camera, as Apple decided to upgrade its rear facing lens from 5 to 8 megapixels. Moreover, Apple gave the Air 2 the ability to shoot slow-motion video, as well as the option of using Burst Mode while taking photos. The iPad Air 2’s A8X processing chip features a built-in image signal processor, which also makes it more advanced than the Mini 3. For starters, its improved face detection technology allows for the camera to keep more faces in focus while snapping photos. The Air 2’s iSight camera also boasts upgraded noise reduction, which means all of your photos should turn out clear and sharp. Both iPads have the ability to shoot 720p video with the front-facing camera and 1080p video with the rear-facing camera.

Price and Availability

Preorders for both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 begin October 17, with shipments to follow shortly thereafter. The iPad Air 2 comes with either 16GB of storage for $500, 64GB for $600, or 128GB for $700. Similarly, the Mini 3 comes in a 16GB version for just $400, 64GB at $500, or 128GB at $600. If preordering online isn’t your thing, Apple plans on making the Air 2 and Mini 3 available in its retail stores starting October 24. Many retailers and carriers will also offer the new iPads.

Conclusion

Apple has yet again improved its impressive line of tablets and continues to dominate the industry. While the iPad Mini 3 sees very few upgrades over its predecessor, the iPad Air 2 is a significant improvement in nearly every category. Its upgraded processing chip, top-tier camera, improved Retina display, and the inclusion of Apple’s new Touch ID put the Air 2 at the top of the tablet class. If you’ve got the extra dough, we recommend splurging for the iPad Air 2; it won’t disappoint.