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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars 2 user reviews

The Good Though we're disappointed by the lack of upgrades, Apple's smaller iPad is still a great choice. Both the display and battery life are excellent, and the addition of Touch ID takes care of our biggest complaint from the previous version.

The Bad Other than a gold option and Touch ID, the iPad Mini 3 is identical to its predecessor. It lacks the processor and camera upgrade of its big brother, the Air 2, and it's still priced at the high end for midsize tablets.

The Bottom Line One of 2013's best, the iPad Mini 3 is still a compelling choice despite the lack of upgrades. However, the nearly identical and significantly cheaper iPad Mini 2 is a smarter buy.

8.3 Overall
  • Design 9.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0

Review update: Summer 2015

At its Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2015, Apple introduced the next edition of its mobile operating system, iOS 9 , which heralds some important changes to come for the iPad portfolio. Significantly, iOS 9 will bring to the iPad Air 2 split-screen multitasking, allowing users to view two apps on the same screen (other existing iPad models will not support this feature).

The Air 2, original Air, Mini 2 and Mini 3 will support the operating system's new picture-in-picture functionality. And yes, these are features that have been around for quite a while on competitors' tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy line and Microsoft's Surface .

Apple also announced that iOS 9 will support using a portion of the screen as a digital trackpad, which would ostensibly make it easier to edit and move items around on the iPad. (Note that some have predicted that ForceTouch, introduced on the latest Apple laptops, could also show up on the next iPad.)

For now, iOS 9 is available only to developers; the company will open the beta version to the public in July in advance of a general release later this fall. In the meantime, you can read more about how iOS 9 could transform the future of the iPad.

Meanwhile, anyone considering buying an iPad Mini 3 (or any other iPad models) should note that Apple will almost certainly initiate some combination of an iPad line update and a price drop on earlier models in October 2015. Whether that update includes an iPad Air 3, iPad Mini 4 and/or a rumored big-screen iPad Pro remains to be seen.

Editors' note: This review has been updated from the version that was originally published on October 21, 2014.

The iPad Mini 3

The iPad Mini 3 has the same 7.9-inch, 2,048x1,536-pixel display that made 2013's iPad Mini 2 such a huge upgrade over its lower-res predecessor. The display still looks great at all angles, with plenty of contrast, great color reproduction and all the IPS goodness you've come to expect.

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The new iPad Mini and the new iPad Air 2. CNET

It's powered by the same A7 processor as the Mini 2, running at 1.27GHz and paired with 1GB of RAM. That gives this slate plenty of performance for most situations; indeed, matching the original iPad Air for the most part. But, as the new iPad Air 2 gets bumped to a 1.94GHz A8X chip and steps up to 2GB of RAM, it's hard to not look on somewhat enviously.

Still, the Mini 3 is a competent performer. We spun up all of our favorite games, and everything is perfectly playable. Nothing skipped a beat or missed a frame. So it goes for Web surfing. Safari loads pages quickly and offers a perfectly responsive touch experience. Plus, the 473ms SunSpider score is nothing to sneeze at -- though that does make it about a third slower than the Air 2. That noted, it remains to be seen how well the Mini 3 will handle the upcoming iOS 9 update.

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