Introduction

The iPad Air 2 may have stolen all the spotlight, but that's not because of poor marketing planning. Apple did little to change the third generation of the iPad mini so it got little stage time. But it's not our job to decide which product gets the most fanfare. Our job is to see whether it's worth your money.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 official pictures

The list of the new features of the new iPad mini 3 is one really short list. The Home button now doubles as a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. There is also a new golden paintjob available along with the usual Space Gray and Silver. Oh, and the 32GB model is now axed - you only get to pick from 16, 64 and 128GB options.

Everything else is completely identical to the iPad mini 2 - the 7.9" Retina display, the Apple A7 chipset, the 5MP rear camera, and the thin and light aluminum unibody. No matter how small the hardware bump however the Apple iPad mini 3 remains one really powerful slate, positioned near the top of the food chain as far as tablets go. Let's explore it in detail.

Key features:

  • Metal unibody, 7.5mm slim, 331g of weight
  • Optional LTE connectivity (Cat. 4, 150Mbps downlink)
  • 7.9" 1,536 x 2,048 LED-backlit IPS LCD with 324 ppi pixel density
  • Apple iOS 8
  • Dual-core 1.3 GHz Apple A7 chipset, M7 motion co-processor, PowerVR GX6430 GPU, 1GB of RAM
  • 5MP autofocus camera, 1080p@30fps, 1.2MP front-facing camera
  • 16/64/128GB of built-in storage
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the Home button
  • 6,471 mAh battery

Main disadvantages:

  • No microSD slot
  • Pricey memory upgrades, 32GB version should have been standard
  • No NFC connectivity, Apple Pay has limited functionality
  • Apple iOS 8 still relies on iTunes for music and file transfers

The Apple iPad mini 3 is a pricey little tablet, but it has powerful hardware and a beautiful screen. It probably isn't worth the upgrade if you are coming from the iPad mini 2, but as a standalone purchase it sure looks attractive.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 live pictures

Quite expectedly, the iPad mini 3 inherits all limitations the previous generation suffered from, but Apple made it clear throughout the years some things will probably never change. So the lack of memory expansion and the non-users replaceable battery shouldn't be a surprise by now.

Enough with the introductions, our traditional hardware checkup begins on the next page.

Unboxing the Apple iPad mini 3

The retail box of the Apple iPad mini 3 covers just the basics - a wall charger and a Lightning cable. We would have really appreciated a pair of EarPods, but Apple has never supplied headphones with its slates (neither do most other tablet manufacturers).

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 retail box

Design and build quality

The new Apple iPad mini 3 is absolutely identical to its predecessor down to the very last metal bone. Its unibody shell is made out of aluminum, finished with tapered edges while its display is covered by a protective glass with oleophobic coating.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 next to and iPad mini 2

Just like the iPad mini 2, the new iPad mini 3 bets on the luxurious looks and it does look gorgeous. The slate is among the best looking devices on the market and this will probably stay this way at least for another year. It is designed and build with great attention to detail and no matter if you are an iFan or not, you have to acknowledge Apple's excellent choice of design and materials.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3

But the iPad mini 3 isn't only a great looking device. It feels amazing in hand, pleasant to touch and hold, with good enough grip. The unibody has more than solid build as you can expect. Overall, handling the slate is a pleasure. It feels best when operated with two hands, but thanks to its lightweight unibody it is possible to work with the iPad mini 3 single-handedly.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Handling the iPad mini 3

Controls

Above the screen we find the same 1.2MP resolution front-facing camera as last year's. It's capable of 720p video capture. Next to it, there's an ambient light sensor, which helps in adjusting the screen brightness automatically.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

A peek above and below the display

Under the screen is the Home key, now upgraded with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It works just like on the iPhone and enhances the security of your Apple Device.

There are no controls on the left side of the Apple iPad mini 3, while on the right we find the two volume keys and the Mute switch (that one can also lock screen orientation if you choose so in the system settings).

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

The sides of the tablet

The Apple iPad mini 3, just like its predecessors, features a stereo speaker setup at the bottom, flanking the Lightning port. The speakers aren't loud, but their sound quality is good.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

The speakers and the Lightning port

The issue with the speaker setup remains the same as before - they are really easy to muffle with your hand when holding the iPad mini in landscape orientation. Also they are so close together that we couldn't spot a perceivable stereo effect in whatever game or video.

The top of the iPad mini has the 3.5mm audio jack, the power/lock key and the microphone, which is used in FaceTime/Skype calls and the likes.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

The top of the iPad mini 3

The second microphone is on the back of the slate, close to the primary one and it allows noise cancellation when using FaceTime or Siri. The 5 MP camera is around the back, too. It's the same camera as the one on the iPad mini 2, packing an F/2.4 aperture and autofocus. There is no LED flash, just like before.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

On the back: the camera lens and the second mic

7.9" Retina display

The Apple iPad mini 3 display is identical to the one on the iPad mini 2 - a 7.9" IPS Retina display of 2048 x 1536px that break down to around 324ppi, a nice pixel density for a slate. In fact, it's the same resolution as the one on the iPad Air 2, so the pixel density is higher than the one on the bigger iPad.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 display • the iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 2 displays

Here's what the iPad mini 3 display looks like under our digital microscope.

