iPad Air 2 next to iPad mini 3

Deciding between the original iPad mini and the iPad 4 was tedious due to a feature gap stemming from the notable hardware differences between the two. On the other hand, the choice between the iPad mini with Retina display (or the iPad mini 2, as it’s now called) was a no-brainer. Both came outfitted with essentially the same hardware— from the sensors to the A7/M7 chips to the cameras — so the decision came down to picking your preferred screen size.

That said, brain work is required to make an informed purchasing decision concerning the latest iPads. In case you missed it, Apple’s brought minor changes to the iPad mini 3 and the device got only like thirty seconds of stage time. Conversely, the iPad Air 2 is a much more substantial upgrade.

Here are ten iPad Air 2 features that the iPad mini 3 lacks which make the bigger model a better buy and arguably the right device to boost your tablet computing.

1. Fully laminated Retina display

The iPad Air 2, the first Apple tablet with the fully laminated display. We’re talking about the same process technology Apple uses in iPhone manufacturing, which makes the images appear as if they were painted directly on the glass. By combining the three separate screen layers — the cover glass, touch sensor and LCD — into one, optical bonding doesn’t just eliminate the gaps between the layers, but gets rid of the internal reflectance caused by those gaps. In turn, you’ll enjoy richer colors, better contrast and sharper, more vivid images overall on the iPad Air 2.

2. Antireflective screen coating

With a custom-designed antireflective coating, the iPad Air 2 reduces glare by a whopping 56 percent, making it “the least reflective tablet in the world”. The new mini doesn’t have it, meaning its 7.9-inch Retina screen just isn’t as clear and readable in different kinds of environments as the iPad Air 2’s 9.7-inch panel is.

3. Thinner profile

At just 6.1 millimeters, the iPad Air 2 is the thinnest iPad yet. By comparison, the iPad mini 3 is the iPad Air-7.5 millimeters thick. You may not care about thinness at all, but many people do and the 1.4 millimeter difference is definitely visible to the naked eye.

4. A8X processor

With a billion more transistors and faster architecture, the iPad Air 2’s new A8X processor delivers a 40 percent gain in compute performance and more than double the graphics performance (2.5 times faster, to be precise) versus the A7 chip ticking inside the iPad mini 3 (and the previous iPad Air). Your apps and games will run a lot smoother on the iPad Air 2 and iOS 8 will be more responsive and fluid on it compared to the iPad mini 3. And thanks to the A8X, the iPad Air 2’s cameras have enhanced face detection and better noise reduction.

5. M8 motion coprocessor

The iPad mini 3 still contains the last year’s M7 motion coprocessor whereas its bigger sibling packs in the latest M8 chip that debuted last month on the new iPhones. Whereas the M7 continuously measures data from the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope sensors without taxing the main processor, the M8 adds support for a new barometer sensor. And because it continuously calibrates all five sensors — barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS and compass — the M8 helps improve power efficiency.

6. Better iSight and FaceTime HD cameras

The iPad Air 2’s rear camera is an improved eight-megapixel sensor taking advantage of the powerful image signal processor in the A8X chip. The iPad mini 3’s has remained stuck at five megapixels. Because it’s the same shooter as the previous model, the iPad mini 3 is incapable of delivering photographs as sharp and vivid as the iPad Air 2.

Moreover, its front-facing camera is virtually unchanged, as opposed to the iPad Air 2’s FaceTime HD shooter with an improved sensor for crisper video calls, even in low light. In short, you’ll take better selfies on the iPad Air 2.

7. Burst mode

The iPad mini 3 does’t support Burst camera mode because that feature requires the A8X processor, which the mini doesn’t have. Compared this to the iPad Air 2, which lets you fire off ten photos per second, with the software automatically detecting smiles and blinks to pick the best shot.

8. Slow-mo video capture

The iPad Air 2 can shoot dramatic slow-motion videos at 120 frames per second, a feature not found on the new mini. In fact, the iPad Air 2 is the first iPad with Burst mode support.

