Less emphasized during Apple’s new iPad reveal event this month was the iPad mini. Apple’s diminutive iPad got a refresh, but did Apple do enough to justify buying the iPad mini 3 over last year’s model?
The iPad mini line debuted two years ago with the launch of the original model, and there was a solid distinction between the full-size iPad and the iPad mini. The full-size model had a high-density Retina display, while the iPad mini was simply the previous year’s iPad crammed into a smaller body. Terrific design, but no Retina display.
The next year saw the iPad mini receive a considerable performance boost. The iPad mini 2 got a Retina display on par with the redesigned iPad Air, plus a processor boost that brought it fully in line with Apple’s full-size offering. All of a sudden, Apple had two devices that were equally powerful, and the only real difference between the two was the screen size. The consensus was that that would remain the real distinction going forward.
Not so, though. This year, Apple dedicated a good bit of time to the iPad Air 2, showing off its camera and other functionalities. The “refreshed” iPad mini, though, only got a halfhearted mention in the form of a Powerpoint slide.
Just what did Apple add to the iPad mini this time around?
Touch ID. That’s about it. Full stop.
The new iPad mini has added Apple’s fingerprint reading security system to the model from last year and nothing else is different. Same processor, same display resolution, same front and rear cameras. If you were just scanning over Apple’s Compare iPad Models page, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the two were the same model. They pretty much are.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. There are three other differences between the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 2. The first is that you can now buy the iPad mini 3 with a Gold paint job. So there’s that.
The second is the storage. The iPad mini 3 and mini 2 have the same base model, with 16GB of storage. The iPad mini 2, though, maxes out at 32GB of storage, while the iPad mini 3 has 64GB and 128GB options.
The third, of course, is the price. The iPad mini 3 costs a full $100 more than the iPad mini 2 at the 16GB level. The 64GB model costs $150 more than the 32GB mini 2.
So, is it worth it? It all depends on what you value. As aforesaid, the iPad mini 3 is essentially a repackaged iPad mini 2 with a fingerprint sensor. Touch ID is remarkably well-implemented, usually reading users’ fingerprints in a fraction of a second. You can use Touch ID to log into the device and to purchase things from Apple’s iTunes Store. Other apps are now able to use Touch ID also, so you can simply use your fingerprint to log into apps like Dropbox or the Simple banking app.
Is that worth $100 more, though? That’s a bit hard to call. If you’re not sold on the usefulness of a fingerprint scanner, you might just want to hold on to that $100 and go with the iPad mini 2.
Then again, if looks really matter to you, and you’ve just got to have that Gold color option, you might want to splurge a bit. But go big, and get your iPad mini with 64GB of storage instead of the baseline.