Apple iPad Mini 3

The Apple iPad mini 3 showed solid numbers in our dedicated display test and pretty much the same as its predecessor. Compared to the iPad mini 2 it offers a slightly higher brightness at both 50% and 100% but a slightly lower contrast ratio.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Apple iPad mini 0.25 208 838 0.51 458 812
Apple iPad mini 2 0.2 167 835 0.56 450 804
Apple iPad mini 3 0.23 184 808 0.65 515 799
Apple iPad Air 0.19 181 968 0.53 508 964
Apple iPad Air 2 0.16 171 1045 0.44 458 1048
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact - - - 0.45 631 1416
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 221 398


Battery life

Apple iPad mini 3 is identical to its predecessor and has a 6470mAh capacity. The video playback test turned out surprisingly better than the iPad mini 2, while the web browsing performance took a small hit. This might as well be iOS 8's fault, as our iPad mini 2 results were measured on iOS 7 last year.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Video playback

  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    13:21
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
    12:52
  • Apple iPad mini
    12:51
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    12:48
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    12:22
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    10:25

Web browsing

  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    18:09
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    13:12
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    11:02
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    10:47
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
    9:33
  • Apple iPad mini
    9:05

If you are interested how these results compare to other tested devices, check out our battery life test result table.

Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

Connectivity

The Apple iPad mini 3 offers a plethora of connectivity options. Unfortunately, there are hardly any updates in this department. The new iPad mini 3 retains the same Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n support with MIMO technology (dual antennas for better signal). Unlike the Air 2, there is no Wi-Fi 802.11ac support.

The Wi-Fi+Cellular iPad mini 3 supports LTE Cat.3 with 100 Mbps downlink and support for a total of 17 LTE bands in all model variations.

Apple has designed its own SIM solution as well, dubbed Apple SIM. It allows a single carrier-agnostic SIM to connect to AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the US and Everything Everywhere (EE) in the UK depending on your initial setup (and contract, of course). The solution has seen resistance from some of the carriers though so don't expect it to work as advertised just yet.

Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and EDR is here and, complete with Wi-Fi, facilitating Apple's AirDrop, which can share docs and files across iOS devices and the latest MacBooks with OS X Yosemite. Using AirDrop for transfers to non-Apple certified devices is a no-go.

AirDrop is available in every share menu throughout the iOS 8.1. You can send pictures, videos, App Store and iTunes links, Notes, Maps links, all kind of files from file managing apps (i.e. Filer, Flash Drive, Air Disk, etc.), Office docs, and more. If there are people with an active AirDrop service around you, they will automatically appear in the dedicated AirDrop field. You just mark your files, select the recipient and hit the send key.

AirPlay can wirelessly stream your iPad mini 3 screen to an Apple TV, HDTV or compatible audio systems.

Regular USB mass storage isn't available but there's a workaround using the iTunes computer software. You can store whatever files you want on the iPad, but those are only made available to the app that you've dropped them onto. Good thing is you are not restricted to files compatible with the said app and you can simply drag & drop files that you would download on another computer later on.

The iPad mini 3 Wi-Fi + Cellular has a built-in A-GPS receiver with GLONASS support, but the Wi-Fi only tablet does not have it (this is standard for iPads).

Apple is continually improving its Find My iPad service. The iOS 7 update brought the so-called Activation Lock. This will not only protect your personal data but will also make your iDevice inoperable once wiped, unless you enter your Apple ID. This means the stolen or lost iGadgets will be of no use to thieves or finders. Of course, this protection is not bulletproof and experienced hackers will have a ball with your iPad, but this might as well make your Average Joe think twice about keeping your iPad to themselves.

Finally, the hot handoff feature is available as well and works great between the iPad mini 3 and any other iOS 8 or Mac OS X Yosemite device. We'll get into details in a bit.

Apple iOS 8.1 on the iPad mini 3

The Apple iPad mini 3 runs on the latest version of iOS - 8.1 - but looks unchanged compared to iOS 7. It has a flat, colorful look with fresh icons and transparent elements throughout the OS. Here's a brief look at what iOS 8.1 looks like on the latest iPad.

The lockscreen is the same clean affair. It features a swipe to unlock and camera shortcut. A double press of the Home key will bring up the multimedia controls as usual. Lockscreen notifications are available as well.

You can passcode-protect the lockscreen but with the iPad mini 3 you can also finger-lock it thanks to Touch ID. The Touch ID sensor offers 360-degree readability translating into effortless scanning of your fingerprint. Apple has integrated Touch ID as an added security measure, but it'll still allow you to use your passcode as a backup form of validation. Enabling passcode is also a mandatory requirement in order to use Touch ID.

You can commit up to five fingerprint samples (yours or those of family and friends), which is cool for setting a limited list of people with access to your device. Apple warns that with all five fingerprint slots filled in, the Touch ID sensor operation may take a slight performance hit.

As of iOS 8 the Touch ID is available to developers and they can used it for third-party security layers and authorizations. The developers can't gain access to your actual fingerprints, nobody can. They just can use the Touch ID service.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Lockscreen

Since the iPad mini 3 doesn't have NFC it can't be used for Apple Pay's main service, sorry. But you still can authorize online payments once Apple Pay begins competing with PayPal.

Apple iOS 8 looks the same as its predecessor. All of your apps are on the homescreen, folders are available and there is the familiar dock that can take up to six shortcuts. System icons, color themes and transparency - everything is like we left it in iOS 7.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Homescreen

The Notification Center has changed a bit more sine iOS 7. The All and Missed tabs are now gone, replaced by a unified Notification tab. The Today section has been improved and you can jump to its editing options from the bottom of the page.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Notification center

The interaction with the pop-up notifications has been improved. Now you can quickly reply right inside the notification banner, discard calendar alarms, mark tasks as complete, comment and like on Facebook, among others.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Interacting with popup notifications

While the refined Notification Center might look insignificant, it is among the places expected to make a big difference, in terms of usability. It has been unlocked to developers and various apps already offer interactive widgets. Unfortunately those have a long way ahead before they turn out as useful as Apple had in mind in the first place.

