Last week, Apple held a special event on its Cupertino campus to unveil several new products, including two new additions to the iPad family. At that event, both the iPad Air 2, and the iPad Mini 3 were shown off to the media for the first time, with one of those devices receiving an impressive update, while the other barely saw any significant changes at all. In fact, while it is easy to recommend the iPad Air 2 now looks like it just might be the best tablet available today, it is actually difficult to find a single good reason to recommend the Mini 3 to anyone.
When designing the iPad Air 2, Apple managed to include a vastly improved processor in the form of the new A8X chip, a crisper, more responsive screen, and a greatly improved camera as well. They even managed to add Touch ID, which allows the iPad to interact with Apple Pay when shopping online.
Of those fantastic upgrades, the Mini 3 only received Touch ID, arguably the least important addition possible from that entire list. In all other aspects, the Mini 3 is exactly like the Mini 2, which was released last October. The two tablets have the same processor, Retina display, cameras, memory, and storage capacities. The only difference is the inclusion of Apple’s fingerprint scanner for the first time.
Don’t get me wrong, Touch ID is a nice feature, giving users the ability to unlock their iPhones and iPads simply by using a fingerprint. It adds a nice level of security to mobile devices, and the fact that it ties in with Apple Pay will come in handy over time. But to not upgrade any other aspects of the Mini 3 is incredibly disappointing, particularly for those who had been waiting for an update.
To make matters worse, Apple continues to sell the iPad Mini 2 as well. The older model is available from Apple at a $100 discount over the latest version of the Mini. That means that you can actually buy the exact same products – minus Touch ID – at a far more attractive price. And if you’re willing to purchase a refurbished model, you can save even more money.
It is perplexing why Apple didn’t update the Mini 3 further. While there may have been some unknown technical reasons why the A8X chip wouldn’t work in the smaller tablet’s form factor, a standard A8 would still have have been greatly appreciated. The A8 is the same processor that powers the iPhone 6 and 6+, and it would have provided significant performance gains over the old A7 processor that the Mini 2 and 3 now share. Similarly, the new iPhone’s updated camera would have been a nice upgrade too, offering better low-light performance, enhanced video options, and cleaner images all around. There are absolutely no technical reasons why this upgrade couldn’t have taken place either.
It is almost as if Apple put no effort into the Mini at all this year. They simply slapped on a fingerprint scanner, and decided to call it a day. It is understandable why the company put so much effort into updating the flagship iPad model each year, as margins are better on those more expensive option. But to almost completely ignore one product altogether is almost inexcusable, not to mention incredibly disappointing.
Unless you happen to love Touch ID, or are planning on using Apple Pay frequently, there is simply no reason to purchase an iPad Mini 3 over a Mini 2. The two devices are identical in every way, save the fingerprint scanner, and the larger price tag. If you’ve been considering purchasing an iPad Mini, then save yourself some cash and go with last year’s model. Chance are, you won’t even notice the lack of a fingerprint scanner at all.
On the other hand, if you’re like me, and were hoping for a more substantial update to the Mini line, you may want to consider waiting a year. Next year’s model is bound to be much improved.
Except, as someone mentioned in another article the iPhone 6 Plus may likely take the place of an iPad Mini. It makes sense that there will be less demand and potentially the mini may have reached end of life. Why invest more in a road Apple if you are making much more with a far more desirable and profitable iPhone?
I’m sorry, but that simply does not make sense to me. As an owner of both an iPhone 6 Plus and an iPad Mini, I absolutely do not see my iPhone 6 Plus as a replacement for my iPad Mini in any way, shape, or form whatsoever. The iPad Mini’s screen is still significantly larger than the iPhone 6 Plus, and the iPad Mini is significantly less expensive and, obviously, as it’s incapable of acting as a standalone phone, is not even in the same product category as the iPhone 6 Plus.
Maybe there’s less demand for the iPad Mini because Apple neglected to give it a proper refresh for the Mini 3. Personally, I’m considering replacing my Mini 1 with a 7-8″ Android tablet specifically because of the joke that Apple consciously chose to make the iPad Mini 3 into.
You’re right Larry, Apple definitely neglected the iPad Mini 3 when they were doing the refresh this time around. I would have really liked to have seen the Mini get the A8 processor as well as Touch ID. Hopefully they won’t continue to have the Mini lagging behind in the future, but I fear that might be the case.
As for the iPhone 6 Plus being a tablet replacement, I’d say that for some it truly is. I agree that it isn’t quite big enough for my tastes either, but the mere fact that Apple allows it to be used in landscape mode from the home screen indicates that it is a different animal as compared to other iPhones.
That’s a very good point Czar. The iPhone 6+ is inching closer to the size of the iPad Mini already, and it is starting to blur the lines between a tablet and a smartphone. Personally, the 6+ is too large of a phone for my tastes, but I do believe we could see it canalize Mini sales moving forward.