9. Three times faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Compared to the iPad mini 3, the iPad Air 2 packs more than twice as fast Wi-Fi as before with theoretical speeds up to 866Mbps. This translates into waiting less as web pages load, smoother YouTube streaming and simply more enjoyable Wi-Fi performance. Before you jump with joy, a compatible 802.11ac router is needed to take full advantage of the iPad Air 2’s faster Wi-Fi. Apple’s latest AirPort Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme base station feature 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

10. Barometer sensor

An all-new barometer, exclusive to the iPad Air 2 and new iPhones, senses air pressure to provide relative elevation that can be fed to iOS 8’s Motion app. You just can’t do that on the iPad mini 3 without using a specialized accessory compatible with Apple’s HealthKit.

iPad mini 3 (hand 001)

It would be premature to say that Apple has deliberately underpowered the iPad mini 3 in order to push undecided shoppers toward a pricier iPad Air 2. If you ask me, engineering teams have been spread thin and may not have had enough time to pack all of the new features into a smaller device yet.

Apple will continue to sell both previous versions of the iPad mini and the original iPad Air at reduced prices starting at $249 and $399, respectively.

Speaking or prices, 16/64/128GB iPad Air 2 models are $499/$599/$699 while the iPad mini 3 will run you $399/$499/$599 for the same 16/64/128GB storage tiers.

Add an extra $130 for 4G LTE cellular connectivity.

iPad Air 2 (profile 001, Space Gray, Silver, Gold)

Are you disappointed that the latest iPad mini doesn’t keep up with the iPad Air 2 hardware-wise? Do the aforementioned goodies justify the iPad Air 2’s higher price tag, do you think?

And finally, are the aforementioned hardware features worth an extra $100?

For more in tech specs wars, check out Jeff’s quick and dirty iPad Air 2 vs iPad Air comparison.

  • Jeffrey Feuerstein

    Ten ways I will not be buying an iPad:

    1. I don’t have the money
    2. It’s expensive
    3. I don’t need an iPad
    4. It’s expensive
    5. It’s expensive
    6. It’s expensive
    7. It’s expensive
    8. It’s expensive
    9. It’s expensive
    10. It’s expensive

    • Christian Mejía

      You forgot to say “it’s expensive”

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        Oh damn you’re right, I’ll just add it as a bonus…

    • Matt

      Yeah it seems expensive until you realize that you almost just bought and iPhone 6 for the same price

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        You can leave away the ‘almost’… Still, an iPhone 6 is much more needed than an iPad.

      • andy

        So true.

      • Christian Mejía

        I just realized I didn’t buy an iPhone 6.

      • Tommy

        Shit, I did.

    • It might be expensive but it’s worth it. iPads are built to last. I’m still using an iPad 3 and Apples graphs and charts have convinced me to buy an iPad Air 2 after seeing how much faster it is compared to my iPad 3! Plus I’ll have continuity and handoff. An iPad might be expensive but it’s not something you buy every year, or even every two or three years. I know that when I buy the iPad Air 2 it’ll last and be just as much a fighter, struggling along just as my iPad 3 is now at some point in the future…

      • therealjjohnson

        I just laughed when I read this.

        “Apples graphs and charts have convinced me to buy an iPad Air 2”

        Not sure why…but it made me laugh lol.

      • Lol. I wasn’t planning on buying an iPad and nothing about the iPad Air particularly wows me but the power of the thing is amazing (in comparison to my iPad 3)

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        It might have 2.5X or 3X as much power (I can’t exactly bring up the numbers) but that’s just in theory. If you have seen the original iPad Air running on iOS 8 you will see that the iPad Air 2 will only be very very unnoticeably faster that the original iPad Air. It’s like the speed difference between the iPhone 5s on iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 on iOS 8. And believe me, it’s really not a big difference, I have an iPhone 5s and 6…

      • I’m well aware of that I’m talking in terms of my iPad 3 though, the iPad Air 2 puts my iPad 3 to shame. It owns it and pwns it and walks all over it

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        Hahah yeah I can definitely agree with that. The iPad 3 isn’t modern anymore (in terms of the current technology).

      • Tommy

        Looks like Apple’s powerpoints have been REAL effective lol

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        There’s no denial in that, I have an iPad 3 and an iPad Mini too but to be honest, I don’t need an iPad. I use my iPhone every day in school etc. and when I get home I use my MacBook, and I can also use it while laying down in my bed just like an iPad so I don’t really need one. But that’s a personal opinion, I can definitely see how one can find it very productive and I do really love the iPads so don’t get me wrong;)

      • For me an iPad should be a mixture of content consumption and productivity. It is for this reason I’ve bought the 128GB model (I’ve never done this for any other iOS device). I plan on filling it with music, videos, books, magazines, apps, word processing documents, etc…

        My iPad will effectively be my computer away from my computer with a screen big enough to enjoy using for prolonged amounts of time (I can’t even think of using my 5s to do half the things I use my iPad for).

