Notebookcheck

Apple iPad Mini 3 Tablet Review

Florian Wimmer (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 11/06/2014

Mini update. The changes of the new iPad Mini 3 are small: You only get a fingerprint reader. Otherwise, it is virtually identical with its predecessor. Our review shows why the iPad Mini 3 is still a very good tablet.

In Review: Apple iPad Mini 3.

For the original German review, see here.

Lack of innovations, a slow-growing tablet market, too many products – Apple was confronted with a lot of criticism recently, including some new and some old arguments. Still, this didn't affect the sales numbers, the iPhone 6 is a huge success. But what about the new iPads? We review the new iPad Mini 3, Apple's 7.9-inch device, where the last generation just wasn't as good as the larger brother, the iPad Air. So it is a bit surprising that Apple did not really change anything at a first look: The device is still powered by the Apple A7 SoC, you still get a high-resolution Retina display and the battery capacity is similar as well.

This means the changes are pretty small: "Touch ID," the fingerprint sensor that we already know from the iPhone is integrated, just as Apple Pay. Besides the version with 16 GB storage, the iPad Mini 3 is now also available with 64 and 128 GB storage. The predecessor is not available anymore in these configurations in the Apple store, but it is elsewhere on the Internet. The additional charge for the new version is pretty hefty: The iPad Mini 3 costs 100 Euros (~$124) more than the comparable iPad Mini Retina model. The most expensive version with LTE and 128 GB even costs 709 Euros (~$880). All models are also 10 Euros (~$12) more expensive than the iPad Mini Retina at its launch. If you think this is too expensive, then you can still buy the iPad Mini 2 for more moderate prices.

So the iPad Mini 3 is more of a facelift of the predecessor. "Never change a winning team" or actually lack of innovations? We will find out in our review. Comparison devices include the predecessor Apple iPad Mini Retina to see if there are any other changes, and also the Google Nexus 7Asus VivoTab Note 8Nvidia Shield Tablet P1761WHP Slate 8 Pro 7600egHuawei MediaPad M1 8.0Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7.

Case

The case is available in three colors.
The case is available in three colors.

Put the iPad Mini Retina and the current iPad Mini 3 on top of each other and you quickly see that the dimensions are similar, even the measurements are completely identical. The weight doesn't differ, either; however, our review unit has an LTE module, which adds another 10 grams to the weight.

Nothing really changed on the case, either: It still consists of a high-quality aluminum cover that accommodates the components and the display. The build quality is still top-notch, just like the stability and the gaps. The front is covered by glass, is very glossy and it is just as susceptible to fingerprints as any other tablet. The front color white or black also continues at the back in the case of the LTE version with a small cover. The most noticeable change is the "Touch ID" button, which replaces the old home button and includes a fingerprint reader.

Apple introduces a new color for the iPad Mini 3: The color combination gold/white is now available besides spacegray/black and silver/white. We chose a review unit with the new color combination, which looks very noble.

iFixit already dismantled the Apple iPad Mini 3 and checked the repairability. The result: 2 out of 10 points, because the manufacturer uses a lot of glue and even the "Touch ID" button has to be carefully removed and transferred to a new panel if you ever have to change the latter, for instance.

A lot of glue is used for the iPad Mini 3, maintenance is very difficult. (Picture: iFixit)
A lot of glue is used for the iPad Mini 3, maintenance is very difficult. (Picture: iFixit)
The iPad Mini 3 should only be disassembled by experts. (Picture: iFixit)
The iPad Mini 3 should only be disassembled by experts. (Picture: iFixit)


Connectivity

Our version has 16 GB storage and an LTE module for the Internet on the road. Other configurations are Wi-Fi only with 64 or 128 GB iNAND flash. Physical connections are limited to a stereo jack at the top and a Lightning connector at the bottom.

You can criticize that Apple still uses a proprietary connector instead of the standardized micro-USB port. At least the cable and the power adaptor are separate, so you can also use the power adaptor with a micro-USB cable for other devices.

The most important new feature of the iPad Mini 3 is the "Touch ID" sensor, which replaces the old home button and recognizes fingerprints. Contrary to the Samsung Galaxy S5, for example, you don't have to swipe above the fingerprint reader, but just put your finger on the sensor. It also doesn't matter from which side you use your finger, it will always unlock the device. The sensor was always reliable during our review. You will have to decide for yourself what you think about the storing of your fingerprints in regard to data protection.

