iPad mini 2 still packs the most value into a tiny tablet

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Apple stops selling its last non-Retina iOS device.
Despite a slight speed bump, the iPad mini 4 just isn't worth the money.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The new iPad mini 4, just announced last week, is good but probably not as good as it should be. In recent benchmark tests, it performs only slightly better than the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus of 2014. It’s still nowhere near as fast as the current-generation iPad Air 2 and it’s only a tad faster than the iPad mini 2, which Apple is still selling for $269. Believe it or not, you’re still probably better off getting the two-year-old iPad mini instead.

The report of the iPad mini 4’s measurable speed improvement comes from Ars Technica, which quickly snapped up the new device and put it to the Geekbench test. It scores a 3,121 overall, 3,569 for the integer benchmark, 3,360 for floating point and 1,748 for memory.

It turns out that Apple overclocked the A8 processor in the iPad mini 4 to 1.5 GHz, not far off from the 1.4 GHz A8 chip in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. This means overall that the new iPad is about 20 percent faster than the previous iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 2, which both used an A7 processor.

The iPad mini 3 is gone, but for $130 less than the latest model you can grab a very capable iPad mini 2. The only features you’d be missing out on are a small speed bump, Touch ID and Split View multitasking. If you ask me, none of those in particular warrant the extra 130 bucks. Plus, if you want more storage, the 32GB iPad mini 2 is only $319 now. If you wanted anything more than a 16GB iPad mini 4, you’d have to get the 64GB option for $499. Now you’re looking at almost $200 more than the iPad mini 2. You probably aren’t that desperate to use two apps at once.

Granted, the iPad mini 4 does have one more perk over the previous-generation as well as the iPhone 6 and new iPod touch: 2GB of RAM. That’s on par with the iPad Air 2 and probably helps significantly to power Split View multitasking.  More RAM won’t necessarily increase the speed too much, but it does mean the iPad mini 4 is less likely to forget about the apps you’re using or have to reload Safari tabs after they’re inactive.

Overall, it just doesn’t seem like the newest iPad mini is worth all that cash. I’m not even sure if Apple would disagree, since iPad mini has been barely more than a footnote on stage the past two years. And last year’s iPad mini 3 wasn’t that great of a value either for $399.

If you’re shopping for a new iPad and don’t know which one to buy, Apple also conveniently compares the models on its website. It’s far from a Geekbench breakdown but can still put things into perspective. One thing is clear though: Apple doesn’t care much about the new iPad mini models these days, so why should you?