Control center is the same with controls for music, volume slider, brightness slider, camera shortcut, timer shortcut, AirDrop menu and six toggles for Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Silent and Rotation lock.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Control center • Spotlight

The task-switcher interface is invoked with a double press on the Home key. All apps are presented with cards that you can swipe up to close. Each card has the respective app icon so you can easily recognize what's what.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Task switcher

Apple made a big deal of the Spotlight update - the unified search tool now supports smart suggestions. Spotlight is now capable of pulling suggestions from Wikipedia, IMDb, an assortment of news sources, nearby places, App Store and iTunes content, iBooks and more. This is indeed a tremendous usability boost. By the way, suggestions work within the Safari browser too.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Spotlight

Another notable improvement over the previous iOS version is enabling developers to add their own sharing options or actions in the iOS contextual menus. For example, if you have an app that sends files over Bluetooth, it can integrate with the iOS contextual menus and there you go - you get standard Bluetooth file sharing in just one click. You can edit the available sharing options and actions in these menus, so they don't get cluttered.

The Open In option is available as well - you can redirect any file of unknown format from anywhere to any app you want. For example you open a document within your Dropbox and they you can choose Open In and open (a copy of) the file with an office editor of your choice.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

This is where the new sharing and action plugins appear • Open In

Apple has finally added battery usage stats in the Settings menu. There you can find which app drained your battery and how (low signal, background usage, etc.). You get daily and weekly stats.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Battery stats

Do Not Disturb mode is available on the iPad mini 3. It gives users further control of notifications, or rather their suppression. If turned on, it will mute incoming FaceTime calls or alerts. You can allow FaceTime calls from your favorite contacts and have the option to set a specific time interval in which you won't get any notifications.

The intelligent voice assistant Siri got better with iOS 8. Its most important new addition is the Shazam integration. There is no need to ask Siri to recognize a song - just open Siri and let it listen - then it will tell you the name of the song and will provide you with an iTunes link. Another new cool option is voice activation. If your iDevice is hooked up on a charger/cable you can summon Siri by saying "Hey, Siri".

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Siri UI

Siri can carry out commands affecting the iOS - it can turn Bluetooth or Wi-Fi on/off, increase brightness, play voicemails, check other people's social network status, play iTunes Radio stations, etc. It is a really powerful voice assistant capable of even POI search. Assistance with restaurant booking is part of Siri's set of skills. It will find you exactly the restaurant you are looking for and filter the results based on user reviews. You can run impressively detailed searches based on food type, location, outdoor, pool, price range, ratings, etc. This feature is not available in every country, though.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Siri in action

Siri also answer slots of questions and including game scores. History, stats, player bios, player comparison, teams, records, etc. Siri should be able to return most of the info right onto its own screen, without switching over to the browser. The same applies to movies. You will get all of your movie-related answers right inside the Siri window - anything about actors, directors, awards, movie stats, premieres and tickets, reviews, trailers, etc. Siri also comes with Wikipedia integration.

Finally, Siri in iOS 8 can take dictation in 24 new languages, which will spare lots of people some typing on the keyboard.

iOS 8 brings a very familiar user interface and logic of operations with minor improvements towards better customization. We've yet to see how this will turn out once the developers start offering various interactive widgets, sharing options and actions, but the platform should benefit a lot.

The four/five-finger multi-tasking gestures are also available on the iPad mini 3. You can switch between the active apps using four (or five)-finger swipes. A similar swipe to the top will bring you the task switcher. Finally, you can use four (or five as it feels more natural) finger pinch zoom out. It will bring you the homescreen, while the app will go in background.

iOS 8 offers native integration with Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr but no new services, sadly.

Handoff and continuity

The new Handoff option is probably the most advertised iOS 8 feature. It allows you to start something on one Apple device and continue working on it on another. For example, you can start writing an email on your iPhone, get close to your Mac or iPad and you will be able to continue what you are working on from there. This works between iOS 8 running iPhones, iPods and iPads and Max OS X Yosemite powered Macs.

Apple iPad mini 3

And it goes beyond emails and messages. The continuity feature is available for Safari, Maps, Reminders, Calendars, Contacts, Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Any Wi-Fi enabled iOS 8-running iPad or a Mac OS X Yosemite is also capable of picking your iOS 8 iPhone calls up. You can answer and make calls on your iPad or Mac via your iPhone thanks to the Handoff feature - the only other requirement besides the OS version is that all devices need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

 Apple iPad mini 3

Apple guessed that anyone making calls via Handoff will eventually need to send SMS/MMS/iMessages the same way, so the functionality has been implemented. Just open your Messaging app on your iPad or Mac and you can send whatever message you want thanks to your iPhone connection.

Finally, there is a new Hotspot feature that once enabled will automatically set up a mobile connection for your iPads and Macs. You don't need to do anything! Your iPhone will know when your iPad or Mac stop using the hotspot and will automatically turn it off.

Performance

The Apple iPad mini 3 runs on the previous generation A7 chip, which powers the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air and mini 2. It packs a 64-bit dual-core Cyclone processor clocked at 1.3GHz, snappy PowerVR G6430 graphics and 1GB of RAM. We've already met with the Retina display and Apple A7 combo on the Apple iPad mini 2, so we kind of expected a similar performance with the iPad mini 3.

