Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3

Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Introduction


Apple, in standard fashion, introduced its two new tablets, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, to the public not too long ago – both of which, naturally, are expected to compete in the upcoming holiday season. Generally speaking, Apple intends for them to go against the other hordes of tablets occupying the space at the moment, but we can’t forget that consumers might be inclined to decide on only Apple’s tablets. Taking that into consideration, it’ll be interesting to find out exactly what tablet should they invest their hard earned money into.

Design

Size, that’s arguably the most profound distinction between the two, as they boast the same premium design language.

Without a doubt, the only thing separating the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 from a design standpoint is their size. Obviously, the iPad Air 2 is the larger of the two, but what’s notable is how incredibly thin it is in comparison to the iPad mini 3, which doesn’t see any improvements to its design when compared to its predecessor. At the very least, though, both exude premium finishes that don’t disappoint.

Bearing the same iconic designs of their predecessors, they’re outfitted with nearly the same set of buttons and ports around their trims – though, we should point out that the iPad Air 2 does away with the mute/rotation lock switch. In addition, their home buttons incorporate Apple’s fancy Touch ID finger print sensor.

 

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Display

The iPad mini 3 has better pixel density on paper, but the iPad Air 2 bears more favorable characteristics that make its screen the more polished between the two.

Diving into their respective screens, both of which offer resolutions of 1536 x 2048 pixels, the iPad mini 3’s 7.9-inch Retina Display benefits from a higher pixel density figure of 324 ppi – in comparison to the iPad Air 2’s tally of 264 ppi from its 9.7-inch Retina Display. In reality, however, the difference is hardly noticeable, both from normal and close-up distances.

Unfortunately for the iPad mini 3, that’s the only area where it’s able to best its sibling, seeing that the iPad Air 2’s display bears traits that indicate to us that it’s higher in quality. Looking at their brightness outputs, the iPad Air 2 shines stronger at 410 nits – whereas the iPad mini 3 chimes in at a lower 312 nits. On top of that, colors appear more realistic with the iPad Air 2. And finally, we should point out that the screen of the iPad Air 2 is also fully-laminated, which makes the panel appear closer to the surface – thus, giving it that floaty look.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Apple iPad Air 2 410
(Good)
4
(Excellent)
1:1063
(Good)
7001
(Good)
2.22
4.23
(Average)
2.72
(Good)
Apple iPad mini 3 312
(Average)
6
(Good)
1:823
(Average)
6656
(Excellent)
2.24
8.5
(Poor)
1.55
(Excellent)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Apple iPad mini 3 73.7%
83.3%
68.3%
10.3%
2.7%
0.9%
139.4%
Apple iPad Air 2 78.3%
75%
65.6%
11.8%
2.7%
11.1%
11%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3

Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Introduction


Apple, in standard fashion, introduced its two new tablets, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, to the public not too long ago – both of which, naturally, are expected to compete in the upcoming holiday season. Generally speaking, Apple intends for them to go against the other hordes of tablets occupying the space at the moment, but we can’t forget that consumers might be inclined to decide on only Apple’s tablets. Taking that into consideration, it’ll be interesting to find out exactly what tablet should they invest their hard earned money into.

Design

Size, that’s arguably the most profound distinction between the two, as they boast the same premium design language.

Without a doubt, the only thing separating the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 from a design standpoint is their size. Obviously, the iPad Air 2 is the larger of the two, but what’s notable is how incredibly thin it is in comparison to the iPad mini 3, which doesn’t see any improvements to its design when compared to its predecessor. At the very least, though, both exude premium finishes that don’t disappoint.

Bearing the same iconic designs of their predecessors, they’re outfitted with nearly the same set of buttons and ports around their trims – though, we should point out that the iPad Air 2 does away with the mute/rotation lock switch. In addition, their home buttons incorporate Apple’s fancy Touch ID finger print sensor.


Display

The iPad mini 3 has better pixel density on paper, but the iPad Air 2 bears more favorable characteristics that make its screen the more polished between the two.

Diving into their respective screens, both of which offer resolutions of 1536 x 2048 pixels, the iPad mini 3’s 7.9-inch Retina Display benefits from a higher pixel density figure of 324 ppi – in comparison to the iPad Air 2’s tally of 264 ppi from its 9.7-inch Retina Display. In reality, however, the difference is hardly noticeable, both from normal and close-up distances.

