Apple iPad Mini 2 review:

The simplest, most affordable iPad

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars 24 user reviews

The Good The iPad Mini 2 has a sharp Retina screen, an ultraportable design, great battery life and it's the most affordable tablet with access to the iOS App Store. Upgradeable to iOS 10 later this year.

The Bad Android and Amazon tablets -- and even Windows laptops -- are available for less. Base model includes only 16GB of non-expandable storage. It's missing the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and split-screen feature found on newer iPads.

The Bottom Line It lacks the features and speed of a cutting-edge iPad, but the Mini 2 is still a solid tablet for basics, especially if you can buy it at a discount.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 9.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

Editors' note: On September 7, 2016, Apple gave a storage boost to its lineup of iPads, increasing the base capacity of the iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4 and iPad Mini 2 from 16GB to 32GB. At the same time, the company discontinued the 16GB, 64GB and 128GB editions of the iPad Mini 2. It also knocked the price down to $269 for the version without cellular connectivity and $399 for the version with it.

Apple iPads are synonymous with "tablet" for good reason. Their high-end designs, fast performance, simple operating system and well-stocked App Store make them the go-to choice in the category.

Or, at least, that's how it was. The growth of tablet sales has slowed considerably in recent years, with the exception of the bargain segment. Small 8-inch Android models like the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 and Samsung Galaxy Tab A can be had for as little as $170, £129 or AU$279, and Amazon has cornered the budget market with its selection of "good enough" Fire tablets that start at prices as low as $50 or £50. (Amazon doesn't typically sell hardware in Australia, but the US price converts to about AU$70.)

Apple, of course, is all about premium, high-end products. But the company's answer to bargain shoppers is to keep some of its older products in the line at discounted prices: 2014's iPad Air 2 and 2013's iPad Mini 2. The latter model remains the oldest one in the current line -- but, with prices starting at $269, £219 and AU$369, also the most affordable.

Despite its age, the iPad Mini 2 still has a lot to offer for buyers who don't need the latest and greatest model.

Here's what you need to know.

The Mini 2 is the most affordable iPad model available.

Josh Miller/CNET

The Mini 2 is slower and has fewer bells and whistles than the Mini 4.

If you're going to get an iPad, why not the latest and greatest? The iPad Mini 4 outshines the Mini 2 with a thinner and lighter design, faster processor, better cameras, and a more vivid screen (resolutions are the same, however). And though the iPad Mini 2 supports picture-in-picture, it doesn't have the newer features that make the iPad Mini 4 a premium tablet -- the TouchID fingerprint sensor and split-screen function (currently limited to the 9.7-inch Air 2, the Mini 4, and iPad Pro).

But Mini 4 is a bad deal compared to the iPad Air 2.

All those shiny features come at a price. The iPad Mini 4 starts at $399, £319, AU$569 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $499, £399, AU$699 for the 64GB version, and $599, £479, AU$829, for 128GB. But the larger iPad Air 2 -- which is quite a bit faster -- costs exactly the same, making it a far better deal.

It's a little thicker than the newer iPad Mini 4.

Josh Miller/CNET

For basic needs, the iPad Mini 2 does a great job.

Whether it's web surfing, email, Facebook or casual games, the Mini 2 still has more than enough power to get the job done. And the app selection on the iPad still outpaces what you'll find on Android and Amazon tablets. The Mini 2 also doubles as a great "universal remote" for smart home products and streaming devices -- something that can be left on the coffee table or in the kitchen for the whole family to share, which you wouldn't want to do with your phone.

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