So without any further ado let's jump straight into the CPU performance. We tested Geekbench 3 and Basemark OS II on the latest iPad mini 3 and it is on par with its iPad mini 2 and iPad Air predecessors. The current generation iPad mini 3 is very close to the most popular Android slates out there - the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. The Tegra K1-running HTC Nexus 9 and Xiaomi Mi Pad are quite ahead of it though.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Apple iPad Air 2
    4464
  • HTC Nexus 9
    3470
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    3276
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
    2867
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2856
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (Exynos)
    2781
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    2512
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    2486
  • Apple iPad Air
    2388
  • Apple iPad mini
    492

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Apple iPad Air 2
    1937
  • HTC Nexus 9
    1890
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1192
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    1167
  • Apple iPad Air
    1128
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    1099
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    1073
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (Exynos)
    768
  • Apple iPad mini
    336

Graphics are well handled on the iPad mini 3, though once again not as impressive as it is the competition today. It matched the performance of the Apple A7-based iPad Air and iPad mini 2, as well as the latest Samsung and Sony offerings, but it is just behind the curve when you add the Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9, the HTC Nexus 9 and the latest Apple iPad Air 2 with A8 chip.

These conclusions apply for both the offscreen and onscreen tests.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPad Air 2
    70.4
  • HTC Nexus 9
    60.2
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    53.1
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    28.2
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    27.4
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
    26
  • Apple iPad Air
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (Exynos)
    20.5
  • Apple iPad mini
    3.5

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPad Air 2
    52.2
  • HTC Nexus 9
    46.2
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    41.3
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    39.6
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    23
  • Apple iPad Air
    21
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (Exynos)
    13.6
  • Apple iPad mini
    6.5

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPad Air 2
    32.6
  • HTC Nexus 9
    31.5
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    27.3
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    13.1
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    11.8
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
    8.9
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (Exynos)
    5.6

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    25.4
  • Apple iPad Air 2
    24.7
  • HTC Nexus 9
    22.6
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    19.8
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    8.9
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
    5
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (Exynos)
    2.9

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Apple iPad Air 2
    29753
  • HTC Nexus 9
    28244
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    24456
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    14781
  • Apple iPad Air
    13597
  • Apple iPad mini 2
    13286
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    12080

And finally we're looking at JavaScript performance on Mozilla's Kraken 1.1 test. Here the Apple iPad mini 3 showed stellar performance, even though it was bested by some of its competitors.

We couldn't test BrowserMark 2.1 as the iPad mini 3 had an issue with its page and kept reloading so we cannot give a statement on HTML 5 performance just yet.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • HTC Nexus 9
    3953
  • Apple iPad Air 2
    4054
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    4647
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (Exynos)
    4927
  • Apple iPad mini 3
    5382
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    6480
  • Apple iPad mini
    28999

The Apple iPad mini 3 provides very good performance and you'll hardly find any app that won't run properly on it. The thing that bothers us, is the competition is getting really tough and the iPad mini 3 is already behind at launch. But for what's worth, the slate is fast, snappy and responsive and you'll probably find nothing to complain of.

Contacts

The phonebook on the Apple iPad mini 3 has remained unchanged in iOS 8 but now you can opt not to show the contact photos in your Favorite tab. The logic behind the phonebook app is completely the same though, Blacklist is available too.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Contacts

As usual the phonebook offers Facebook and Twitter integration. After you set up your accounts the phonebook will automatically ask you to link your existing contacts with their social ones (if available).

The phonebook can search via the dedicated Search field at the top of the list of contacts or you can use the alphabetical scroll at the right.

Since iOS 6 your iMessage and FaceTime ID is joined and the phonebook will automatically detect if either service is available with each contact.

FaceTime HD

FaceTime works both over a cellular data or Wi-Fi. The service now offers voice calls too, in addition to video conference chats. With FaceTime audio calls and iMessages, iOS users probably won't need third-party apps as much to connect with other iOS users.

Apple iPad Mini 3

FaceTime

The dual microphones on the iPad mini 3 combine to reduce noise during a video. If you're doing a FaceTime call and switch from the front-facing to the rear-facing camera the microphones switch so that your voice always comes in clean.

The Apple iPad mini 3 scored a below average mark in our loudspeaker test. It blasts audio from two speakers on the bottom of the slate and the sound is of very high quality. It's also deep to the point where it lightly shakes the tablet when audio is running. And yet it isn't as loud as the iPad Air 2.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Apple iPad mini 3 65.6 63.1 70.6 Below Average
Apple iPad mini 2 65.7 62.1 72.3 Below Average
Apple iPad mini 68.2 65.7 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 68.7 66.5 75.8 Good
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 75.7 66.6 76.8 Very Good
Apple iPad Air 2 75.3 70.9 78 Very Good
Apple iPad Air 2 75.3 70.9 78 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9 75.7 69.6 82.7 Very Good
OnePlus One 74.8 73.5 80.2 Excellent


iMessage

iMessage works on the Apple iPad mini 3. It has a very simple interface showing you the threaded conversations and tapping on a contact gives you the option to initiate a FaceTime call or video chat.

Now it's easier to attach pictures or video with the newly introduced recent row. It has about 20 of your latest images/videos in the gallery.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

iMessage

Naturally, the iMessage service is onboard. It lets you exchange instant messages between iOS 5 or later running iGadgets over Wi-Fi or 3G. You can send plain text as well as multimedia (pictures, sounds, videos) messages.

If you are texting someone with iMessage activated, you'll see a new Mic icon on the right. A tap and hold on the Mic will record a voice message and an upwards swipe will send it. If the person on the other end is on an older iOS version they will receive it as an .amr attachment and still be able to play it.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Voice messages

Mail and keyboard

The Mail app got a subtly refreshed interface too with some extra useful functions and gestures.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Mail

VIP lists are available - emails from people on the list will be delivered to a dedicated VIP mailbox and will appear highlighted in the regular inbox. You can also set a different notification regime for VIP emails - so they appear on the lockscreen, for example.