Left side: no ports
Left side: no ports
Right side: mute, volume rocker, Nano-SIM slot
Right side: mute, volume rocker, Nano-SIM slot
Bottom: speakers, Lightning connector
Bottom: speakers, Lightning connector
Top: 3.5 mm stereo jack, standby
Top: 3.5 mm stereo jack, standby

Software

iOS 8.1 is obviously preloaded on the iPad Mini 3, but it is also available as an update for the iPad Mini Retina. The design is already familiar from iOS 7. The background still moves when you tilt the iPad, so objects seem to hover over a three-dimensional background – a great effect that looks very nice. The operating system is still intuitive and accessible in its 8th version, but the difference to iOS 7 is actually not that big. Instead, the manufacturer changed many details like the possibility to share purchased apps with other family members or continue documents on other Apple devices. However, you still have to live with crashes and performance issues of some third-party apps. More information about the new features is available in the review of the iPhone 6.

It is good that Apple's office suite with Keynote, Pages and Numbers is available for free as soon as you activate iOS 8.1. iMovie and GarageBand are free downloads in the AppStore as well.

Communication & GPS 

The communication modules did not really change, either: You still get support for the WLAN standards 802.11 a/b/g/n; the latest 802.11 ac standard is still missing. The latter is pretty much standard for premium devices nowadays, but at least you can use 2.4 and 5 GHz networks. NFC is not available, either, even though the controller is integrated according to iFixit – but without the necessary antennas. Bluetooth 4.0, however, is included. 

Our review device also has a WWAN module for access to the Internet on the road. Four GSM bands, five UMTS bands and even 14 LTE frequencies are supported by the module. However, the transfer speeds of the iPad Mini 3 are limited to 100 Mbps downstream. We always had a good signal via UMTS in the metropolitan area with the pretty weak E-Plus network.

However, we were not really satisfied with the WLAN signal: We still had two-thirds of the signal with a distance of ten meters from the router and through two walls, but websites sometimes loaded very slowly. This changes when you get closer to the router, but there is still a slight delay. Our colleagues from heise.de already reported connection problems of iOS 8 in October, so there is still hope for a fix via update.

There were no problems with the location of the GPS module: We took the iPad Mini 3 on a short bicycle ride and compared it with the professional navigation device Garmin Edge 500, which acts as a reference device. The performance of the iPad Mini 3 is very good and the deviation of the track length compared to the professional navigation device is just 90 meters, even difficult sections like the bridge are no problem.

GPS iPad Mini 3 – Complete
GPS iPad Mini 3 – Complete
GPS iPad Mini 3 – Bridge
GPS iPad Mini 3 – Bridge
GPS iPad Mini 3 – Forest
GPS iPad Mini 3 – Forest
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Complete
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Complete
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Forest
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – Forest


Cameras & Multimedia

The cameras of the iPad Mini 3 are similar to the iPad Mini Retina: At the back is an iSight camera with 5 megapixels, which uses a lens with 5 elements. We actually like the picture quality under daylight: Details appear sharp, the focus works reliably and the colors are accurate as well. The HDR mode adds more dynamic to bright and dark areas. However, there is strong signal noise in bad lighting conditions since there is no LED flash or other illumination option, so the quality of the pictures is not very good.

Videos can be recorded in 1080p with a frame rate of 30 fps. This is sufficient for good videos, but fast movements can be a little jerky. The webcam at the front only has a 1.2 MP sensor and is well-suited for video calls.

Apple iPad Mini 3 camera
Apple iPad Mini 3 camera
Apple iPad Mini 3 camera HDR
Apple iPad Mini 3 camera HDR
Apple iPad Mini 3 camera
Apple iPad Mini 3 camera
Apple iPad Mini 3 camera – low light
Apple iPad Mini 3 camera – low light
Canon EOS 450D
Canon EOS 450D
Canon EOS 450D
Canon EOS 450D

Accessories

Apple puts a USB power adaptor and a cable from USB to Lightning connector into the box. Configurations with a WWAN module also have a tool to remove the Nano-SIM card.

