Apple iPad mini 3 Review

Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Introduction


By now, consumers should know the drill when it comes to all things Apple related. Every year, its product lineup gets refreshed – where devices generally receive upgrades to differentiate them enough over their predecessors. With the iPad mini family, the original model surely turned heads with its compact size, which was something refreshing and different from the regular iPad model, but its successor in the iPad mini 2 brought it one step further by adding a Retina Display on top of other hardware and software upgrades. Paying attention to this year’s model, however, the only thing really notable that’s added to the arsenal of the Apple iPad mini 3 is a Touch ID finger print sensor. Will that be enough to make it the dominant compact tablet for the next year?

The package contains:

  • Wall charger
  • Lightning USB cable
  • Start guide
  • Apple decals

Design

It exudes the exactly same premium design, with the only notable improvement being the addition of a Touch ID finger print sensor.

We can all agree that the iPad mini’s design was a hit when it first came onto the scene a couple years ago, and to the amazement of many, it’ proven to be so popular that the recent crop of iPhones have adopted its design language as well. Therefore, it’s not shocking to know that the iPad mini 3 looks very much like its predecessors – meaning, there’s no change between it, the original model, and last year’s iPad mini 2. That’s not a bad thing per se, especially when it exudes a premium finish thanks to its unibody aluminum casing, glass front surface, and rounded corners.

Looking around, it’s no surprise that everything is in place with the iPad mini 3. From its button placements, Lightning docking port, speaker grills, cameras, and home button, there’s no change whatsoever here with the iPad mini 3. Well, the home button has technically changed, seeing that it now incorporates Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor – a useful and handy tool that provides us an alternative way of unlocking the tablet.

 

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Display

Strangely, the brightness potency of the display has dropped, but all of its other qualities remain the same.

A sigh of relief came with last year’s iPad mini 2, mainly because it was accompanied with a Retina Display – one that surely proved to be more detailed and attractive than the original’s display. Well folks, that same display is present here in the iPad mini 3, a 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 Retina Display. Of course, its pixel density count of 326 ppi matches its predecessor, continuing to make it extremely sharp and detailed, but for some odd reason, its brightness potency has dipped to 312 nits – down from the 450 nits produced by the iPad mini 3. It may be difficult to read it outdoors due to glare and direct sunlight.

Despite that, we’re happy to report that its color accuracy is unchanged. Although it’s not as accurate as the iPad Air 2, it still produces some punchy tones that catch our attention. Also worth mentioning is its almost perfect color temperature of 6656 K, which closely reaches that ideal reference mark of 6500 K. Overall, the Retina Display continues to be a delightful treat, but we’re just irked by its lower brightness output.

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 mini 2 450
(Good)
8
(Good)
1:936
(Average)
6928
(Excellent)
2.22
8.11
(Poor)
2.32
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 419
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6747
(Excellent)
2.06
2.58
(Good)
2.74
(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
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 54.4%
50%
unmeasurable
4.3%
0.5%
99.2%
39.4%
Apple iPad mini 3 73.7%
83.3%
68.3%
10.3%
2.7%
0.9%
139.4%
Apple iPad mini 2 94.4%
87.5%
60.4%
8.5%
3.6%
4.7%
50.9%
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 mini 3 Review

Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Introduction


By now, consumers should know the drill when it comes to all things Apple related. Every year, its product lineup gets refreshed – where devices generally receive upgrades to differentiate them enough over their predecessors. With the iPad mini family, the original model surely turned heads with its compact size, which was something refreshing and different from the regular iPad model, but its successor in the iPad mini 2 brought it one step further by adding a Retina Display on top of other hardware and software upgrades. Paying attention to this year’s model, however, the only thing really notable that’s added to the arsenal of the Apple iPad mini 3 is a Touch ID finger print sensor. Will that be enough to make it the dominant compact tablet for the next year?

The package contains:

  • Wall charger
  • Lightning USB cable
  • Start guide
  • Apple decals

Design

It exudes the exactly same premium design, with the only notable improvement being the addition of a Touch ID finger print sensor.

We can all agree that the iPad mini’s design was a hit when it first came onto the scene a couple years ago, and to the amazement of many, it’ proven to be so popular that the recent crop of iPhones have adopted its design language as well. Therefore, it’s not shocking to know that the iPad mini 3 looks very much like its predecessors – meaning, there’s no change between it, the original model, and last year’s iPad mini 2. That’s not a bad thing per se, especially when it exudes a premium finish thanks to its unibody aluminum casing, glass front surface, and rounded corners.