Moving on to the keyboard, which is also improved in iOS 8. It looks the same though it has been upgraded with predictive input called QuickType. Over time, the iOS will learn from your typing pattern, vocabulary, people you write often to and topics. It will eventually understand the subject of each thread and base suggestions on whether the communication is formal or casual.

Apple says the algorithm is really smart and understands everything and suggests prompt responses. Many competitive keyboards on other platforms are already doing similar things plus they are swype-enabled.

Siri-powered dictation is available pretty much in any app that supports keyboard input. You need just to hit the corresponding button on your keyboard and start dictating.

You can undock the keyboard, which places it dead center on the screen. You can then move it up or down, depending on what's underneath and where you would like to place it.

You can also split the keyboard in two by doing a simple pinch gesture on it or selecting it from the keyboard options. This is pretty useful in both portrait and landscape orientations if you have to type while holding the tablet - reaching the middle of the screen with your thumbs is hard, even when you hold the iPad Air in portrait orientation.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Keyboard

You can, finally, add third party keyboards to the Apple iPad since iOS 8. Below you can see Swiftkey but there are a number of others available.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Third party keyboards

Same old 5MP iSight snapper

The Apple iPad mini 3 keeps the camera from the original iPad mini - a 5MP shooter that can record 1080p video. The front-facing FaceTime camera has not changed much either, it offers the same resolution.

The viewfinder is improved courtesy of iOS 8. If you tap to focus on the screen, the _phone_ will give you an optional exposure compensation slider. You can, of course, lock the focus and exposure too but that isn't new.

Everything is on the right side so that it would be easier to reach - switch to front facing camera, HDR and timer are above the virtual shutter and the carousel of shooting modes are below it. You can swipe between time-lapse, video, the default photo mode, square and pano.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Camera interface

The Apple iPad mini 3 captures uninspiring 5MP photos. There's enough resolved detail in the image, but there samples are really noisy and the noise reduction algorithm, when applied, tends to smudge the fine detail.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 camera samples

Colors are warm although they aren't as saturated as those coming from an iPhone. The white balance was correct despite the overcast conditions in which we shot the images and the dynamic range appears very wide from light to dark areas of the frame.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 camera samples

The built-in HDR mode on recent iDevices continues to be less than impressive. The image dynamic range is very good to begin with but the HDR doesn't do much to improve it. Sometimes shadows are brightened up a bit, or the highlights are toned down, but never both, resulting in a very subtle HDR effect.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

HDR Off • HDR On

Panoramas on the iPad mini 3 offers the same quality and resolution as on the iPhone 5. You can take 180-degree samples with resolution up to 11000 x 2500. The panoramic shots have great stitching, good dynamic range, there is plenty of detail, but the noise is high again.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 panorama sample

If you want to further pixel peep you can check out our photo quality comparison tool below.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Apple iPad mini 3 in our photo quality comparison tool

1080p video recording and 30 fps

The iPad mini 3's camera records 1080p video at 30fps. Note that the front-facing camera doesn't have enough resolution for 1080p, so you'll have to make do with 720p for video selfies.

During video recording you can change the focus point and zoom, but there's no option to snap a photo (that option was very limited on the iPhone so we don't miss it).

The standard 1080p videos @ 30fps are captured at a bitrate of 17Mbps, which is about average for Androids too. Most disappointingly, the iPad mini 2 continues to capture mono sound (64Kbps, 44.1kHz) just like its predecessor and the iPhone 5s. Why Apple refuses to do stereo sound in video is beyond us.

Other than that, the video quality is good - that is, if you shoot in broad daylight. The videos come out smooth, there is enough detail, but the noise levels are high. Saturation seems to be fine. There's no pixilation or jumpy continuous autofocus, which are our most common complaints for other mobile cameras

You can also download an untouched 1080p@30fps.

You can check out the Apple iPad mini 3 in our dedicated video comparison tool and compare it to any other device out of the many we've tested.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Apple iPad mini 3 in our video quality comparison tool

Gallery

Apple has upgraded the default gallery with a new Search option. The smart suggestions implemented within the new Spotlight and Safari browser work here too. You can search by place, date, people, nearby location, etc.

Just like before, images are organized by date and location, for those that have been geo-tagged. This view is called Moments. You can go a step back, to Collections view where you can better view your sorted photos into groups with labels and much smaller thumbs. Finally, there is the Year view. It squeezes your collection into tight grids for each year.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Gallery

There is a new default album called Recently Deleted. It stores your recently erased photos for 30 days before deletes them for good. Each photo shows the days remaining until deletion. It works like a recycle bin and, of course, you can restore the files you want.

Shared photos are available - the tab has all your Photo streams. Photo Stream, which acts like a social sub-network, works really well and is very simple to set up. You choose what pictures to share and which people to share with. Your buddies on the receiving end will be able to like them and post comments. You can invite users you want to share your Photo Streams with via email or get invited. If you are using the new Family Sharing options you can easily configure Photo Streams shared between your homegroup.

If your iCloud Drive is active you can gain access to your cloud gallery and browse it on the iPad mini 3 without the need of storing it locally. If you have opted to store everything in your iCloud Drive, you can save precious space and still have access to your images and videos. You'll need a working internet connection, of course, and the iCloud Drive free quota is only 5GB.

