iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 4 comparison review
Which is better: the iPad mini 3 or the iPad mini 4? I've got the mini 3, and I'm wondering if it's worth updating to the new iPad mini 4.
The iPad mini is one of Apple's understated heroes, and Apple's new iPad mini 4 has improved specifications. But how does the iPad mini 4 compare to the iPad mini 3 model it replaces? (If you wished to buy a brand-new iPad mini right now, your options would be the mini 2 and the mini 4 - the mini 3 has been discontinued.)
Our comparison review looks at the iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 4. Is it worth getting the new iPad mini 4, or should you stick with the older iPad mini 3 (or buy one second-hand)? We'll look at the design and build quality of both models, plus pricing and technical specifications. Here is all you need to know about buying a new iPad mini.
iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 4: Design and build quality
The iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 4 share the same design build. Both models sport a 7.9-inch display, which itself didn't change from the iPad mini 2.
The build quality is superb, with the metal finish that marks the more recent iPad Air models and iPhone models. Like the iPhone, it's available in a range of colours, and like with the iPad Air you can pick up a smart cover that turns it on and off when you open and close the device. (See: Best iPad mini cases and covers.)
Both the iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 4 feature Apple's Touch ID sensor, so you can unlock the device by holding a finger against the Home button.
The iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 4 both have two cameras. A front-facing FaceTime camera for video conversations, and a rear-facing iSight camera for taking photographs.
So on the outside, both models are largely indistinguishable. But that changes when you look at the specifications. First, let's look at the pricing.
iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 4: Colours and pricing
Both the iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 4 are available in three colours:
- Space Gray
A notable absence is Apple's new Rose Gold colour; we guess Apple wants to keep its popular new pink hue as an exclusive offering for the more expensive iPhone models, for the time being at least.
The iPad mini 4 replaces the iPad mini 3 at the same price, and these models are available in the Apple Store
- Wi-Fi (16GB): £319
- Wi-Fi (64GB): £399
- Wi-Fi (128GB): £479
- Wi-Fi & Cellular (16GB): £419
- Wi-Fi & Cellular (64GB): £499
- Wi-Fi & Cellular (128GB): £479
The iPad mini 3 is no longer available new from the Apple Store: Apple now sells the older iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3. The iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3 had essentially the same technical specifications, although the iPad mini 3 added Touch ID.
Apple still sells iPad mini 3 models on the Apple Refurb Store, however, and you can currently pick up an iPad mini 3 Wi-Fi & Cellular 128GB for just £439 - a saving of £50 from the newer model.
While it's not an earth-shattering saving, you may consider plumping for the older model if money is tight. But first look at the specifications, which are substantially better on the mini 4.
iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 4: Tech specs
While the iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 4 share the same exterior design, they are different on the inside.
The iPad mini 4 improves on the iPad mini 3 in lots of small ways.
iPad mini 4 tech specs
- Dimensions: 203.2 x 134.8 x 6.1 mm
- Weight: 299 g (Wi-Fi) / 304 g (3G/LTE)
- Display: 7.9 inches
- Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels (~324 ppi)
- Chipset: Apple A8
- CPU: Dual-core 1.5 GHz Typhoon
- GPU: PowerVR GX6450 (quad-core graphics)
- RAM: 2 GB
- iSight Camera: 8 MP
- FaceTime Camera: 1.2 MP
iPad mini 3 tech specs
- Dimensions: 200 x 134.7 x 7.5 mm
- Weight: 331 g (Wi-Fi) / 341 g (3G/LTE)
- Display: 7.9 inches
- Resolution: 1536 x 2048 pixels (324 ppi)
- Chipset: Apple A7
- CPU: Dual-core 1.3 GHz Cyclone
- GPU: PowerVR G6430 (quad-core graphics)
- RAM: 1 GB
- iSight Camera: 5 MP
- FaceTime Camera: .2 MP
It's clear to us that the iPad mini 4 has vastly improved specifications over the older iPad mini 3. Because the iPad mini 3 didn't get a speed bump over the mini 2, its architecture is aging somewhat. Even the new iPad mini 4 doesn't get Apple's A9 chipset, but the A8, combined with 2GB of RAM, offers enough performance to last a long time.
There's an improved camera too, so you'll get higher-quality snaps from your iPad (although again, not as good as you'll get from a new iPhone).
Macworld poll: How often do you update your iPad?
Before we give our final verdict on this buying decision, we'd love to hear how often you buy a new iPad. Are you considering buying your first iPad, or are you a regular updater?
On the whole, we think the faster components of the iPad mini 4 are well worth the additional spend. It'll get software upgrades from Apple for a longer time thanks to the slightly faster chipset and additional RAM. Spend the additional cash and get the new model.