iPad Mini 2 vs. iPad Mini 3: How big is the update?

ipad mini 2 vs 3 spec showdown versus header copy

Apple’s invitation to its October 16 press event may have read, “It’s been way too long,” but we all know the company launched the iPhone 6 and unveiled the Apple Watch less than two months ago. Nonetheless, the company recently took to its Cupertin0-based campus to reveal its latest editions to the heralded iPad lineup, including the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.

Apple decided to add Touch ID and a gold color option to the iPad Mini 3 this time around.  It certainly doesn’t boast the sheer number of improvements as the larger iPad Air 2— the larger iPad now has Apple’s A8X processor and an 8-megapixel rear camera — but how does it compete when stacked up alongside last year’s iPad Mini 2 (with the Retina display)? Take a look at the spec comparison below for a quick glance at the internal hardware and software powering both machines. Hint: They’re not that different.

Retina iPad Mini 2

iPad Mini 2

iPad Mini 3

iPad Mini 3 Image copy
Size 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 (in) 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 (in)
Weight 11.68 ounces 11.68 ounces
Display 7.9-inch LED with IPS technology 7.9-inch LED with IPS technology
Resolution 2048 x 1536 pixels 2048 x 1536 pixels
Operating System iOS 8 iOS 8.1
Storage 16 or 32GB 16, 64, or 128GB
Touch ID sensor No Yes
Processor Apple’s 64-bit, A7 chip Apple’s 64-bit, A7 chip
RAM 1GB LPDDR3 DRAM 1GB LPDDR3 DRAM
Camera Front 1.2MP, Rear 5MP Front 1.2MP, Rear 5MP
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 Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor
Battery 8820mAh, 10 hours of Web use via Wi-Fi 8820mAh, 10 hours of Web use via Wi-Fi
Charger Lightning connector Lightning connector
Marketplace App Store App Store
Color options Silver and Space Gray Silver, Gold, and Space Gray
Price $300+ $400+
Availability and carriers Now on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon Now on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon
DT review 4.5 out of 5 stars 2.5 out of 5 stars

Power and productivity

Although the iPad Air 2 received a modest update in terms of processing power and internal hardware, the iPad Mini 3 was not as fortunate. The third-generation Mini sports nearly the same hardware specs across the board as last year’s model, most notably Apple’s proprietary A7 processor and M7 coprocessor. Both offerings also feature the same connectivity — Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G LTE — along with the same internal sensors and a built-in battery that’s intended to last up to 10 hours when surfing the Web via Wi-Fi. However, the iPad Mini 3 does boast the upper hand in terms of storage capacity. Whereas the Mini 2 comes in either 16 or 32GB, the newest models boasts 16, 64, and 128GB capacity.

.

Similarities aside, there is one notable difference between the two iPad Mini models. Apple implemented its Touch ID technology into the Mini 3, allowing users to unlock their device and make software purchases by simply placing their finger on the Home button. Both devices will also utilize the mobile App Store and iOS 8.1 once, that is, assuming iPad Mini 2 users update to the latest version of the mobile operating system.

Design

Apple didn’t try to reinvent the wheel with the iPad Mini 3. The company’s latest tablet still sports the exact same dimensions as its predecessor, as well as the previously-optional 7.9-inch Retina display first introduced on the iPad Mini 2. Both products comes with an aluminum rear shell and chamfered edges, though, the iPad Mini 3 is available in Gold in addition to Space Gray and Silver. Resolution and weight are identical as well, at 2048 x 1536 pixels and 11.68 ounces, respectively, as is the placement of the 3.5mm stereo jack, lightning connector, volume rockers, and other outer components with which everyone is now familiar.

Camera

The iPad Air 2 features an upgraded 8-megapixel rear camera, but as you might have guessed by now, the iPad Mini 3 does not. With an f/2.4 aperature and five-element lens, the rear camera touts the same qualifications as its predecessor, allowing users to capture 5-megapixel stills and 1080p HD video using a bevy of on-board features. Autofocus, face detection, HDR capabilities, a hybrid IR filter also come standard on both devices, as does the FaceTime HD camera for capturing the 1.2-megapixel stills and 720p HD video. Both feature video stabilization and can can capture time-lapse and slo-mo videos as well, with the additional option to create 43-megapixel panorama stills with the introduction of iOS 8. Basically, each device showcases the same camera.