Viewing images on the Apple iPad mini 3 is a pleasure thanks to its superb display.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Viewing a photo

One of the major new additions to the Photos app is the new integrated image editor. It supports standard features such as crop, rotate and filters, but it also offers advanced settings allowing full control over light (exposure, highlights, shadows, brightness, contrast, black point), color (saturation, contrast, cast), black & white (intensity, neutrals, tone, grain). In case you aren't into meddling with your photos, you can use the new intelligent Auto Enhance feature, which will do things automatically for you.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Editing an image

Thanks to the new third-party access to the Photos SKD, now developers are able to add their own editing settings, filters, sharing options, among others.

Music

The music player hasn't changed its white, flat looks but has gained new functionality. You can create playlists, delete songs right from within the player and reorder tabs whichever way you like. Album view is available too - you access it by flipping the device landscape. It lists all the covers to the albums you have in your library. Tapping on an album thumb lists all the tracks in it.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Music player

The Now Playing screen hasn't changed in functionality neither is the settings. Even in its seventh major iteration iOS still fails to offer configurable equalizers.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Now playing • EQ

If you are logged in with an Apple ID that supports iTunes Radio (it's a regional thing), your iOS 8 music player will get an additional iTunes Radio tab. It's a music streaming service with a huge selection from the iTunes Store available for streaming.

The stations are divided by genres, but once you add a station, you can choose to remove artists or add more songs from an artist/group. You can preview a station before adding it to your list.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

iTunes Radio

In case you like a particular song, you can buy it with just one tap. History is available and you can always return to buy songs later. A Wish List is available as well.

iTunes Radio is ad-free if you are an iTunes Match subscriber. Otherwise, every 7 to 10 songs are interrupted by about 15sec worth of commercials.

Videos

The videos app allows you to upload only supported formats via iTunes or purchase videos from the iTunes store. This is an extremely disappointing showing by a platform that is supposed to excel at multimedia consumption.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Video player

The lack of extra functionality is bad enough, but having to use just an extremely limited number of media formats or resorting to converting files, which is both slow and inconvenient is a real deal-breaker if you think your shiny new tablet should be able to easily playback anything you throw at it.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Playing a video

Top-notch audio quality

The audio output is yet another area where the iPad Air mini 3 isn't much different from its predecessor. However, this time this is good news as the new compact slate delivers the flawless audio output we've come to expect from Apple's devices.

When used with an active external amplifier the iPad mini 3 gets excellent scores for clarity and matches that with excellently high volume levels. Plug in a pair of headphones and you get a minor spike in stereo crosstalk, but no other degradation whatsoever. It doesn't get much better than that.

Check out the table and see for yourself.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Apple iPad mini 3 +0.09, -0.48 -93.7 93.7 0.0015 0.0071 -85.2
Apple iPad mini 3 (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.01 -93.6 93.6 0.0048 0.047 -69.7
Apple iPad mini 2 +0.04, -0.39 -93.8 93.7 0.0011 0.0067 -82.9
Apple iPad mini 2 (headphones attached) +0.11, -0.00 -93.6 93.6 0.0023 0.030 -62.2
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 +0.05, -0.02 -95.7 92.3 0.0044 0.0096 -96.0
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (headphones attached) +0.01, -0.05 -95.7 92.1 0.012 0.014 -44.4
Apple iPad Air 2 +0.01, -0.03 -93.9 93.9 0.0015 0.0065 -83.9
Apple iPad Air 2 (headphones attached) +0.04, -0.01 -93.8 93.8 0.0053 0.052 -69.1
Apple iPad Air +0.09, -0.29 -93.9 93.9 0.0016 0.0067 -89.9
Apple iPad Air (headphones attached) +0.05, -0.32 -94.0 94.0 0.0040 0.015 -66.2
HTC Nexus 9 +0.06, -0.01 -94.7 92.7 0.0054 0.015 -93.7
HTC Nexus 9 (headphones attached) +0.04, -0.04 -94.9 92.8 0.015 0.053 -71.1


Apple iPad mini 3 frequency response

Apple iPad mini 3 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Safari

Courtesy of iOS 8 the iPad Safari web browser welcomes third-party developers too. It now supports extension access via its contextual menu. They will be able to auto-fill forms, use the Touch ID security features and translate webpages. It's up to the developers to come up with creative uses and hopefully we'll get a lot of those soon.

Other than the Safari extensions, Apple has improved its Private Browsing. It's more intuitive now and won't make you convert all of your currently opened tabs into Private ones.

As we mentioned in the user interface chapter, the smart suggestions from Wikipedia and the App Store/iTunes Store work within the Safari browser, too.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Safari

Safari supports the iCloud keychain where you can store all of your passwords and credit card info (sans the security code). There is also a password generator available, in case you are out of ideas. What's good about this setup is that all your save content from the computer version of Safari is now available straight on your _phone_ as well.

In much the same way, iCloud syncs your opened tabs, along with offline reading. Safari also allows you access to your multimedia content without exiting the browser.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Safari

Much like before, if a page is compatible with the integrated Reader (most of the article pages out there are), you get a Reader button right into the address bar as soon as the page loads. The Reader strips the webpage of ads and makes the layout and font size more suited to a smaller phone screen.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Reading list • RSS

iTunes and App stores

The iTunes store is where you get music, videos, TV shows, movies, podcasts and ringtones. The tabbed interface is similar to that of the AppStore, divided into Music, Movies, Search, Tones and More.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

iTunes store

The App store on the iPad mini 3 has a better and smarter search with a new interface, App Bundles offered by devs, embedded videos in the app descriptions a la Google Play Store, and devs will be able to invite users to closed beta testing of future versions of their apps.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

App store

We've yet to see a beta section in the App Store making an appearance and how the beta app seeding will work. The promised App Bundles are already available though and many developers are now offering app bundles on discounted prices.