Unfortunately for the iPad mini 3, that’s the only area where it’s able to best its sibling, seeing that the iPad Air 2’s display bears traits that indicate to us that it’s higher in quality. Looking at their brightness outputs, the iPad Air 2 shines stronger at 410 nits – whereas the iPad mini 3 chimes in at a lower 312 nits. On top of that, colors appear more realistic with the iPad Air 2. And finally, we should point out that the screen of the iPad Air 2 is also fully-laminated, which makes the panel appear closer to the surface – thus, giving it that floaty look.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Apple iPad Air 2 410
(Good)
4
(Excellent)
1:1063
(Good)
7001
(Good)
2.22
4.23
(Average)
2.72
(Good)
Apple iPad mini 3 312
(Average)
6
(Good)
1:823
(Average)
6656
(Excellent)
2.24
8.5
(Poor)
1.55
(Excellent)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Apple iPad mini 3 73.7%
83.3%
68.3%
10.3%
2.7%
0.9%
139.4%
Apple iPad Air 2 78.3%
75%
65.6%
11.8%
2.7%
11.1%
11%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

Yup, they’re both running iOS 8.1 – so nothing is different, except that we have more room to work with on the iPad Air 2.

This one should be quick and straight to the point, just because both tablets are running the same exact software experience - iOS 8.1. Looking around the two interfaces, there’s certainly nothing different about them – with the exception that there’s more room to work with on the iPad Air 2, thanks to its larger display.

And with that in mind, it makes the iPad Air 2 the supreme choice when it comes to doing heavy productivity work. From typing up long emails, to editing a spreadsheet file, everything is undoubtedly easier to manage with the larger iPad. Then again, we’re still able to the same kind of work with the iPad mini 3, but of course, we’re a bit more cautious in the way we proceed with certain things – like using the on-screen keyboard in landscape, seeing that its layout is significantly more cramped.

Apple iPad Air 2 - Apple iPad mini 3Both tablets are running the same exact software experience - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad Air 2 - Apple iPad mini 3Both tablets are running the same exact software experience - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad Air 2 - Apple iPad mini 3Both tablets are running the same exact software experience - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad Air 2 - Apple iPad mini 3Both tablets are running the same exact software experience - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3

Apple iPad Air 2

Apple iPad mini 3Both tablets are running the same exact software experience - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad mini 3Both tablets are running the same exact software experience - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad mini 3Both tablets are running the same exact software experience - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Apple iPad mini 3Both tablets are running the same exact software experience - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3
Both tablets are running the same exact software experience


In terms of multimedia consumption, you can’t go wrong using either of them – albeit, size is yet again the deciding factor. Watching videos is more ideal with the larger screen of the iPad Air 2, but for some folks, they would prefer the iPad mini 3 over its sibling when it comes to reading. Ultimately, though, the experience is identical with the two.

Processor and Memory

Superficially, the two tablets respond well to basic tasks, but the newer chip in the iPad Air 2 propels it to greater heights when it comes to gaming.

Who knows what the exact reasoning behind it is, but Apple did not upgrade the processor inside of the iPad mini 3. That’s unfortunate, obviously, because it doesn’t quite exhibit the same gaming performance seen over on the iPad Air 2. Powered by a 64-bit based dual-core Apple A7 chip with 1GB of RAM, the iPad mini 3 on the surface produces the same responsiveness with basic tasks as the beefier triple-core 1.5GHz Apple A8X processor with 2GB of RAM that’s powering the iPad Air 2. When it comes to gaming, however, there’s no comparing the two, as the iPad Air 2 screams loudly over its sibling.

Apple has followed a new direction with its mobile products this year, where both tablets here are available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities. That’s a wide range to choose from, but it’s a variety we appreciate.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 62856
Apple iPad mini 3 35513
Sunspider
Lower is better
Apple iPad Air 2 303.3
Apple iPad mini 3 443.4
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 52.2
Apple iPad mini 3 22.7
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 24.1
Apple iPad mini 3 8.9
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 1880
Apple iPad mini 3 999
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 1811
Apple iPad mini 3 1373
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 4488
Apple iPad mini 3 2478
View all

Internet and Connectivity


Size, that’s the sole differentiator when it comes to the web surfing experience with Safari on both iPads. Their performances, not surprisingly, are identical in the way that pages load very quickly, rendering is done instantly on-the-fly, and that navigational controls exhibit that tight and responsive feel. Donning the larger panel, we have more room to work with on the iPad Air 2 – making it the preferred option for the experience.

