Which Apple iPad mini should you buy? iPad mini 3 vs iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini 1

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Another year, another new Apple iPad mini tablet. However, this year's Apple iPad mini 3 does not really bring much innovation or change to the table, unlike the previous Apple iPad mini 2 which was basically a smaller Apple iPad Air. Updating our previous comparison article on which Apple iPad mini to buy we are now doing a comparison article between the Apple iPad mini 3, Apple iPad mini 2 and Apple iPad mini. If you've been wanting one and wondering which Apple iPad mini tablet to buy then read on and find out:

Design - Nothing new but gold colouring

In terms of design the iPad mini 3 does not change anything except for another microphone hole on the back. While the iPad mini 2 or formerly known as the iPad mini with Retina Display is thicker at 7.5mm than the 7.2mm iPad mini, the iPad mini 3 retains the same measurements and weight. The 7.9-inch Retina Display on the iPad mini 3 is also the same along with every other visual aspect of the iPad mini tablets. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing it does make it somewhat different compared to the iPad Air 2 which has removed several buttons, become even thinner than before and has buttons which have been angled downwards to compensate for this extra thin profile. There is one other design change though, you can now get the iPad mini 3 in champagne gold. The other two iPad mini tablets are only available in silver and space grey.

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The only change in design for the new Apple iPad 3 is the Touch ID home button and a gold coloured version

Tech Specs and Features - Just Touch ID with no NFC

Our TechNave.com Tech Specs comparison tool easily shows that this new Apple iPad mini 3 does not change much in terms of tech specs or features. The Apple A7 processor is still there. The PowerVR G6430 graphics is still the same. The 5MP rear camera and 1.2MP front camera are also still the same. The only major difference for the iPad 3 is that it has a Touch ID fingerprint scanner beneath the home button. This does not do much asides from being another way to unlock your screen or authenticate payments as there is no NFC and therefore no applicable way to use Apple Pay. Connectivity is still the same, but you do get iOS 8.1 right out of the box for the iPad mini 3.

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The only major difference or change that the Apple iPad mini 3 brings is a Touch ID fingerprint scanner built into the Home button

Performance - Lesser 64-bit A7 performance

Since the Apple iPad mini 2 has the same tech specs as the iPad Air, it offers similar Geekbench 3 scores of around 2643 while the Apple iPad mini chugs along at a mere 496. This easily makes the iPad mini 2 more than 5x more powerful than the iPad mini. If benchmarks aren't your thing, a simpler way of putting it is that on the iPad mini 2 it only takes seconds to load an app which would take minutes on the iPad mini. Both tablets are relatively lag free but the hardware on the iPad mini 2 is clearly faster and more capable. Battery life is more or less the same at more than 10 hours, perhaps because the iPad mini 2 packs a larger battery. Unfortunately, in terms of both battery life and performance the Apple iPad mini 3 does worse than the iPad mini 2. In Geekbench, the iPad mini 3 gets 2431 while in initial battery tests, the iPad mini 3 gets about 1 hour and a half less than the iPad mini 2.

Price - RM250 to RM350 difference

While we have yet to get official pricing for the Apple iPad mini 3, the Malaysia pricing of the Apple iPad mini 2 16GB WiFi version has gone down by RM250 or so from RM1249 to RM969. The Apple iPad mini 16GB WiFi version has also dropped RM150 from RM949 to RM799. Currently the US pricing for the Apple iPad mini 3 is $399 (RM1303) which could mean that the pricing for the iPad mini 3 in Malaysia could be at RM1299 or so. We'll know for sure when the iPad mini 3 gets launched in Malaysia sometime in November or December 2014 but we're guessing our estimates aren't too far off.

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Current Malaysia pricing for the Apple iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini

Conclusion - Apple iPad mini 2 for the win

Overall, the comparisons above make it very clear that if you're going to get any of the Apple iPad mini tablets soon, then your best bet would probably be the iPad mini 2 or iPad mini with Retina Display. Why pay RM100 to RM350 more for the same tablet with a fingerprint scanner and champagne gold colouring? The iPad mini 2 clearly delivers a much better Apple iPad experience in terms of performance, price and battery life than the iPad mini 3. Perhaps this is the reason why Apple have retained the first iPad mini as it provides a significant difference in terms of experience compared to the iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3.

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Not much has changed with the Apple iPad mini 3, including the measurements

While the price drop to RM799 is tempting, the fact that the iPad mini 1 will start choking on iOS 9 next year does not make it a good buy, even more so since it is now running a 32-bit A5 chip currently 3 generations behind the current A8. Overall, if you're looking to get an Apple iPad mini tablet this year and before the next iteration our recommendation would still be the Apple iPad mini 2.

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You can get practically everything else (except for a Touch ID fingerprint scanner and gold colour) with the Apple iPad mini 2

The iPad mini 2 price is just right, the tech specs future-proof it for another 2 years or so and it's performance is still good enough to keep the ever growing iOS satisfied for a while yet. If you must have a gold coloured iPad then by all means, get the iPad mini 3, but a Touch ID fingerprint scanner is not a good enough reason to pay another RM250 to RM350 in our opinion. However, if you are getting the iPad mini 2, we'd suggest getting at least the 32GB version and above as pricing has gone down enough to make it worth the money. Add on Cellular if you're mobile most of the time and you have what is likely to be the best iPad mini tablet to get until the next one.

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