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        Alright I get that, but don’t you use your computer for those stuff? I use my iPhone to play music, my MacBook to do everything else and I have both available almost everywhere I am.

      • Of course I do but an iPad is portable enough to use anywhere…

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        Ah, well that’s true and a good reason to buy one for a lot of people I think.

      • Jamie Wilson

        I have used an iPad 2 for two years now as a laptop replacement – because I have tiny little hands and added a bluetooth keyboard, it has been perfect. After test-driving the iPad Air, I was already planning to upgrade later this year or early next, and I’m thrilled they have a newer, better, lighter model at the same price.

    • sdfsdf

      Its really not that expensive at all

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        No 500 euro’s is nothing. I’ll just search under my couch and on my closet and maybe I’ll find 500 euro’s there just laying around…

      • Kr00

        Still cheaper than the previous model. You want it for free? Each iPad costs $280 including built in costs. Built into that cost is free software development and cloud services. How much should it cost?

      • Jeffrey

        The price is not for me to say. To me an iPad would be worth 250 euro’s, but that’s only because I don’t NEED one. I can see why people would need one and I can agree that 500 euro’s is a reasonable price for them, but for me it just isn’t worth it.

    • andy

      hahah so true!!!!

    • R4

      ITS £399, One of the cheapest apple products you can buy…

    • Kr00

      Surface is more expensive and android tablets are just shit, and you get free software that would cost you a bucket load from MS or android. Take your pick.

      • Jeffrey

        To be honest, as a big Apple fanboy, I would actually rather have a Surface than an iPad. It’s all about the OS. If Apple would sell an iPad with OS X on it I would obviously rather buy that one, but maybe we’ll see that next year when the iPad Pro sees the light.

      • Kr00

        Thats why they made a MacBook Air. Full OS’s don’t work on tablets, yet. If you need to do high end work, I wouldn’t be buying a surface either. There isn’t the pool of apps to work with, unless you want to pay a monthly subscription for Office. I can do almost everything I need work wise on my iPad. Each to their own.

      • Jeffrey

        That’s not why they made the MacBook Air… And full OS’s work great on tablets too, as long as they are touch screen optimized. Also it’s very obvious that you shouldn’t buy a Surface if you need to do high end work on it but you can’t do any high end work on the iPad either. And about Office, there’s always pirating, which I always do to get Office.

      • Kr00

        Theres only one desktop OS (kind of) that is on a tablet, Windows, and at best its a mediocre experience. What software is so important to you that you need a full OS on a tablet to run it?

      • Jeffrey

        I know, windows is the only desktop OS to run on a tablet right now, but that will change. I think Windows 8/8.1/10 runs fine on a tablet and I rather have windows than Android or iOS on my tablet. It just has more options. I would love Apple to either make OS X compatible with touchscreens or to make a new version of OS X that is optimized for touchscreens and at the same time still have the same features of normal OS X. I know Apple experimented with OS X on the iPad in the past so I’m sure it’s an option. Who knows, maybe we’ll see my dream come true next year with the iPad Pro? Think about it, a 12 inch tablet running iOS? Who wants that? But a 12 inch tablet running OS X, yeah, that’s something to get excited for!

      • 1 year later… there you have, a 12 inch tablet running iOS 🙂

      • Jeffrey

        Hahah lol how did you even find this comment.

        But on topic, yay, I kinda predicted the release date of the iPad Pro:P

        And yeah, I wouldn’t buy the iPad Pro, nor would I reccomend it to most people, but it could be useful for designers, artistic people and rich people who want a nice and portable device to watch movies on. But yeah, I would only buy it if I were rich.
        Which I’m not :*(

  • sdhn

    Someone please tell me why one would spend $100 extra for TouchID and a gold finish? (iPad mini 3 vs mini 2)

    • Jeffrey Feuerstein

      You shouldn’t put it like that, put it like this: you get a free Touch ID and a gold finish because yesterday the iPad Mini 2 was still $399…

      • Tommy

        hahaha so true. and yet…. Lol

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein


      • Guest

        But today is not yesterday and today’s prices reflect what @sdhn97:disqus said.

