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Why is the iPad mini 3 so boring?

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On Thursday, Apple announced two new tablets: the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3.  The iPad Air 2 features a slimmer design, the A8X processor, M8 co-processor, Touch ID, advanced Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity and 8MP iSight camera.  The iPad mini 3, however, only gained a gold color option, Touch ID and 128GB storage capability. Why did Apple update the iPad Air 2 so amazingly, but kept the mini relatively the same? There’s probably a couple of reasons why. The first one has to do with the iPhone 6 Plus.

In September, Apple expanded their phones by increasing their display sizes. The iPhone 6, the successor to the iPhone 5s, has a 4.7″ display and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5″ display. If you put this side-by-side to the iPad, the mini has a 7.9″ display and the iPad Air has a 9.7″ display.

The iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad mini 2 and iPad Air, credit: iMore

The iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad mini 2 and iPad Air, credit: iMore

 

Apple may believe the iPad mini 3 no longer fits. The iPhone 6 is a phone, the iPhone 6 Plus is a phablet (phone + tablet) and the iPad Air is a tablet. So what is the iPad mini? Is it a miniature tablet or was it just a placeholder for the iPhone 6 Plus? Apple may be looking to discontinue the iPad mini in a few years so they are hoping to push their customers to purchase the iPhone 6 Plus or the iPad Air 2 since they both have major upgrades and the mini is still living in 2013.  The iPad mini 3 only gained Touch ID, a gold color option and 128GB storage capability two of which came with the iPhone 5s in 2013. The new storage capability was added to the iPad 4 in early 2013.  The only benefit of Apple announcing the iPad mini 3 is the decrease in price for last year’s model.  Also if Apple wants to make the iPhone’s display any larger, it may start to seriously hurt sales of the iPad mini.

Another reason that Apple may have not updated the iPad mini 3 is because the mini is too similar to the iPad Air.  If you look at the image above, the iPad mini 2 and iPad Air look the same. The mini is just a smaller version of the Air.  In terms of technical specifications, the tablets were identical. The only major difference was that the iPad mini cost $100 less.  Although Apple doesn’t go into sales figures by tablet, they were likely selling more of the smaller one due to the cheaper price tag.  To increase customer’s interest on the larger tablet, Apple needed to update everything about the Air and keep the mini the same.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 6.22.54 PM

If you are looking to purchase an iPad mini, you have a few options. If you want the latest updated model, I would suggest you go with the iPad mini 2. It’s a hundred dollars less and is nearly identical to this year’s model. If you must have Touch ID, either go for the iPhone 6 Plus or iPad Air 2.  The only major difference between the iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 is Touch ID…and $100. So if Touch ID is worth $100 to you, then go with the iPad mini 3.