Apple unveils the iPad mini 3: golden boy with Touch ID


Apple entered the small tablet fray two upgrade cycles ago, and did it with a fine success, creating some of the world's thinnest, lightest, and most premium-looking slates in the form of the iPad mini, and the next mini with Retina Display. The gang from Cupertino just took the stage there, and announced the third generation of the line, dubbed simply iPad mini 3.

"Stop the presses!" shouted noone ever for a consequent update of an already established tablet line, because, seriously, how many ways are there that you can improve a tablet? You can make it thinner, lighter, with a better display, and throw in some extra hardware and software features, and that's about it. Well, that's not precisely what Apple did with the iPad mini 3, as the small slate has remained largely the same. It's gotten the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, though, which means you can now use it with Apple Pay - the company's budding mobile payment system, too. Let's recap what Apple just unveiled.


Last year, the iPad Air's major redesign followed the cues of the iPad mini, which comes to show how spot on has the small tablet line of Apple been in terms of chassis construction in the first place. The new iPad mini 3 retains the shape and form of its predecessor, as it's still the most elegant and premium small tablet on the market. This achievement is even more respectable given that the mini 3 is crafted out of metal, unlike most slates in the sub-10" category, which for the vast majority are plasticky. The mini 3 has also been given a new, golden color option, in line with the times, which looks pretty svelte. Apple also added the inevitable Touch ID scanner for the first time in a mini slate, which means you can now easily unlock the display, do iTunes and other purchases simply by pressing your finger against the home key.


All current iPads come with the high-resolution "Retina" displays that flaunt 2048 x 1536 pixels, returning 324ppi for the 7.9-inch iPad mini 3, which is still more than enough for any usage you might want to throw at it. As for color presentation, the previous mini edition had some issues with the standard sRGB gamut, falling short of its full coverage, and having the white point off the mark. This has probably gone unnoticed by the average user, but we hope that Apple has improved the mini 3 in this respect, and it will become clear when we do our screen tests on the new slate.

Processor and storage

We expected the new iPads to be shipping with a souped-up version of the A8 processor that is in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Surprisingly enough, only the iPad Air 2 did, bearing the A8X, while the mini 3 has kept its 64-bit A7 processor, though it's unclear if it's clocked the same yet. As for the RAM amount,  it's probably remained 1 GB, as Apple didn't stress any silicon changes for the munchkin. The storage options have improved, though - while the basic mini 3 still starts at 16 GB, the next option jumps straight to 64 GB, and there's the 128 GB one, too.


Believe it or not, people use tablets to capture stills and video a lot, and the smaller the tablet is, the more likely it is that you will see more than a few at a concert or on the street, snapping away. The mini 3 comes with a 5 MP iSight camera, and a 1.2-megapixel front shooter for selfies. 


Battery life is no longer one of the greatest advantages of Apple’s tablets, as now Android, and even Windows slates, can run videos all day before dying out. Apple seems to be sticking with the 10-hour battery formula, which is plenty, and in line with the competition.

Price, release date, and carrier availability

Apple adheres strictly to its end-of-the-workweek release schedule, so you can rest assured that the new iPads will appear on store shelves on the next Friday, October 24th, with preorders beginning tomorrow, October 17th. Apple hasn't changed the pricing, either: the iPad mini 3 starts off at $399 for the Wi-Fi versions, and blasts off from there, in $100 increments, depending on the 64 GB or 128 GB storage amounts. The options with cellular connectivity are $529, $629, and $729, respectively. As before, the mini 3 supports 14 LTE bands, so you might want to check the local carrier support when you are globetrotting.

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