Apple iPad mini 3 16GB WiFi
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Apple IPad Mini 3 16GB WiFi Review
With Apple's release of the iPad Mini 3, the tech giant is sending a message loud and clear – what once was a product on par with its bigger iPad Air brother is now marketed as a budget option against the premium Air. While the iPad Mini 2 stood toe-to-toe with the Air in terms of features, the new versions of each tablet could hardly be farther apart.
Unless you count an additional color option as an added feature, the upgrade list for the Mini 3 is a single line – Touch ID. Its dimensions, weight, hardware, shape, screen resolution, and clarity are all identical to the 2. Since the specs are pretty much the same as last year, it's necessary to compare the Mini 3 with the new iPad Air 2, which seems to be Apple's primary concern in the premium tablet market. The colors on the Mini, which appeared so vivid a year ago, seem flatter than those on the Air's crisp display.
Screen glare in direct sunlight can be a problem, same as last year's model – yet Apple has rectified this issue on the Air 2 with an anti-reflective screen. The Mini also carries the same old camera as last year's model. The Mini 3 boasts a massive battery life only trumped by Microsoft's Surface 2 in performance benchmarks. During battery testing, the iPad Mini 3 averaged roughly the same time as the 2. Using the highest brightness settings and a continuous playback of 720p-quality video over Wi-Fi, the battery finally died after nearly seven and a half hours of use, and typically lasts over 13 hours during moderate web browsing. Since the Mini uses Apple's Touch ID, users can theoretically tap into Apple Pay, new with iOS 8.1 However, the Mini isn't equipped with a Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip, so the much-touted tap to pay feature is unavailable.
Instead, Mini owners can only use Apple Pay to make payments online using Wi-Fi or 4G. However, odds are you wouldn't want to swipe your iPad to make a payment at the mall – that's what iPhones and Apple Watches are for. Base models of the Mini 3 are Wi-Fi only with 16 GB of storage, but can also be found in models enabled with 4G and both 64 and 128 GB of space, a huge step up from the 2's comparatively tiny 32 GB of storage. The Mini 3 will face competition early in its life cycle from the Sony Z3 Tablet Compact, which, like most Sony devices, is waterproof – but its base model is also more expensive than the Mini. Other entries into the small tablet market include the Shield Tablet, more of a budget option for those who feel the Mini's price is too high. Apple's “new” Mini feels out of place next to the Air 2.
Phone screens are getting bigger and bigger, making miniature tablets feel the crunch from above and below. Their niche is shrinking, and manufacturers have to differentiate these products to keep them afloat. Apple seems to have done so by turning it into a stripped-down version of the Air 2. Regardless, the Mini 2 was released only recently, and the addition of Touch ID is enough to keep the 3 going for the time being.