Why we’re washing our hands of the iPad mini 3 review

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iPad sales are slowing. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Gold finish notwithstanding, the iPad mini 3 looks awfully familiar. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

To paraphrase Pontius Pilate, I can find no fault with the iPad mini 3. Having said that, I can wash my hands of a proper review and allow Apple’s new half-pint tablet to be crucified in the budget-conscious court of public opinion.

Nice as it is, the iPad mini 3 truly is a gigantic ripoff when compared to its predecessor. It’s got the same specs, the same basic form factor, the same functionality and battery life.

If we were to write a review, it would read something like this: “Touch ID is a swell addition. Please read our review of the iPad mini 2 for more info. That is all.”

Beyond the numbers in their names, the only noticeable differences between the two models are the addition of Touch ID, a new gold finish option (in addition to last year’s silver and space gray) and a couple of models with higher storage capacities (64GB and 128GB).

Oh, and the price tag: The iPad mini 3 starts at $399 for the Wi-Fi-only model with 16GB of storage. The equivalent iPad mini 2 starts at $100 less.

Frankly, the new model’s not worth the extra money.

The iPad mini 3 is great, but so is the iPad mini 2. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The iPad mini 3 is great, but so is the iPad mini 2. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Even the delightful addition of Touch ID, which lets you log in with your fingerprint, is sort of crippled in the iPad mini 3. It works great for unlocking your device and online shopping, but you can’t use it in the real world: Unlike the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple’s tiny tablet isn’t set up for use with Apple Pay at stores and restaurants across the United States. (Neither is the iPad Air 2, although both new tablets contain an NFC chip that’s been mysteriously neutered by Apple.)

All that said, the iPad mini 3 is light, powerful and super-portable — just like the iPad mini 2. It’s a wonderful small tablet for consuming audio and video — light enough to hold above your head as you lounge in bed, with a beautiful-looking Retina display and a battery that lasts for hours. Just like its predecessor.

Anybody who is already swimming in the Mac ecosystem will want a tablet running iOS 8 — especially if they’ve upgraded to OS X Yosemite, which works hand in hand with Apple’s latest mobile operating system. The iPad mini 3 comes with iOS 8, but it’s a painless free upgrade for the mini 2.

As Pilate said a couple thousand years ago, “What is truth?”

In this case, the truth is that unless you live for gold-tone gear or absolutely hate tapping in your password when making online purchases, there’s really no reason to pay extra for the iPad mini 3. It’s a great little tablet, but it’s not a great deal.