As always, Apple offers many accessories for its products, including the popular Smart Cover for the iPad Mini 3: Seven different colors are available and Apple charges 39 Euros (~$48) for it. If you also want to protect the back, then you can get the Smart Case made of leather, which is available for 69 Euros (~$85). Apple's Wireless Keyboard can be used with the iPad Mini 3 as well, and it also costs 69 Euros (~$85). The EarPods are headphones with a remote control and a microphone, and they work with the iPad Mini 3: Apple charges 29 Euros (~$35) for them.

Apple Wireless Keyboard
Apple Wireless Keyboard
Earpods
Earpods
Smart Case
Smart Case
Smart Cover
Smart Cover

Warranty

Apple grants a warranty of one year for its iPad. For another 99 Euros (~$122) you can get AppleCare+, which means you can even get the device repaired if you damaged it accidentally for a service fee of 49 Euros (~$60). The battery, the power adaptor and the USB cable are covered as well. AppleCare+ extends the warranty period to 24 months.

Input Devices & Handling

Operating the Apple iPad Mini 3 is pretty intuitive and quick to learn, even if you never used an Apple tablet before. There are also several features that improve the handling. Those are usually multi-touch gestures; you can, for instance, use four fingers to return to the home menu. This works very reliably. There is one small drawback: Because of the very high display resolution, some control elements, for example in the browser, are so small that you don't always hit them.

The touchscreen is convenient to use, precise up into the peripheral areas, has good gliding capabilities and it already reacts on light inputs. The physical buttons leave a very sophisticated impression as well, they have a well-defined pressure point and a physical button to mute the device is a comfortable feature.

The on-screen keyboard is pretty simple and does not support swipe inputs, only voice inputs are possible besides the normal typing. At least you now get word predictions with "QuickType" and you can also use third-party keyboards. The input does a gob job in general, handles quick inputs well and you can choose one of hundreds of alternatives if you need more features.

Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode

Display

The 7.9-inch Retina display still has a very high resolution of 2048x1536 pixels, which means even small details are very sharp. There are often discussions whether you need such a high resolution for a pretty small screen or not. It is a fact that Apple found some convincing applications for it that can be impressive: E-papers in the Newsstand can be read without zooming because the small text is razor-sharp. The same applies for our website notebookcheck.net, we can read everything without zooming. 

The luminance of the display is slightly lower compared to the iPad Mini Retina: 344 cd/m² on average vs. 398.4 cd/m². The brightness distribution is not perfectly even with 86%, but the human eye cannot see any brightness differences, even with large colored areas.

354
cd/m²
332
cd/m²
318
cd/m²
370
cd/m²
357
cd/m²
324
cd/m²
370
cd/m²
349
cd/m²
322
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 370 cd/m² Average: 344 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 86 %
Center on Battery: 357 cd/m²
Contrast: 585:1 (Black: 0.61 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.35 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 2.09 | - Ø
55% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.4
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPad mini Retina
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Google Nexus 7 2013
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Screen
18%
-7%
-63%
7%
-5%
Brightness
344
398
16%
513
49%
426
24%
261
-24%
469
36%
Brightness Distribution
86
89
3%
87
1%
91
6%
91
6%
92
7%
Black Level *
0.61
0.54
11%
1.07
-75%
0.669
-10%
0.68
-11%
Contrast
585
761
30%
513
-12%
668
14%
669
14%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.35
3.32
1%
2.64
21%
6.73
-101%
3.66
-9%
3.88
-16%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.09
1.11
47%
2.61
-25%
8.52
-308%
2.51
-20%
3.38
-62%
Gamma
2.4 100%
2.47 97%
2.35 102%
2.39 100%
2.22 108%
2.74 88%
CCT
6851 95%
6671 97%
6701 97%
5710 114%
6450 101%
6537 99%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
55
100
82%

* ... smaller is better

The iPad Mini 3 cannot quite keep up with its predecessor in terms of black value and contrast, either: The black value of 0.61 cd/m² is a bit higher than before, and you can actually see a slight gray veil over large black surfaces. Samsung’s AMOLED panels, for example, in the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, are just unbeatable in this section since black pixels are not illuminated. The lower brightness and the higher black value also result in a worse contrast ratio of 585:1.

