tablets

Apple iPad mini 3 Tablet Review

Boring update brings TouchID, not much else.

December 31, 2014

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Science Introduction

I feel like a broken record in saying that this iPad is virtually identical to the iPad mini 2, but here I am again: beating that same drum.

Despite seeing a lot of the same hardware under the hood, the new mini is worse in many ways, same in others, better in none. It's a little mystifying, but at the same time, not exactly cause for concern.

Screen Performance

Meet the new screen, marginally worse than the old screen. Though the mini 3 has the same 4:3 aspect, 2048x1536 7.9-inch LCD (324 PPI), it leaves a bit to be desired.

A peak brightness of 350.08 cd/m2 is fairly decent, but it's not enough to make up for the high black level of 0.39 cd/m2. Tablets with an LCD are typically really bad here, but that's a little on the disappointing side. Greyscale transition is handled well with a gamma of 2.18.

Reflections are also mitigated about as well as any other tablet does, as the mini 3 only sends 5.3% of light directly back at the user. In diffuse lighting, the screen fires about 10.4% of all light shone on the screen back into the aether.

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Battery Life

For most, battery life is a make-or-break performance point. And while the iPad mini 3 definitely isn't a bad option, its battery life suffers from the strain of iOS 8.

While it's unclear exactly why this is the case, the iPad mini 3 is very likely the best analog we have to see if a mini 2 performs with the same software. Though the latter shipped with iOS 7, a new operating system can throw new curveballs and give us different results with the same hardware.

To that end, it's not surprising that the battery life of the mini 3 is a bit worse than that of the mini 2. In our labs, it was only able to play back video for 6 hours, 10 minutes—and read an eBook for 6 hours, 16 minutes. If that sounds a bit lackluster to you, it is; but be aware that these results were achieved by cranking the backlight to the max and turning off all WiFi.

You might be able to squeeze out a few more minutes by turning down the backlight or reducing motion settings, but your results are likely to be worse than this if you keep WiFi on. As always, your results will vary from what we get in the lab, as our data is for comparison purposes.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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