iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Mini 3: Choosing the Tablet That's Best for You

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-11-21
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Mini 3: Choosing the Tablet That's Best for You
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    iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Mini 3: Choosing the Tablet That's Best for You

    By Don Reisinger
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    How Much Screen Real Estate Do You Need?
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    How Much Screen Real Estate Do You Need?

    The decision between the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 may ultimately come down to how big of a screen a customer wants. Those seeking more mobility and a smaller screen should go with the 7.9-inch iPad Mini 3. The iPad Air 2's 9.7-inch screen would be best for those seeking more display real estate to watch videos and get work done.
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    Will Processing Power Make a Significant Difference in Performance?
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    Will Processing Power Make a Significant Difference in Performance?

    Don't forget about the power question when comparing the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. The iPad Mini 3 ships with the same A7 chip that was running in the previous version of the device. The iPad Air 2 boosts its chip to the A8X, which is Apple's most sophisticated processor and one that should deliver the kind of power companies and gamers want.
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    Pricing Is a Major Consideration
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    Pricing Is a Major Consideration

    Pricing is an obvious concern for folks, so that should be taken into consideration when trying to choose between the two tablets. The iPad Air 2 starts at $499 for a 16GB, WiFi-only model. The iPad Mini 3 comes in at $399 for the same storage in WiFi. One other note: The iPad Air 2 tops out at $829 for the top-of-the-line model. The top-end iPad Mini 3 is $729.
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    Mobility Is Strong, but Not Equal
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    Mobility Is Strong, but Not Equal

    There's no doubt that when it comes to mobility, Apple has done a fine job of ensuring both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 can be carted around. However, the iPad Air 2 is more than an inch taller and wider than the iPad Mini 3. It also weighs about 100 grams more than the iPad Mini 3. While that's not necessarily a big difference, it's enough for some customers to pick one over the other. Apple is offering the iPad Mini for customers who want a small-tablet experience. And that small, lightweight feel is what the company provides in the iPad Mini 3.
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    Let Previous Experience With iPads Be Your Guide
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    Let Previous Experience With iPads Be Your Guide

    Here's an obvious question one should ask before choosing either device: Do you already own an iPad Mini or iPad Air? If the answer is yes and you've definitely decided to go with a new Apple tablet, choose the model you don't already own. Neither the iPad Air 2 nor the iPad Mini 3 is a major update over their predecessors. You can't go wrong by trying the other model.
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    There Are Clear Differences in Camera Quality
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    There Are Clear Differences in Camera Quality

    While the front-facing cameras built into the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 are the same 1.2-megapixel FaceTime units, the rear-facing cameras are quite different. The iPad Mini 3 has a 5-megapixel lens, while the iPad Air 2's camera has 8 megapixels. The iPad Air 2 also has a Burst mode feature that adds some extra value to the average photographer.
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    Think About the Display Resolution Differences
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    Think About the Display Resolution Differences

    Although the obvious difference between the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 is their size, there are more comparisons to draw. For one thing, the iPad Mini 3 has more pixels per inch—326—than the 264 found in the iPad Air 2. On the other side, Apple has added fully laminated display support and anti-reflective coating to the iPad Air 2's screen. So, to sum up, the iPad Mini 3 has better pixel density, but the iPad Air 2 will likely perform better in the middle of a sunny, summer day.
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    Wireless Connectivity Is Slightly Different
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    Wireless Connectivity Is Slightly Different

    The wireless connectivity built into the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 are slightly different. While they both have the same cellular features, the WiFi built into the iPad Air 2 includes 802.11ac. The iPad Mini 3 tops out at 802.11n. Other than that, don't expect any differences in wireless connectivity between the iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2.
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    Don't Expect Differences on the Color Side
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    Don't Expect Differences on the Color Side

    Looking for a special color? Don't look at the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 for any differences. Both devices come in three color options: Space Gray, Silver and Gold. Worth noting: The iPad Mini 2 didn't come with a gold version, but the iPad Mini 3 does. Nice.
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    Consider Competitive Comparisons Before Making a Choice
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    Consider Competitive Comparisons Before Making a Choice

    Before deciding which product is best, it's important to look at the competitive marketplace. Although there are several products available in the higher end, like Microsoft's Surface Pro, one could argue that the iPad Air 2 is far and away the best option in terms of features and design. The iPad Mini 3, however, is in line with many tablets of similar size, and some could argue other devices have trumped it in terms of available features. So, look at the competitive landscape before deciding on either Apple product. One might discover another option that will make a suitable choice.
 

Apple's iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 are two of the more popular tablets available in the marketplace. Both products were announced in October and went on sale a week later. So far, they've attracted solid reviews and are viewed as two of the best tablets on the market today. Many people who are thinking about buying an Apple tablet this holiday season are choosing between those two products. But which Apple tablet is the best choice. On one hand, there's the iPad Air 2, complete with a 9.7-inch screen and the powerful A8X processor. On the other there is the iPad Mini 3, which comes with a 7.9-inch screen and the A7 processor. Both have the typically slick Apple design. The factors that distinguish the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 aside from the size difference are fairly minor, but they are enough to make a difference when choosing one product over another depending on the buyer's needs. This eWEEK slide show looks at both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 to try to discern factors that will help folks choose the slate that is just right for them.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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