Looking around, it’s no surprise that everything is in place with the iPad mini 3. From its button placements, Lightning docking port, speaker grills, cameras, and home button, there’s no change whatsoever here with the iPad mini 3. Well, the home button has technically changed, seeing that it now incorporates Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor – a useful and handy tool that provides us an alternative way of unlocking the tablet.


Display

Strangely, the brightness potency of the display has dropped, but all of its other qualities remain the same.

A sigh of relief came with last year’s iPad mini 2, mainly because it was accompanied with a Retina Display – one that surely proved to be more detailed and attractive than the original’s display. Well folks, that same display is present here in the iPad mini 3, a 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 Retina Display. Of course, its pixel density count of 326 ppi matches its predecessor, continuing to make it extremely sharp and detailed, but for some odd reason, its brightness potency has dipped to 312 nits – down from the 450 nits produced by the iPad mini 3. It may be difficult to read it outdoors due to glare and direct sunlight.

Despite that, we’re happy to report that its color accuracy is unchanged. Although it’s not as accurate as the iPad Air 2, it still produces some punchy tones that catch our attention. Also worth mentioning is its almost perfect color temperature of 6656 K, which closely reaches that ideal reference mark of 6500 K. Overall, the Retina Display continues to be a delightful treat, but we’re just irked by its lower brightness output.

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 mini 2 450
(Good)
8
(Good)
1:936
(Average)
6928
(Excellent)
2.22
8.11
(Poor)
2.32
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 419
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6747
(Excellent)
2.06
2.58
(Good)
2.74
(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
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 54.4%
50%
unmeasurable
4.3%
0.5%
99.2%
39.4%
Apple iPad mini 3 73.7%
83.3%
68.3%
10.3%
2.7%
0.9%
139.4%
Apple iPad mini 2 94.4%
87.5%
60.4%
8.5%
3.6%
4.7%
50.9%
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

The new features of iOS 8 give the platform more depth, but the iPad mini 3 isn’t particularly big on productivity versus laptops.

Apple shook things up when it brought iOS 7 to its mobile devices, which gave the iPad mini 2 a totally refreshing new experience that greatly differentiated it from its predecessor. This year, however, the iPad mini 3 greets us with iOS 8, which retains the same visual arrangement of iOS 7, but it benefits from having slightly wider enhancements to its software features.

In particular, they include things like support for widgets in the Notification Center, having a convenient way to interact with notifications, support for third party keyboards, improved Spotlight search function, and much more. They’ve even included several other goodies, such as sharing content via Family Sharing and answering _phone_ calls from your iPhone thanks to continuity. All of the features help to give the platform a rounded appeal, which helps when several native and third party apps are organized to make use of display – both portrait and landscape.

Honestly, it has all the same set of software features as the iPad Air 2, but we’re just basically left to deal with the smaller sized display. The experience is ideal for multimedia consumption, but it’s not really meant for productivity work – mainly due to its smaller sized screen.

Processor and Memory

Shockingly, there’s no upgrade to the processor in this one, but it still performs responsively.

Unfortunately, the iPad mini 3 doesn’t see any improvement with its processor, seeing that it employs the same dual-core Apple A7 processor based on 64-bit architecture with 1GB of RAM as its predecessor. Indeed, it’s an effective piece of silicon that’s equipped to handle a wide range of basic and complex operations, but knowing that Apple has followed a strict path of upgrading the processor with its devices, this revelation here with the iPad mini 3 is rather disturbing.

Just like the recent announcement of new iPhones, the iPad mini 3 is available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities. Obviously, the 32GB model has been phased out in favor for the 64GB one.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 3 35513
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 32388
Sunspider
Lower is better
Apple iPad mini 3 443.4
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 1059.1
Apple iPad mini 2 430.3
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 3 22.7
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 14
Apple iPad mini 2 21
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 3 8.9
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 2.9
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 3 999
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 856
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 3 1373
Apple iPad mini 2 1355
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 3 2478
Apple iPad mini 2 2486
View all

Internet and Connectivity


Always the one to please, the iPad mini 3 is an effective device for surfing the web with its Safari browser. Not only do pages load and render quickly, but the experience is strengthened with the tablet’s tight navigational controls. And best of all, the iPad mini 3’s size lends itself in being the perfect companion if you want to read something while sipping on a cup of Joe.

