Editors' note (March 21, 2017): Apple has discontinued the iPad Mini 2. Its successor, the $399 iPad Mini 4, remains available: Apple's thinnest and lightest iPad now comes equipped with 128GB of storage capacity plus a terrific display, solid performance, and a resilient battery. The company has also discontinued the iPad Air 2, replacing it with the very similar 9.7-inch "iPad." Starting at $329 and featuring the A9 processor, the new model is slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2 and lacks its antireflective coating, but is otherwise identical.
The iPad Mini 2 review, published in July 2016, follows.
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 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.
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.