If you’re in the market for a new iPad, and you had your eye on Apple’s latest event hoping for a major update to the iPad mini, you’re going to be disappointed. Unlike the impressive iPad Air 2, which got thinner, lighter and more powerful than its predecessor, the only way the iPad mini 3 differs from the iPad mini 2 is in its new Touch ID sensor.
The fingerprint scanner can be used to unlock your device, of course, but it can also be used to unlock certain apps, like Evernote, in iOS 8. And in the US, you can use Touch ID to authenticate Apple Pay purchases through compatible apps. There’s no NFC here, so it won’t work on payment terminals in physical stores – this is in-app only, and it works seamlessly.
Last year, the iPad mini stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the iPad Air. Both shared the same specifications, differing only in screen size and cost. This meant, brilliantly, that you could opt for the smaller iPad without losing any of the power that the larger model offered. This year, Apple appears to be saying that bigger is better.
And that’s a great shame. The iPad mini 3 has the same camera, the same processor and the same screen as last year’s model. When you consider that the iPad mini 2 is now £80/$100 cheaper, the question really becomes this: how much is the Touch ID sensor worth to you?
For most, the answer should be straightforward. We love Apple’s fingerprint scanner– it’s fast, consistently accurate and offers a simple way to improve security. On the mini 3 it’s just as easy to use and just as smooth as we’ve come to expect, and we can understand that some people prefer the simplicity of unlocking your device with a single thumb. But to us that simply isn’t worth the extra cash.
Don’t get us wrong – we’re not saying that the iPad mini 3 is a bad tablet per se. But if you’re in the market for a smaller iPad, we simply couldn’t advise that you choose the latest model. The Touch ID may swing it for some, but otherwise it’s just not worth it. The one thing the iPad mini 3 does really well is make the iPad mini 2 great value. There’s never been a better time to buy last year’s iPad mini. 3/5