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        You can see it like that too, but I like to see it as a free upgrade and a free discount for the version that you could’ve bought 2 days ago for $100 more.

    • therealjjohnson

      Because you may want TouchID and a gold finish…lol. This is really a silly question they way it was posed.

  • Merman123

    iPad mini 3 = iPad mini 2 + Touch ID.

    • Jeffrey Feuerstein

      Yup, exactly.

      • Same as iPhone 5s and c they removed the ring to further differentiate the versions.

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        Yeah hahah weird:P

      • I hope they only make the lens flat on the 6 and not remove it entirely.

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        What do you mean? Removing the lens…?

      • removing the ring my bad lol

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        Hahah yeah I like the ring too but I don’t think they will remove the ring as long as it is protruding.

      • I was always a fan of the rings.. Hated that they removed it on the 5s and c.

      • Jeffrey Feuerstein

        Yup, it’s not that big of a deal to me but still, I like it better with than without.

    • Kurt

      I’d love to see speed tests done comparing the two. Will they be the same or will iPad mini 2 be slower for no reason.

  • Alejandro Merlo

    Can you please have the iPad Air 2 wallpapers for Sunday, the one you got on this article “10. Barometer Sensor”

  • GuyWithTheThings

    I was really looking forward to the iPad mini. Now it’s just basically $100 more for Touch ID… I guess I’ll be going with the Air 2.

  • Isaac

    Does anyone know if the iPad Air 2 will be avaliable to order at Midnight.

  • Kyle Tulloch

    7. Burst mode

    The iPad mini 3 does’t support Burst camera mode because that feature requires the A8X processor, which the mini doesn’t have. Compared this to the iPad Air 2, which lets you fire off ten photos per second, with the software automatically detecting smiles and blinks to pick the best shot.

    8. Slow-mo video capture

    The iPad Air 2 can shoot dramatic slow-motion videos at 120 frames per second, a feature not found on the new mini. In fact, the iPad Air 2 is the first iPad with Burst mode support.

    An A8X processor is not required for burst mode or slow-mo because they can be done on an iPad mini 1/2, iPhone 4s/5/5s. The devices that are pre iPhone 5S would require a jailbreak tweak. But the iPhone 5s can achieve it right out of the box. So that is total BS by Apple. They are saving those features for next year for the iPad mini 3S. Most likely the jailbreak crew will come to the rescue and enable all those features that are disabled.

  • blastingbigairs

    Still using my iPad 3 with no intention of upgrading until it farts and dies.

  • Vagelis Rekoumis

    iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2
    Touch ID

  • test_11

    I have my original iPad mini 1gen . so I need upgrade the iPad mini 3 or iPad Air 2?? Which is better one?

  • Raph Ael

    Still use my iPad 2… Waiting one more year to upgrade.. Same for the iphone have the 5 and waiting for the 6s…

  • nice classification.
    but both are expensive 😀

  • John Brown

    I thought iPad was too expensive too. But then I got one and it’s like one of the best inventions ever. I sat around for a week after I bought it feeling bad for wasting the money. But months later, I get so much more done, I can’t beleive it, but it was totally worth it. There are so many things from recording to writing notes, to taking video and pictures, to checking the stock market and making trade, you use to have to go to the computer open it up and do that, or get your camera when you were out with the dogs reading the paper, now it’s all in one device that you can lay down with in bed or the choice or wherever. And t makes you so much more likely to do those things consistently, at least that’s been the case with me. I don’t lose notes, schedules ect. And keeping my notes, schedules, finances and so much more has made me a more successful person when it comes to getting things done. And any of us would pay several hundreds of dollars of IPad price for that, to be a more successful person, steve jobs was right, that’s worth the price of admission. I cant beleive that I pad exceeded my expectation, but it did, by leaps and bounds. Get one on sale if you have to, my first was a “go back,” but it’s an investment in you and what you’ll be able to get done once you get more done, and that’s worth it. In fact I’m typing this now on an iPad, and if I had to go to my PC, start it up, get on the Internet, well it wouldn’t have gotten done.