Other apps

Another upgrade that was well overdue is iCloud Drive. Apple has taken steps to evolve your iCloud Storage to a competitive cloud service to match Dropbox or OneDrive. Besides backing up your entire camera roll, it is instantly synced in the cloud and accessible from your other iOS devices, Macs and PCs.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

iCloud

You can store any file on the iCloud Drive, not just pictures and videos, as any other services would allow you to. The Handoff feature relies heavily on the iCloud Drive - this is a document you've opened on your iPhone would be handed over to your iPad or Mac. If you don't use iCloud Drive this file continuity wouldn't be possible.

Naturally, you can choose what files and app data gets synced in your iCloud Drive. There is an option to choose cellular data where a Wi-Fi connection isn't available.

Unfortunately, Apple is still only giving 5GB of cloud storage for free and some of it is already used by your iCloud backups. If you want more, you'll have to pay extra.

Apple iPad Mini 3

iCloud Drive

AirDrop is naturally present on the iPad mini 3. It's a system-wide file sharing service between supported iDevices (including Macs running OS X Maverics and above), which needs to have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on to work.

AirDrop is available in every share menu throughout the iOS. You can send pictures, videos, App Store and iTunes links, Notes, Maps links, all kind of files from file managing apps (i.e. Filer, Flash Drive, Air Disk, etc.), Office docs, and more.

If there are people with AirDrop service around you, they will automatically appear in the dedicated AirDrop field. You just mark your files, select people and hit the send key.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

AirDrop

Another major addition in the new iOS 8 is the Family Share setup and features. It allows up to six users to make iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases with a single credit card. Family photos, calendar entries and locations can also be shared.

The credit card owner and group admin may opt to authorize each purchase requested by other members in the group - i.e. your kids. Thus you have full control over the purchased content - same goes for sharing requests.

If Family Sharing enabled on a range of devices, you will be able to find each one of them on a map - handy if you want to know where your kids (or spouse) are at any time.

The clock and calendar apps are here. Clock can show you the time around the world, setup alarms, a timer and a stopwatch.

Calendar hasn't received any new functionality but remains great regardless. It can sync multiple calendar accounts at once, divide events by type (each type like Birthdays, Work, Family, etc. can be color-coded) and has the standard viewing modes - Day, Week, Month and Year. You also get an Agenda view under the search field which lists all the events in a timeline.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Clock • Calendar

Notes give you rich text formatting while Reminders has remained the same. You can schedule reminders for a time and even place.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Notes • Reminders

The iBooks is now a default part of the iOS package. Its interface mimics that of the App Store, but the first tab is still your virtual bookshelf.

Apple iPad Mini 3

iBooks

With every newly activated iPad mini 3 you also get the complete iWorks suite including Pages (viewing, editing docs), Numbers (viewing, editing excel files), and Keynote (viewing, editing presentations).

Pages allows you to import, create or edit documents (DOC and DOCX are supported). It isn't as powerful as some of its Android counterparts, but it covers all the basics and will do an excellent job for most users.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Pages

Keynote opens and edits (PowerPoint) presentations. It has all the tools you'll need to create a decent presentation from scratch, including tons of beautifully designed themes. You get comprehensive editing options including adding multimedia, tablets, charts and customizable transitions.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Keynote

Numbers supports Excel files and also covers all major features you'll probably need - charts, formulas, tablet formatting, the lot. There are many themes that will help you quickly create complicated spreadsheets even if you don't know how to do a scatter chart (looking at how the templates work is a good way to learn).

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Numbers

You can easily import files via iTunes and use iCloud for backup and sync.

iTunes U is a very powerful app few people use on a daily basis. It has a priceless catalogue of courses and lectures from many Universities in the world on just about any science you'd want to get into and is worth checking out.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

iTunes U

Apple replaced Google with TomTom as map provider for the iOS native Maps application. It also offers voice-guided navigation courtesy of Siri. The navigation will work even on the lockscreen or in the background. Real-time traffic reports are available and Apple is also crowdsourcing the live traffic info anonymously from iOS users on the road. Turn-by-turn walking directions are available as well.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Maps

The 3D Flyover mode is a great bonus for your viewing pleasure. When you enable the 3D view (outside navigation) you will be able to explore cityscapes from birds-eye view. The currently available selection is quite limited, but more and more areas are joining Flyover in time. You can zoom, tilt and rotate using two-finger gestures to explore 3D landmarks rendered in real time.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Maps

The Wi-Fi only iPad mini 3 doesn't have a GPS so Maps is best reserved for indoor use and less so for navigating the great outdoors.

Photo Booth uses the new front-facing camera to create a series of effects. You can choose among them and the effect changes when you move your face in front of the camera.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Photo Booth

Final words

On its own, the Apple iPad mini 3 is great all-round tablet. It has everything a slate of its caliber should offer - a minimalistic design, an amazing attention to detail, an excellent display. All that backed by the fluid iOS 8 and the amazing App Store variety makes for an overall excellent slate.

There's no escaping the fact however that the Apple iPad mini 3 is just a minor update over the previous generation and since the iPad mini 2 can still be found at a noticeably cheaper price makes the new arrival that bit harder to sell.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple could have elevated the new mini model to the iPad Air 2 greatness, but instead they chose to leave it where it was a year ago. Is the new iPhone 6 Plus changing the company's take on the smaller iPad or has it been uncomfortably eating into the iPad Air sales to begin with? We don't know, but we would have surely appreciated improvement in more departments.

Now let's take a closer look at our key test findings and check what the iPad mini 3 got right, and what not.

