iPad Mini 3: Is Touch ID Button Worth $100 More?

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Apple iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini 3At long last Apple has unveiled the iPad mini 3, and Apple aficionados may be looking to send their iPad mini 2 (formally known as the iPad mini with Retina Display) to the land of refurbished gadgets. But with the iPad 2 discounted to $299, what does moving up to the $399 iPad 3 get you? A new button — specifically, Apple's Touch ID button that reads your fingerprint, saving you the arduous task of typing in a four-character password. If you think that convenience is worth $100, the iPad Mini may be for you. If not, and you've been eying an iPad mini longingly, Apple has just gifted you a $100 discount.

The only other changes are more storage options — with 64 and 128GB varieties — and fewer color options. If you love goooold, you'll be disappointed to learn that Apple has eliminated that option from the iPad mini 2, leaving consumers with Silver and Space Gray. If you want the Midas touch, you'll have to spend the extra $100 bucks to get a mini 3.

MORE: Apple iPad Buying Guide: Which iPad is Right For You?

Quizzically, while the iPad mini 3 is available in 16, 64 and 128GB varieties, 32GB is noticeably absent. But if 32GB is your sweet spot, you can get it for $349 on the iPad mini 2 Wi-Fi version. That's $50 cheaper than the 16GB version ($399) of the mini 3 and $150 less than the $499 64GB edition of the device. It's almost as if Apple were trying its damnedest to dissuade consumers from making the leap from mini 2 to mini 3?

Just to be clear, this table shows how the two models compare (read carefully).



Apple iPad mini 2iPad mini 2

Apple iPad mini 3iPad mini 3
Price with Wi-Fi $299 (16GB), $349 (32GB) $399 (16GB), $499 (64GB), $599 (128GB)
Price with 4G LTE $429 (16GB), $479 (32GB) $529 (16GB), $629 (64GB), $729 (128GB)
Carrier AT&T / Verizon/Sprint/T-Mobile AT&T / Verizon/Sprint/T-Mobile
Availability Now Now 
Dimensions (in.) 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches
Weight 0.73 pounds (Wi-Fi), 0.75 pounds (4G LTE)

0.73 pounds (Wi-Fi), 0.75 pounds (4G LTE)

Display Size 9.7-inch 9.7-inch 
Display Resolution 2048 x 1536,
326 pixels per inch (ppi)
2048 x 1536, 
326 pixels per inch (ppi)

A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor

A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
Touch ID NO YES!
Storage 16GB / 32 GB  16GB / 32 GB / 64 GB / 128 GB
Colors Space Gray, Silver Silver, Gold, Space Gray
Front Camera 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera
Back Camera 5MP iSight,
shoots 1080p HD video 
5MP iSight,
shoots 1080p HD video 
Microphone Yes Yes
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n + MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n + MIMO
Mobile Broadband 4G LTE World-Ready 4G LTE World-Ready
Bluetooth Yes Yes
GPS Yes Yes

11:06 hours on Wi-Fi
Up to 9 hours on 4G LTE

Up to 10 hours (Wi-Fi)

Up to 9 hours (4G LTE)

Gyroscope 3-axis 3-axis
Accelerometer 3-axis 3-axis 

Aside from the addition of the Touch ID sensor on the iPad mini 3, the two tablets are essentially the same. The devices sport the same dimensions  (0.73 pounds, 7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches) and the same 2048 x 1536 Retina display.

However the new Touch ID sensor is compelling as iPad users will now have the ability to unlock their tablet with the touch of a finger. That's cool, but the best use of the sensor will be the Apple Pay system when it launches. Now iPad users will have the ability to make online purchases with the simple touch of a finger. When the feature launches on October 20th, it will have the backing of over 500 banks and a host of mainstream retailers including Sephora, BJ Wholesale Club, Macy's and Urban Outfitters. But this is for online purchases only; it doesn't, at least currently, work for in-store shopping.

Ultimately, unless you're chomping at the bit to use a biometric sensor to unlock your iPad mini and make online purchases, there's really no need to upgrade to the iPad mini 3 just yet. However, perhaps some scrappy developers will find a way to make Touch ID into a must-have feature in the near future.