Thanks to the very high display resolution, the contents are very sharp and three-dimensional; the colors look nice but could actually be more vivid in our opinion. A further analysis with CalMAN software and a special measurement device also shows that the colors are a bit too pale compared to the reference color space sRGB. Blue tones have the highest deviation from the ideal value and the saturation was reduced, but this avoids a possible blue cast in return. The grayscale performance is very good and the deviations to the reference color space are comparatively low.

CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker AdobeRGB
CalMAN ColorChecker AdobeRGB

The glossy surface, which is basically standard for smartphones and tablets, does affect the visibility under direct sunlight. However, the iPad Mini 3 can actually be used in brighter environments and you can usually recognize the contents quite well. You won’t have any issues in the shade or indoors.

Color deviations or contrast reductions are no problem for the IPS display of the iPad Mini 3: You can see the display content even from very flat angles. Fortunately, the gap between the glass surface and the panel does not result in restrictions for the viewing angle this time. However, the glossy surface can once again affect the visibility.

Outdoor use
Outdoor use
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

Even the Apple iPad Mini Retina was ahead of its rivals in terms of performance thanks to the Apple A7 SoC, and this does not change with the iPad Mini 3 since it uses the same SoC. The SoC consists of two 64-bit cores clocked at 1.3 GHz, which are supported by 1024 MB memory in the case of the iPad Mini 3. Look at the raw CPU performance and you can see that the iPad Mini 3 is roughly 50% ahead of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and also clearly ahead of the other rivals. It is therefore no surprise that the handling is very smooth. You also get a co-processor, which collects data from different sensors like the accelerometer, gyroscope or the compass to reduce the workload for the main processor.

Linpack Android / IOS
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
1480 MFLOPS ∼50%
Apple iPad mini Retina
998.18 MFLOPS ∼34% -33%
Google Nexus 7 2013
253.634 MFLOPS ∼9% -83%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
727.011 MFLOPS ∼25% -51%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
770.167 MFLOPS ∼26% -48%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
726 MFLOPS ∼25% -51%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
532.072 MFLOPS ∼18% -64%
Single Thread (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
887 MFLOPS ∼87%
Apple iPad mini Retina
536.03 MFLOPS ∼52% -40%
Google Nexus 7 2013
97.481 MFLOPS ∼10% -89%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
429.915 MFLOPS ∼42% -52%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
384.557 MFLOPS ∼38% -57%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
673 MFLOPS ∼66% -24%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
211.167 MFLOPS ∼21% -76%
AnTuTu Benchmark v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
37527 Points ∼47%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
36109 Points ∼45% -4%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
55435 Points ∼69% +48%
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile V1
3D Graphics Tests (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
1091 Points ∼33%
Apple iPad mini Retina
860 Points ∼26% -21%
Google Nexus 7 2013
1179 Points ∼36% +8%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
2159 Points ∼65% +98%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
2119 Points ∼64% +94%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
1197 Points ∼36% +10%
2D Graphics Tests (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
250 Points ∼4%
Apple iPad mini Retina
614 Points ∼9% +146%
Google Nexus 7 2013
2778 Points ∼40% +1011%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
4118 Points ∼59% +1547%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
4354 Points ∼62% +1642%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
3884 Points ∼56% +1454%
Memory Tests (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
3152 Points ∼12%
Apple iPad mini Retina
4787 Points ∼19% +52%
Google Nexus 7 2013
2949 Points ∼12% -6%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
3048 Points ∼12% -3%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
4807 Points ∼19% +53%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
3821 Points ∼15% +21%
Disk Tests (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
18775 Points ∼14%
Apple iPad mini Retina
20586 Points ∼15% +10%
Google Nexus 7 2013
17954 Points ∼13% -4%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
24230 Points ∼18% +29%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
28478 Points ∼21% +52%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
8094 Points ∼6% -57%
CPU Tests (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
35280 Points ∼13%
Apple iPad mini Retina
35673 Points ∼13% +1%
Google Nexus 7 2013
11558 Points ∼4% -67%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
19108 Points ∼7% -46%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
22985 Points ∼8% -35%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
16687 Points ∼6% -53%
System (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
2030 Points ∼23%
Apple iPad mini Retina
2134 Points ∼24% +5%
Google Nexus 7 2013
3636 Points ∼41% +79%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
5487 Points ∼62% +170%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
6285 Points ∼71% +210%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
4071 Points ∼46% +101%