Key test findings

  • The aluminum unibody has great build quality
  • Good display quality, though it's not improved over last generation
  • Battery life is very good, though it's not improved over last generation
  • Connectivity to other devices is limited, sharing almost exclusive to the iOS/OS X ecosystem
  • iOS 8 is fast and fluid but not as customizable as Android
  • Touch ID works flawlessly, adds a welcomed new level of security
  • The Apple A7 chipset is capable enough to handle everything in the App Store, but is not future proof for graphics
  • Speakers are quite easily muffled with hand and are not very loud to begin with, though they have excellent sound quality
  • Uninspiring default video player, no subtitles support, extremely limited codec support
  • Splendid audio output quality
  • The main camera does OK in good light, but the FaceTime camera is uninspiring due to low resolution
  • 1080p videos are solid, but come out quite noisy

As we said - on its own, the Apple iPad mini 3 is a great device, but it only has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a new paintjob option to show over last year's mini. As such, its market success isn't anything close to sealed as throughout the last few months some nice and powerful tablets have stolen the spotlight.

The HTC-made Google Nexus 9 is surely something to consider. It offers an inch bigger IPS display with the same resolution. It uses the top-notch Nvidia Tegra K1 beast, which easily puts the Apple A7 chip to shame when it comes to graphics processing. It is also a good looking chap, with a better camera and the latest pure Android 5.0 Lollipop. The pricing is fair too, and it seems the Apple iPad mini 3 will be meeting quite a threat in the face of the Nexus 9.

HTC Nexus 9

HTC Nexus 9

Of course, the €100 cheaper Apple iPad mini 2 is the one lots of people will choose over the iPad mini 3 because the price premium for the new Touch ID sensor is hardly worth it. Both devices have the same looks, the same display, the same internals, including the camera, and both run iOS 8.1. Honestly, we wouldn't be paying a hundred bucks for the touch scanner, either.

Apple iPad mini 2

Apple iPad mini 2

The Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9 is another Tegra K1-powered slate with a 7.9" IPS display that matches the iPad mini 3 screen. It is more powerful than the iPad mini 3 and has a better battery. The all plastic build and the Android OS with the Xiaomi's launcher will hardly allow you to forget that you are holding a cheaper tablet. Though, at €200 cheaper, it may as well be worth the trade-off.

Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9

Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9

Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 boasts a Super AMOLED display with higher resolution and an octa-core processor into an even thinner and lighter body than the Apple iPad mini 3. Its software package is up to date with Android and TouchWiz, and it's enriched with an excellent office suite, premium services, features and apps. The customization options are way better, too.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 LTE

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 LTE

This year the iPad mini 3 has been ignored by Apple in favor of the the iPad Air 2. It's only natural that they shouldn't feel disappointed if people ignore it in the stores, too. Android manufacturers wouldn't mind Apple giving up the fight in the segment, that's for sure.

The Touch ID sensor is hardly worth the hefty price premium over the iPad mini 2 and last year's mini is still a good buy on its own. As things stay today, there is hardly any incentive for parting with the extra cash so you should either get the iPad mini 2 or look elsewhere for your next mid-size tablet.

Unboxing the Apple iPad mini 3

The retail box of the Apple iPad mini 3 covers just the basics - a wall charger and a Lightning cable. We would have really appreciated a pair of EarPods, but Apple has never supplied headphones with its slates (neither do most other tablet manufacturers).

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 retail box

Design and build quality

The new Apple iPad mini 3 is absolutely identical to its predecessor down to the very last metal bone. Its unibody shell is made out of aluminum, finished with tapered edges while its display is covered by a protective glass with oleophobic coating.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3 next to and iPad mini 2

Just like the iPad mini 2, the new iPad mini 3 bets on the luxurious looks and it does look gorgeous. The slate is among the best looking devices on the market and this will probably stay this way at least for another year. It is designed and build with great attention to detail and no matter if you are an iFan or not, you have to acknowledge Apple's excellent choice of design and materials.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3

But the iPad mini 3 isn't only a great looking device. It feels amazing in hand, pleasant to touch and hold, with good enough grip. The unibody has more than solid build as you can expect. Overall, handling the slate is a pleasure. It feels best when operated with two hands, but thanks to its lightweight unibody it is possible to work with the iPad mini 3 single-handedly.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

Handling the iPad mini 3

Controls

Above the screen we find the same 1.2MP resolution front-facing camera as last year's. It's capable of 720p video capture. Next to it, there's an ambient light sensor, which helps in adjusting the screen brightness automatically.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

A peek above and below the display

Under the screen is the Home key, now upgraded with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It works just like on the iPhone and enhances the security of your Apple Device.

There are no controls on the left side of the Apple iPad mini 3, while on the right we find the two volume keys and the Mute switch (that one can also lock screen orientation if you choose so in the system settings).

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

The sides of the tablet

The Apple iPad mini 3, just like its predecessors, features a stereo speaker setup at the bottom, flanking the Lightning port. The speakers aren't loud, but their sound quality is good.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

The speakers and the Lightning port

The issue with the speaker setup remains the same as before - they are really easy to muffle with your hand when holding the iPad mini in landscape orientation. Also they are so close together that we couldn't spot a perceivable stereo effect in whatever game or video.

The top of the iPad mini has the 3.5mm audio jack, the power/lock key and the microphone, which is used in FaceTime/Skype calls and the likes.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

The top of the iPad mini 3

The second microphone is on the back of the slate, close to the primary one and it allows noise cancellation when using FaceTime or Siri. The 5 MP camera is around the back, too. It's the same camera as the one on the iPad mini 2, packing an F/2.4 aperture and autofocus. There is no LED flash, just like before.

Apple iPad Mini 3
Apple iPad Mini 3

On the back: the camera lens and the second mic