Price and availability

Internal specifications aside, there is a difference between the iPad Mini 2 and iPad Mini 3 when it comes to pricing. Apple dropped the introductory price of the Mini 2 from $400 to $300 with the introduction of its latest 7.9-inch tablet, along with the price of all other iPad Mini 2 models. The baseline pricing for the iPad Mini 3 now begins at $400 for the 16GB, Wi-Fi model, while Apple priced the cheapest cellular model at $530. Furthermore, the Mini 3 is available on the same carriers as its predecessor — AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile — with pre-orders beginning on October 17. The iPad Mini 2 is the better deal.

iPad Mini 2 iPad Mini 3
16GB: $300 Wi-Fi, $430 cellular 16GB: $400 Wi-Fi, $530 cellular
32GB: $350 Wi-Fi, $480 cellular 64GB: $500 Wi-Fi, $630 cellular
128GB: $600 Wi-Fi, $730 cellular

Conclusion

The iPad Mini 3 is not a vast improvement over the Mini 2. It’s identical in nearly all aspects, from the last-gen processor to the built-in camera, with a higher price tag to boot. Its sole appeal lies in the Touch ID sensor, which isn’t all that enticing for most users. The extra $100 does open the door for the Gold model of the iPad Mini 3 as well, but unfortunately, an additional color offering doesn’t render it as enticing an update as the one Apple gave the iPad Air 2. I guess there’s always next year.

Deals

Apple iPad and iPad Pros get big discounts for Memorial Day weekend

Apple iPads have been getting a lot of great discounts so far this year, and Memorial Day 2019 proves to be no exception. With prices as low as $249 for newer models, Memorial Day weekend is a great time to pick one up.
Smart Home

Before you sell your Google Home Mini, here's how to factory reset it

If you’re thinking about swapping out Google's entry-level smart speaker, you can get a few bucks in cash or trade-in value out of your device. You’ll need to wipe your device first though. Here's how to factory reset a Google Home…
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for May 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for May 2018.
Mobile

Unleash your inner artist with the best drawing apps for the iPad Pro

The best drawing apps for the iPad Pro turn Apple's robust tablet into a canvas worthy of a true artist. Here are 20 of our current favorites, whether you're looking to keep things simple or take your art to the next level.
Gaming

These are the 20 best Android games you can play offline

Even in our increasingly connected world, you don't always have an internet connection on the go. To help you pass the time when you're disconnected, we compiled a list of the best Android games that can be played offline.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Product Review

Oppo’s cutting-edge Reno has a shark fin pop-up camera, and plenty of bite

The Oppo Reno has a very cool shark fin-style pop-up camera to make it stand out in a crowd, and a rear camera with a 10x zoom, plus there’s a 5G version coming soon. It’s truly up-to-date, with plenty of cutting-edge tech inside.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Deals

Qustodio drops prices 10% on premium parental control software plans

With school almost out for summer, now is a prime time to keep your children's content consumption in check and protect your own peace of mind with Qustodio's premium parental control software plans, now available at 10% off.
Mobile

As stock Android spreads, is it time for Android manufacturer skins to die?

Many Android device manufacturers seem to be moving towards a stock Android look and ditching separate skins, but there are a few notable exceptions. Do manufacturer interfaces for Android still add value, or is it time for them to die?
Mobile

Prevent a broken screen with the best Google Pixel 3a XL screen protectors

The Pixel 3a XL is a solid choice if you're looking for a midrange phone with a large screen and a great camera. But it still needs protecting. Here are the best Pixel 3a XL screen protectors to keep your big display safe.
Mobile

Guard your Galaxy with the best Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screen protectors

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are two of the best phones to ever grace this planet -- but the screen still isn't brick-proof. Here are the best Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screen protectors to keep yours safe.
Mobile

Huawei's situation in the U.S. may improve when trade war is resolved

The U.S. Commerce Department has added Huawei to its "Entity List." Google, Intel, and ARM are all confirmed or rumored to be ceasing business with the company, which may have disastrous effects on Huawei.
Deals

Best Memorial Day sales 2019: Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart deals

If you're looking to save big on some shiny new stuff for Memorial Day 2019, we've gathered everything you need to know into one place. Find out where to save the most money before the summer hits its stride.