iPad mini 3
The iPad mini 3 with Touch ID was announced on October 16.
At a Glance
Apple updated the Retina iPad mini on October 16, adding a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a new gold color option.
- 7.9-inch Retina display
- A7 processor
- iOS 8
- Same form factor
- Touch ID
- Gold option
- 16-128 GB capacities
Apple unveiled the second-generation Retina iPad mini (aka the iPad mini 3) alongside the iPad Air 2 in October of 2014, but unlike its larger sibling, the iPad mini saw no updates aside from the addition of a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a gold color option.
Except for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, the iPad mini 3 has the same form factor as its predecessor, and it also continues to offer the A7 chip introduced with the first Retina iPad mini. With Touch ID support, however, the iPad mini 3 can be used to make online Apple Pay purchases in participating apps.
Many reviews have suggested that because the iPad mini 3 only gained Touch ID support and a gold color option without any other upgrades, the new tablet is not worth purchasing over the iPad mini 2. iPad mini 3 pricing starts at $399 while iPad mini 2 pricing starts at $299, so customers who purchase the mini 3 are paying a $100 premium just for the new fingerprint sensor.
In More Detail
Because the only improvement to the iPad mini 3 was the addition of a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, it continues to offer all of the same features of the original Retina iPad mini (now called the iPad mini 2).
The iPad mini 3 has the same measurements as the iPad mini 2, with a thickness of 7.2mm and a weight of 0.73 to 0.75 pounds (Wi-Fi only vs. Cellular). It features both the A7 chip and the M7 motion coprocessor that were originally introduced in the iPhone 5s, along with a 2048 x 1536 Retina screen.
While the iPad mini 3 does have the fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating that comes standard on all Apple devices, it does not offer the special antireflective coating that was added to the iPad Air 2.
The iPad mini 3 has the same 5-megapixel f/2.4 aperture camera that was in the iPad mini 2, which supports 1080p video recording. iOS 8 updates bring features like improved panoramas, a timer mode, time-lapse video, and more. The iPad mini 3 does support Slo-mo video or burst mode photos like the iPad Air 2. It also continues to offer the same 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera.
Wi-Fi and Cellular
The iPad mini 3 continues to offer 802.11n Wi-Fi, as it was not updated with 802.11ac support like the iPad Air 2. It also does not include support for LTE Advanced, offering the same LTE speeds as its predecessor.
Apple's iPad mini 3 offers up to 10 hours of battery life when surfing the web, watching video, or listening to music on Wi-Fi, or 9 hours of battery life when surfing the web using a cellular connection.
The iPad mini 3 continues to use the same 7.9-inch LED backlight Multi-Touch IPS display that was originally used in the iPad mini 2, Apple's first iPad mini with a Retina display.
While it offers a 326 ppi 2048 x 1536 resolution, the iPad mini 2's display was heavily criticized for its poor color gamut, which at 63 percent, is much narrower than that of the iPad Air. The iPad mini 3, unfortunately, suffers from the exact same Color Gamut flaw as it uses the same display.
According to display expert Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies, the iPad mini 3's display is a "major disappointment" and as a result, the tablet itself is "embarrassingly mediocre and way overpriced" at $100 more than the iPad mini 2.
Like the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 has an NFC Controller built in. There is no accompanying NFC antenna to allow the tablet to make NFC-based payments within stores, the NFC Controller chip is where Apple Pay's "Secure Element" is located. According to Apple, the Secure Element is a dedicated chip that stores encrypted Device Account Numbers, which replace credit card numbers for security reasons.
Though the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 are not able to make payments in retail stores, they can make Apple Pay payments within participating apps and thus utilize both the Secure Element and Device Account Numbers.
Which iPad to Buy
Planning to buy a new iPad? Make sure to check out our guide on which iPad might be best for you. It walks you through each of the different models, the differences between them, and what you should take into account when you're choosing between an iPad Air or an iPad mini.
How to Buy
Apple began offering pre-orders for the iPad mini 3 in its online store on October 17, with retail availability coming on October 23. The iPad mini 3 is available in gold, silver, and space gray, with 16, 64, and 128GB storage sizes. The Wi-Fi only version is priced at $399/$499/$599 for 16/64/128GB, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular version is priced at $529/$629/$729 for 16/64/128GB.
Apple is continuing to sell the iPad mini 2 and the original iPad mini at discounted prices. The mini 2 is available in 16 and 32GB capacities for $299/$349 (Wi-Fi only) or $429/479 (Wi-Fi + Cellular). The 16GB original mini is available for $249 (Wi-Fi only) or $379 (Wi-Fi + Cellular).
Because the iPad mini received only a minor update in 2014, there have already been rumors that Apple is working on a more substantial upgrade. A 2015 update for the iPad mini could include an upgraded A8X processor and a slimmer design, much like the one the iPad Air 2 received. Due to Apple's historical fall release schedule for iPads, it is unlikely we will see a new iPad mini until the later months of 2015.
Images and a video depicting what might be the rear shell of the iPad mini 4 surfaced in April. The shell features iPad Air 2-style design elements like a single row of larger speaker holes alongside the Lightning port at the bottom of the device, rather than two smaller rows, and a missing mute switch that's been replaced with a microphone hole.
Though there have been rumors of an update, there's also a slim possibility that the iPad mini might be discontinued, according to a sketchy rumor out of the Asian supply chain. That source suggests development on the iPad mini could cease in order for Apple to focus its resources on the iPad Pro, but it's too early to give that rumor much credence.