The definitive iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review roundup

gold ipad back The definitive iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 review roundup

Here’s a roundup of the best iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 reviews from around the internet. Enjoy!


The iPad Air 2 pushes forward in all the ways you’d expect Apple’s tablet to. The blend of screen, build and app quality make it the best full-size tablet you can buy.

But it doesn’t move ahead in one area where some of us have been waiting (desperately) for evolution: true multi-tasking, going beyond the one-app-at-a-time functionality. Perhaps that’s the big surprise that Apple will bring when it introduces a 12.9-inch iPad next year.

It would be nice to see the iPad get beyond the lean-back experience that’s been the focus since Steve Jobs first sat down on the couch.


Every single one of Apple’s other devices pulls you into a bubble — from the on-my-body Apple Watch to the always-with-me iPhone to the my-life-is-on-here MacBook. I don’t want to hand any of those things to anyone else; they’re mine. But every time I hold an iPad, I’m eager to show it to someone, to pass it off, to share the experience with the people around me. Tablets are social in a way that no other device except the television is social, but there’s nothing about the iPad or iOS 8 that recognizes this essential fact. It’s time for Apple to start pushing the iPad forward again; not just in hardware but in all the places it should fit into our lives.

There’s no question that the iPad Air 2 is the best iPad ever made. It’s also the best tablet ever made — its incredible hardware and enormous ecosystem of apps offer a commanding advantage over the competition. But it’s not Apple’s best product; it’s not the company’s most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price.


So it’s not so much that I’m disappointed in the iPad mini 3, it’s more that I’m disappointed with the state of the small tablet in general — there’s simply no top-tier device if you want the smaller size. This iPad mini might be the best option, but “best option” for 7-inch tablets turns out to be faint praise.

The iPad mini 3 is still great, even if it’s not a great deal.The iPad mini 2, on the other hand, is both — it’s nearly exactly the same device minus a huge chunk of the price tag. Really, right now is a stupendously good time to buy an iPad mini 2.


I’ve had the privilege of using the iPad Air 2 for a little less than a week now and, despite the “sky is falling on the tablet market” themes we hear, I wanted to put the iPad Air upgrades into perspective. There are two ways to look at the iPad Air — a consumer angle which I will touch on in a later post and a less talked about enterprise angle to explore.
What most miss about the new iPad’s upside is the opportunity to extend computing to areas where it was not prevalent before. The PC, in the shape of a desktop and notebook, is an efficient design and has evolved to be specific to its purpose. Those two form factors are the best computers for deep work done sitting down. The PC in the shape of a tablet is not specifically designed to replace the desktop or notebook for those who sit down all day to work. There is, however, something the iPad is designed to replace that mobile field workers use frequently–the clipboard.


The Air 2 is noticeably faster than the iPhones 6 in single-core performance, but it’s simply in an altogether different ballpark in multi-core. I couldn’t get an answer from anyone at Apple regarding whether Geekbench is correct that it’s a three-core CPU,1 but the multi-core results certainly bear that out.

It is remarkable not only that the new iPad Air 2 is faster than the iPhones 6, but also that it’s faster than a three-year-old MacBook Air, and within shooting distance of a two-year-old MacBook Air. It’s more than half as fast as today’s top-of-the-line 13-inch MacBook Pro, especially in multi-core. (Let’s not get carried away regarding this apparent third core. Single-core performance is a better measure for most of the things typical consumers do on an iPad. But still.)


Apple’s iPad is a category that in some ways is trying to define itself, now that it’s moving into its relative young adulthood. Larger phones mean that it will mean different things for users than it did when it was introduced four years ago. The iPad Air 2 is the best reflection of what a tablet likely means to users currently, though – it’s a big-screened slate with a gorgeous display, an exhaustive software library and powerful processing capabilities that you’d be comfortable holding all day, should you have to.

To build the iPad Air 2, Apple had to speed up and improve its usual hardware update process, and the intense focus and commitment requires shows in the final results. There’s no question that if you’re in the market for a tablet, this is the best one available today.


Apple’s new iPad mini 3 is the same iPad mini with Retina it introduced last year – with the welcome addition of Touch ID. The changed product lineup it also now offers, which include last year’s iPad mini 2 starting at $299, and the original iPad mini at $249, mean that for most users those will be a better all around value, even figuring in the reduced price you’ll pay for 64GB and 128GB storage options on the new iPad mini 3. If you want the latest and the greatest, however, and all the options that Touch ID does and will eventually bring, and you’re okay with spending a bit more for the privilege, the iPad mini 3 is still the best small slate available, even without significant engineering investment from Apple this year – but you have to really value the ‘small’ aspect of that to make it worth it. The iPad Air 2 is the best all around tablet, however, and a much better choice for those looking to be at the technological forefront of this market.


In the wake of dire sales, the Air 2 is exactly what Apple needed to keep the lineup fresh. It may not be a brand-new design, per se, but its thin frame helps keep the marquee tablet looking sleek and exciting, and the extra burst of performance ensures that it stays among the most powerful tablets on the market for the next year. It could use a little help with battery life compared to the Air, but it’s still an improvement over the iPad fourth-gen and older. Most importantly, the Air 2 feels like Apple hasn’t given up on the tablet form factor, even if it’s experiencing a dip in sales.

That said, I’m not sure where the mini 3 fits into Apple’s strategy. Since the only hardware improvement to the new slate is Touch ID, the mini lineup is no longer on par with the Airs; it’s now a second-class tablet citizen. I love Touch ID, and I favor the screen size of the mini, but it’s not worth paying an extra $100 for Apple’s fingerprint sensor unless you use a ton of passwords or want to make a lot of online Apple Pay purchases. It’s still a great performer, but I can’t help but wonder if the mini lineup can remain relevant at its price point — especially now that 5.5-inch iPhones are even more portable and still offer a large screen.


So I don’t recommend that average iPad Air owners upgrade to the Air 2. But what about the vast majority of iPad owners who own older models? That’s a different story.

If you have an iPad 2, 3 or 4, the new Air 2 will make a big difference. Its thinness and lightness will be a dramatic change, and it will be faster and more fluid.

However, here’s the catch: Upgrading to last year’s iPad Air would have pretty much the same effect, and that model is now, suddenly, $100 cheaper, starting at $399.

Why iOS updates look small in size but require more than 10x storage capacity

ios 8 features Why iOS updates look small in size but require more than 10x storage capacity

A few weeks back Reddit user “kapits” asked a fairly interesting question regarding iOS 8 updates and the storage required to install them.

Why iOS update is 75MB but requires 1.5GB to install?

The answer came from Reddit user, “StarManta”, who gave a pretty good explanation:

Because that 75 MB contains 3kb of changes to make to this 1MB file, and 2kb of changes to make to this 2MB file, etc etc. When it installs, it has to load the original file, duplicate it, apply the changes, and then return the file to its original place and delete the original.

So why don’t they just do this one file at a time, instead of doing them all at once? I am guessing this has to do with safety. If you do it one file at a time and the process gets interrupted, you can end up with a half-applied update and completely bricked phone. On the other hand, if you store all the modified files until the last second, there is a much smaller chance of the process being interrupted at a crucial point, and he phone can more easily fall back to its previous functional state.

So there you have it. Apple heavily compresses installation files to dramatically reduce the chances of your phone being bricked in the event something goes wrong. Is it a pain? Sure. Especially if you have to delete a bunch of stuff. But would you rather have a bricked phone? Probably not.

Hopefully Apple can find a middle ground in the future that prevents their devices from being bricked but doesn’t require so much storage to install. 16GB owners aren’t too happy right now.