Why I’m not buying the iPad mini 3

Apple this morning announced its yearly iPad update, showcasing the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. The only problem is that one of them wasn't really an update.

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Apple this morning announced its yearly iPad update, showcasing the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. The only problem is that one of them wasn't really an update.

The iPad mini 3 is almost completely identical to last year's iPad mini 2 (also known as the iPad mini with Retina Display), with the exception of a Touch ID sensor embedded in the home button. Sure, you can now get a 128GB model, and you can get it champagne gold, but that doesn't stop the fact you're buying last year's technology at this year's prices.

In fact, the outright cost of a 16GB iPad mini 2 with Wi-Fi and 4G was AUD$629 when it launched. The outright cost of an 16GB iPad mini 3 with Wi-Fi and 4G for AUD$659. If you buy an iPad mini 3, you're actually paying a premium over last year, for almost exactly the same device.

Pricing aside, it just feels dishonest. When you buy a newly released gadget, you make the assumption that it's actually new. The name – iPad mini 3 – suggests it's an upgrade, but it's not. I'm certain there'll be a few iPad mini 2 owners who'll blindly upgrade not knowing they're buying almost exactly the same device.

Another problem with re-selling last year's hardware is exactly that: it's last year's hardware. This means you're already buying a device that has one year less in its life-span. My two year old iPad mini is noticeably slower after the iOS 8 upgrade, and I'd hate to see what iOS9 will do it. The iPad mini 3 has an A7 processor in it – the same as the last year's iPad Air. My best guess is that it will deal with two years of updates fine, and start to struggle after the third. But this shouldn't be the case, because if you bought if was new hardware, you'd get an extra year of usage.

Apple clearly understands the iPad mini 3 is an underwhelming device. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, spent less than a minute talking about Apple's "new" small tablet during this morning's presentation. Despite spending what seemed like forever talking about the iPad Air 2, Schiller had a single slide dedicated to the iPad mini 3.

That's not to say the iPad mini 2 was a bad tablet – it's a great device – and Apple is still selling it. If you're looking to buy an iPad mini 3, you shouldn't. Prior to this morning, I wanted to, but now I'm not. Touch ID is great, magical even, but it's not worth a AUD$130 premium over the iPad mini 2's new price. If you want to buy an iPad mini 3, save yourself some money and buy an iPad mini 2 while you still can. It's the same tablet, just cheaper.

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