Legend

 
Apple iPad Mini 3 Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad mini Retina Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Google Nexus 7 2013 Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064A, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB SSD
 
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB SSD
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa, ARM Mali-T628 MP6, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W Nvidia Tegra K1, NVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Asus VivoTab Note 8 (M80TA) Intel Atom Z3740, Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0 HiSilicon Kirin 910, ARM Mali-450 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg Nvidia Tegra 4, NVIDIA GeForce Tegra 4, 16 GB eMMC Flash

Similar to the predecessor, the iPad Mini 3 uses the very powerful PowerVR G6430 graphics unit. Our synthetic benchmarks show that it is only beaten by the Kepler GPU inside the Nvidia Shield Tablet, otherwise it is much faster than the majority of tablet GPUs. But it should be since it has to render all the contents for the high display resolution of 2084x1536 pixels, and this is no problem for the PowerVR G6430. We could not determine a throttling of the performance: The GFXBench 3.0 battery test, which renders a sequence thirty times in a row, showed the same result compared to a single run.

3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
7798 Points ∼12%
Apple iPad mini Retina
7902 Points ∼12% +1%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
14318 Points ∼23% +84%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
21086 Points ∼33% +170%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
8327 Points ∼13% +7%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
15245 Points ∼24% +95%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
19674 Points ∼4%
Apple iPad mini Retina
18343 Points ∼4% -7%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
13781 Points ∼3% -30%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
39590 Points ∼9% +101%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
4410 Points ∼1% -78%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
13866 Points ∼3% -30%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
14699 Points ∼8%
Apple iPad mini Retina
14180 Points ∼8% -4%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
13897 Points ∼7% -5%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
33129 Points ∼18% +125%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
4925 Points ∼3% -66%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
14150 Points ∼8% -4%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
13.2 fps ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
5.5 fps ∼1% -58%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
31.2 fps ∼6% +136%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
8.8 fps ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
2.8 fps ∼3% -68%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
29.8 fps ∼27% +239%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
22.7 fps ∼2%
Apple iPad mini Retina
27 fps ∼2% +19%
Google Nexus 7 2013
16 fps ∼1% -30%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
22.8 fps ∼2% 0%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
66 fps ∼6% +191%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
28.6 fps ∼8%
Apple iPad mini Retina
21 fps ∼6% -27%
Google Nexus 7 2013
16 fps ∼4% -44%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
14.1 fps ∼4% -51%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
57 fps ∼16% +99%

The iPad Mini 3 is also very fast when it comes to web browsing: Navigating the web is pretty quick in general, if it wasn’t for the WLAN connectivity issues that we already mentioned in the Communication section. Loading websites and showing effects, however, were no problem: Websites loaded quickly, HTML5 sites and videos worked as intended. The synthetic benchmarks confirm the fast browser performance of the iPad Mini 3.

Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
440 ms * ∼11%
Apple iPad mini Retina
271.8 ms * ∼7% +38%
Google Nexus 7 2013
1104.6 ms * ∼27% -151%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
563.9 ms * ∼14% -28%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1067.1 ms * ∼27% -143%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W (Chrome 36)
525 ms * ∼13% -19%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W (Android 4.4)
458 ms * ∼11% -4%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
1444.1 ms * ∼36% -228%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
612.9 ms * ∼15% -39%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
5722 Points ∼13%
Apple iPad mini Retina
5180 Points ∼11% -9%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
4376 Points ∼10% -24%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
6777 Points ∼15% +18%
Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0
1467 Points ∼3% -74%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
4901 Points ∼11% -14%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
5447 ms * ∼9%
Apple iPad mini Retina
6037.3 ms * ∼10% -11%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
8251.3 ms * ∼14% -51%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
7894.5 ms * ∼13% -45%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
4286 ms * ∼7% +21%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
5363 ms * ∼9% +2%
WebXPRT 2013
Offline Notes (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
624 ms * ∼13%
Apple iPad mini Retina
612.6 ms * ∼13% +2%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
1254.8 ms * ∼26% -101%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1308.7 ms * ∼27% -110%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
748 ms * ∼16% -20%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
956 ms * ∼20% -53%
Stocks Dashboard (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
403 ms * ∼11%
Apple iPad mini Retina
452.6 ms * ∼12% -12%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
1062.1 ms * ∼28% -164%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1323.3 ms * ∼35% -228%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
742 ms * ∼20% -84%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
968.7 ms * ∼26% -140%
Face Detection (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
1682 ms * ∼14%
Apple iPad mini Retina
1848.6 ms * ∼15% -10%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
2276.3 ms * ∼19% -35%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1843 ms * ∼15% -10%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
975 ms * ∼8% +42%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
2301.6 ms * ∼19% -37%
Photo Effects (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
876 ms * ∼10%
Apple iPad mini Retina
802.8 ms * ∼9% +8%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
1100.7 ms * ∼12% -26%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1032.3 ms * ∼12% -18%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
698 ms * ∼8% +20%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
2806.1 ms * ∼31% -220%
Overall Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
533 Points ∼23%
Apple iPad mini Retina
519 Points ∼23% -3%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
307 Points ∼13% -42%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
309 Points ∼14% -42%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
530 Points ∼23% -1%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
267 Points ∼12% -50%
Vellamo 3.x
Metal (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1385 Points ∼38%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
1754 (min: 1729) Points ∼48%
Multicore Beta (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
1611 Points ∼43%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
2460 (min: 2444) Points ∼65%
Browser (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (Chrome 36)
2342 Points ∼31%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W (Chrome 36)
4860 (min: 4833) Points ∼64%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W (Android 4.4.2)
2869 (min: 2681) Points ∼38%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Apple iPad Mini 3
6923 Points ∼35%
Apple iPad mini Retina
5151 Points ∼26% -26%
Google Nexus 7 2013
2248 Points ∼11% -68%
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
3546 Points ∼18% -49%
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
5119 Points ∼26% -26%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W (Chrome 36)
8040 Points ∼41% +16%
HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
5344 Points ∼27% -23%

* ... smaller is better

Gaming Performance

GPU-demanding games like Asphalt 8 can also be played on less powerful devices because the resolution is just not as high. The iPad Mini 3 on the other hand has a very high resolution of 2048x1536 pixels, but the game is still smooth and just looks very good thanks to the high resolution. We can hardly see aliasing at the edges and the graphics are very sharp and crisp. The controls via touchscreen and position sensor also work well. This also means there are obviously no problems with simple titles like Angry Birds: Star Wars 2.

Games are no problem for the iPad Mini 3.
Games are no problem for the iPad Mini 3.
The powerful GPU can also handle complex titles.
The powerful GPU can also handle complex titles.

Emissions

Temperature

The temperature development does not really differ from the predecessor – and this is a good thing: The iPad Mini Retina was already very inconspicuous in terms of temperatures, despite the high performance and the aluminum chassis. The maximum temperature of the iPad Mini 3 is even slightly lower compared to the predecessor: We can measure up to 36.7 °C at the front and at the back. Idling results in lower temperatures of up to 34.9 °C, but the difference is hardly perceptible. All in all, the Apple iPad Mini 3 is a very convenient device in regard to the temperature development.

Max. Load
 32.5 °C36 °C36.7 °C 
 31.4 °C33.3 °C36.2 °C 
 30.2 °C31.2 °C34.5 °C 
Maximum: 36.7 °C
Average: 33.6 °C
34.2 °C36.7 °C32.2 °C
34.3 °C30 °C31.6 °C
33.4 °C32.6 °C31.1 °C
Maximum: 36.7 °C
Average: 32.9 °C
Power Supply (max.)  45.2 °C | Room Temperature 22.1 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speakers

Similar to the predecessor, the iPad Mini 3 has two stereo speakers, but the device cannot create a real stereo effect since the two speakers surround the Lightning connector. However, the sound is powerful, has noticeable bass and it is well-balanced. There are no distortions and the sound is well-differentiated, even with higher volumes.