If wider connectivity is something you crave, the iPad mini 3 is offered with 4G LTE connectivity (support for 14 LTE bands) as well to keep you connected just in case there’s no Wi-Fi hotspot around. Of course, it’s also outfitted with the usual arsenal of connectivity features – like aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with MIMO.

Camera

The camera hardware, too, doesn’t change with the iPad mini 3. Despite that, it’s still able to snap some excellent looking shots.

Hardly a shocker, especially at this point, the iPad mini 3 sports the same 5-megapixel iSight camera as its predecessor. Meaning, it features the same five-element lens, f/2.4 aperture, BSI, and 1080p video recording. Again, it simply goes to show how closely related it is to the iPad mini 2. With the arrival of iOS 8, though, the camera app receives upgrades that provide us with manual exposure adjustment and a timer function. Aside from that, the camera app remains identical to what we’ve seen before.

Can we blame Apple for not upgrading the camera hardware in this, especially knowing that it snaps some good looking photos? When it comes down to it, the iPad mini 3’s camera continues to impress, which is surprising considering that we’re talking about a tablet here. Honestly, the results are quite similar to last year’s model, as well as the original – meaning it produces sharp details, natural colors, and proper exposure. Taking it indoors where lighting is sparse, the details are softer and colors appear a bit more washed out.


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 mini 3 3.1
3.3
No data
No data
Apple iPad mini 2 3.2
3.5
674
No data
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 3.2
3.8
393
196
View all

Likewise, its 1080p video recording is pretty good too! Although, we’re just baffled as to why continuous auto-focus continues to be non-existent – leaving us to rely on touch focus instead. Additionally, it doesn’t get greeted to the same slow motion capture like its siblings.



Multimedia

The iPad mini 3 serves its purposes in being an intimate, multimedia-consumptive device.

The music player of the iPad mini 3 is your standard fanfare, the same recycled one from before. For what it’s worth, the interface is organized looking and doesn’t try to throw a ton of features or visual treats at us – so it comes off a bit generic in comparison to the dazzling allure of some other music players.
The iPad mini 3 generates a powerful 76.6 dB of audio output, which is accompanied with a very neutral sound quality – though, it’s a little bit light on the bass. Nonetheless, for what it’s worth, it’s effective to resonate in small spaces.

Sure, it’s not as ideal as the iPad Air 2 for the occasion, but the iPad mini 3 is a reasonable enough thing for watching videos. Not only do they play smoothly, but the compact size of the tablet allows us to comfortably watch something in peace while lying in bed, or at a coffee shop, without being too distracting.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 2 0.97
Apple iPad mini 3 0.87
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 0.6
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 2 74
Apple iPad mini 3 76.6
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 74.3
View all


Apple iPad mini 3 Review
Battery

For whatever reason, the battery life is less than that of its predecessor.

Considering that the internal components are mostly identical, it behooves us to find that the iPad mini 3’s battery life to be less than that of the iPad mini 2 in our battery benchmark test. Specifically, it achieves a mark of 6 hours and 53 minutes, which is a considerable loss in comparison to the iPad mini 2’s tally of 8 hours and 28 minutes. Despite that, it’s still able to churn out a solid day of normal, real-world usage – so that’s at least comforting to know!

Battery life

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage.

name
Time
Higher is better
Apple iPad mini 2
8h 28 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
7h 4 min (Excellent)
Apple iPad mini 3
6h 53 min (Good)
View all

Conclusion


As we try to think dearly about Apple’s intent with the iPad mini 3, we’re still having trouble rationalizing the reasoning behind its $400 cost. In all fairness, it’s a pricey investment considering that the only notable new addition is the Touch ID fingerprint sensor – while the rest of the tablet largely remains the same. In fact, it sport’s the same Retina Display, iSight camera, and processor of its predecessor, which of course, is still quite a formidable thing, especially for something that’s now attached with a $300 cost.

Sure, there’s now a gold colored option to select from, but the iPad 3 lacks any meaningful changes to warrant the upgrade – more so if you’re holding onto the iPad mini 2. Beyond that, we can’t forget to think about Apple’s other tablet, the iPad Air 2, which seems more valuable with its starting price of $500.

Software version of the review unit: 8.0