Screen size is the sole differentiator when it comes to web surfing with Safari on both iPads - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Screen size is the sole differentiator when it comes to web surfing with Safari on both iPads - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Screen size is the sole differentiator when it comes to web surfing with Safari on both iPads - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Screen size is the sole differentiator when it comes to web surfing with Safari on both iPads - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3

Screen size is the sole differentiator when it comes to web surfing with Safari on both iPads


The set of connectivity features in tow with the tablets here are identical. Therefore, they offer aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi.

Camera

The iPad mini 3 takes some very good looking photos and videos with its camera, but the iPad Air 2 produces slightly better ones.

Knowing that they’re running exactly the same experience, iOS 8.1, it shouldn’t shock anyone to know that their camera apps are also identical. Flaunting the same clean interface, with minimal shooting modes and manual controls, they adhere to that principle of simplicity in being able to quickly snap photos – without hesitance or complication. What’s different, though, are the cameras adorning their backs. Specifically, the iPad Air 2 sees an 8-megapixel iSight camera, while the iPad mini 3 is greeted to a 5-megapixel one.

Again, camera apps are identical on the two tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Again, camera apps are identical on the two tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Again, camera apps are identical on the two tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Again, camera apps are identical on the two tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3

Again, camera apps are identical on the two tablets


Well, there’s no questioning the iPad Air 2’s slight superiority in the category, seeing that it delivers just a smidgen more detail with its shots. Under low lighting conditions, it also produces shots that are less noisy. Regardless of its victories, we still can’t count out the iPad mini 3’s camera as well – it’s pretty good too. In fact, the two cameras tend to be identical in the way they deal with exposure and color reproduction.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 2.5
3
No data
No data
Apple iPad mini 3 3.1
3.3
No data
No data
View all

The difference in quality with their still image capture is miniscule, but iPad Air 2 shows to us that it’s considerably better at shooting 1080p videos. Basically, the iPad mini 3 has a tougher time properly focusing – plus, it doesn’t do as nice of a job as the iPad Air 2 when it comes to adjusting its exposure on the fly.



Multimedia

The larger display of the iPad Air 2 again proves that it’s the ideal choice for video watching.

You guessed it folks, we have the same music players with these tablets – so again, not one can outduel the other. Moving over to the audio quality produced by their respective speakers, the iPad Air 2’s set are marginally stronger at 77.9 dB. Nevertheless, the iPad mini 3’s mark of 76.6 dB isn’t bad either, but it’s a bit light on the bass.

We have the same multimedia players with these tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
We have the same multimedia players with these tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
We have the same multimedia players with these tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
We have the same multimedia players with these tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
We have the same multimedia players with these tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
We have the same multimedia players with these tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
We have the same multimedia players with these tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
We have the same multimedia players with these tablets - Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3

We have the same multimedia players with these tablets


With its larger screen size, the iPad Air 2 presents itself as the more ideal choice when it comes to watching videos. It’s still a pretty good experience over on the iPad mini 3, but it doesn’t have the size and iridescence that’s present with the iPad Air 2.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 0.97
Apple iPad mini 3 0.87
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 77.9
Apple iPad mini 3 76.6
View all


Apple iPad Air 2 vs Apple iPad mini 3
Battery

Bigger battery, better battery life. It’s longer with the iPad Air 2.

Due to its larger capacity battery, the iPad Air 2 naturally benefits from having a longer battery life. No doubt, the two are capable of pushing through a solid one-day of normal, but there’s still more juice left in the tank with the iPad Air 2 as we’re readying for bed. In our battery benchmark test, we’re reaffirmed to the obvious, seeing that the iPad Air 2 reaches a mark of 7 hours and 27 minutes – while the iPad mini 3 chimes in at a decent 6 hours and 53 minutes.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Apple iPad Air 2 7h 27 min (Excellent)
Apple iPad mini 3 6h 53 min (Good)
View all

Conclusion


Separated by only $100, it’s really tough for us to recommend going with the iPad mini 3 – even though it’s the cheaper of the two models, at $399. It’s even tougher to swallow knowing that it doesn’t see any major improvements, or differences, with its own predecessor. Flipping it around, the $500 cost of the iPad Air 2 makes plenty of sense, since it’s boasting the better internals and performance. At the same time, we have to point out that the iPad Air 2’s larger size makes it more ideal for certain things – such as typing up documents, surfing the web, and watching videos. And best of all, it’s incredibly thin with its construction! Unless you prefer the more compact size of the iPad mini 3, don’t waste your money picking it up knowing that the iPad Air 2 is without question the superior tablet.