We already criticized the position of the speakers in our last review of the predecessor: First, you can easily cover them with the hand in landscape mode, and they direct the sound toward the bottom when the iPad Mini 3 is lying on a table. Still, the overall sound quality is impressive for a tablet and there is no criticism about the sound via stereo jack.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Apple actually tinkered with the energy management, but that can also be a result of the changed software. Both the minimum and maximum idle consumption were reduced, just like the absolute maximum consumption. However, the average load consumption is much higher in return with 7.2 Watts. We will check the effects on the runtime in the next section.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.8 / 3.9 / 4 Watt
Load midlight 7.2 / 7.8 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The changed consumption values actually only have a small impact on the battery runtimes. The battery capacity of 23.8 Wh is similar to the predecessor and is still pretty generous for a compact tablet. Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (18.62 Wh) and the Nvidia Shield Tablet (19.75 Wh) both have batteries with a capacity of less than 20 Wh.

Still, Samsung’s tablet can keep up in the WLAN test, but the Nvidia Shield Tablet is far behind. Google's Nexus 7 or the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 cannot compete with Apple’s tablet, either.

In general, the Apple iPad Mini 3 can compete with the runtimes of other tablets or sometimes even surpass them. This means you can easily cover a medium-haul flight and browse the web for more than one business day before you have to recharge the battery.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
20h 15min
WiFi Surfing
8h 53min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
10h 12min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 30min
Apple iPad Mini 3
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPad mini Retina
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Google Nexus 7 2013
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 inch
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 16 GB SSD
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Mali-T628 MP6, 5420 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
Battery Runtime
2%
-15%
-6%
11%
-34%
Load
210
221
5%
198
-6%
202
-4%
250
19%
128
-39%
WiFi
533
543
2%
411
-23%
417
-22%
544
2%
347
-35%
H.264
612
601
-2%
653
7%
442
-28%

Verdict

In review: Apple iPad Mini 3.
In review: Apple iPad Mini 3.

Mini update is really the correct term here: Except for the fingerprint reader and a new color for the case, the third generation of the iPad Mini does not offer any new features or components. iOS 8.1 can also be installed on older devices via update and the iPad Mini 2 is also available with more flash storage on the Internet. So is the additional charge of 100 Euros (~$124) for the "Touch ID" sensor in the iPad Mini 3 justified? We don’t think so – if you are not crazy about the security and have to secure your data via fingerprint, then you should save some money and get the iPad Mini 2, which even has a slightly brighter screen.

Apart from that the iPad Mini 3 is once again a very good tablet with a razor-sharp Retina display, a great build quality, fast processor and a powerful graphics unit. The office suite is free as well and the camera at the back takes decent pictures. The GPS module is very accurate, the touchscreen precise and the temperature development low.

Drawbacks are the problems with the WLAN connection, but hopefully they can be fixed with a software update, and some apps still have problems with iOS 8. Typical for Apple are, unfortunately, the bad maintainability, the limited warranty period of 12 months and the proprietary Lightning connector.

If you are planning to buy an iPad Mini, then you should really consider if you want to pay 100 Euros (~$124) more for the minor changes; the less expensive iPad Mini Retina is basically identical and just as sophisticated. But it does not matter which iPad Mini you get, you get a very good tablet either way.

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In review: Apple iPad Mini 3.
In review: Apple iPad Mini 3.

Specifications

Apple iPad Mini 3 (iPad Series)
Processor
Apple A7 1.3 GHz , + M7 Motion Coprozessor
Graphics adapter
Memory
1024 MB 
Display
7.9 inch 4:3, 2048x1536 pixel, Retina Display, IPS, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 14.7 GB free
Connections
Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Sensors: 3-axis gyro sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Lightining Connector
Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA/​HSPA+/DC‑HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz), LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.5 x 200 x 134.7 ( = 0.3 x 7.87 x 5.3 in)
Battery
24 Wh Lithium-Polymer, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 10 h
Operating System
Apple iOS 8
Camera
Webcam: 5 Megapixels iSight camera, Auto-focus, Facial recognition, illumination from behind, Lens with 5 elements, Hybrid IR filter, ƒ/2.4 aperture. Front: 1.2 Megapixels, 720p HD Video, Facial recognition, Illumination from behind.
Additional features
Speakers: Speakers at the side, Frequency range: 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz., Keyboard: virtual keyboard, Siri, Photo Booth, Maps, Garage Band, iMovie, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
331 g ( = 11.68 oz / 0.73 pounds), Power Supply: 87 g ( = 3.07 oz / 0.19 pounds)
Price
400 Euro

 

Apple's iPad Mini 3 is a facelift with minor changes.
Apple's iPad Mini 3 is a facelift with minor changes.
The panel is not as bright as the predecessor but is otherwise identical.
The panel is not as bright as the predecessor but is otherwise identical.
Biggest change: The Touch ID sensor.
Biggest change: The Touch ID sensor.
However, Apple wants a big additional charge over the iPad Mini Retina.
However, Apple wants a big additional charge over the iPad Mini Retina.
New as well: The color gold.
New as well: The color gold.
That covers all the changes: The speakers are still at the bottom but sound nice.
That covers all the changes: The speakers are still at the bottom but sound nice.
Nothing changed at the front camera, but it is decent as well.
Nothing changed at the front camera, but it is decent as well.
The main camera at the back didn't change, either.
The main camera at the back didn't change, either.
The cover of the WWAN model continues at the back.
The cover of the WWAN model continues at the back.
Still at the side is the handy mute toggle.
Still at the side is the handy mute toggle.
The display is razor sharp.
The display is razor sharp.
E-papers are convenient to read.
E-papers are convenient to read.
You can see all the details of the Notebookcheck website without zooming.
You can see all the details of the Notebookcheck website without zooming.
Despite the high resolution, the iPad Mini 3 has no problems with complex games like Asphalt 8.
Despite the high resolution, the iPad Mini 3 has no problems with complex games like Asphalt 8.
The games are always smooth.
The games are always smooth.
The good sensors contribute to the good gaming experience.
The good sensors contribute to the good gaming experience.
This also applies for casual games like Angry Birds.
This also applies for casual games like Angry Birds.
iOS is preloaded this time and introduces some changes.
iOS is preloaded this time and introduces some changes.
Apple's Office suite is free.
Apple's Office suite is free.
The GPS sensor is very accurate and enables precise navigation.
The GPS sensor is very accurate and enables precise navigation.
The keyboard is pretty simple but also very functional.
The keyboard is pretty simple but also very functional.

Similar Devices

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Asus Fonepad 8 FE380CG Tablet Review
PowerVR G6430, Atom Z3560

Devices with the same GPU

Dell Venue 8 7000 Tablet Review
PowerVR G6430, Atom Z3580, 8.4", 0.308 kg
Asus Memo Pad 7 (ME572CL) Tablet Review Update
PowerVR G6430, Atom Z3560, 7", 0.279 kg
Asus Fonepad 7 FE375CG Tablet Review
PowerVR G6430, Atom Z3560, 7.0", 0.299 kg

Links

Compare Prices

Pro

+High-resolution display
+Excellent build quality
+Good camera under daylight
+Precise touchscreen
+Free office suite
+Very good GPS
+Fast processor
+Fast graphics unit
+Low temperature development
+Decent speakers
 

Cons

-Hardly any new features
-Sometimes very small controls
-Depending on the configuration very high price
-No 802.11ac WLAN
-WLAN connection sometimes with signal issues
-Proprietary connector
-Only LTE Cat. 3

Shortcut

What we like

Apple once again delivers a premium tablet, but it also has a premium price tag.

What we'd like to see

The new version does not introduce any real innovations; it is more of a very small facelift.

What surprises us

That Apple actually offers useful applications or such a high-resolution and pretty small display.

The competition

Apple iPad Mini Retina, Google Nexus 7, Asus VivoTab Note 8, Nvidia Shield Tablet P1761W, HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg, Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0, Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7.

Rating

Apple iPad Mini 3 - 11/03/2014 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
91%
Keyboard
65 / 80 → 81%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
37 / 66 → 56%
Weight
86 / 88 → 96%
Battery
92%
Display
86%
Games Performance
62 / 68 → 91%
Application Performance
49 / 76 → 64%
Temperature
89%
Noise
100%
Audio
70 / 91 → 77%
Camera
68 / 85 → 80%
Average
76%
88%
Tablet - Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Apple iPad Mini 3 Tablet Review
Florian Wimmer, 2014-11- 6 (Update: 2014-11- 6)