Apple announced its iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2 today. Which don’t sound like confusing names unless you look at the history of the product lines:
Large: iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3, The New iPad, iPad Air, iPad Air 2
Small: iPad Mini, originally Retina iPad Mini but now retroactively iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3
I’m really hoping that next year they just say “screw it” and change naming schemes again, to completely mess with us. Like, I think that the 2015 large iPad should be named the iPad Void 3 Ultra S or something.
Inability to simply increment a version number aside (I’m sorry, apparently not quite aside yet: the iPhone has very happily marched up to the iPhone 6 — it’s not like they’re as a corporation sad about version numbers. Why the crazy dance with iPads? Okay), these look like quiet, evolutionary upgrades.
In the case of the mini, perhaps a little too quiet and evolutionary. Your choices this year are the $399 iPad Mini 3 or last year’s $299 iPad Mini 2 (formerly Retina iPad Mini). But the mini 3 has the same processor, screen, camera, wi-fi, and so forth as the 2. The only things it really adds are touch ID and Apple Pay. I could maybe see Apple Pay being worthwhile if you have an LTE iPad Mini and use it as a phone replacement, but otherwise why the hell do you want to pay for things with your tablet? And anyone who thinks that touch ID is worth $100 is, well, the kind of person who should pay $100 for touch ID.
Which is all basically fine. Say that the iPad Mini 2 came down $100 in price and low-information buyers get taxed for not very much. Fair enough.
Apple is also still selling the Mini 1 for $250, which is absurd. My Nexus 7 2012 edition came out six months before the Mini 1, compares favorably to it in terms of hardware, and cost, new, $50 less than Apple wants to charge you for a now two-year-old tablet.
The Air is, like, a little smaller but who cares it’s 10″. I’m sure it’s a nice 10″ tablet, but you don’t want one of those.
Upshot: If you’re in the market for an Apple tablet, the iPad Mini 2 (née Retina iPad Mini) is the one to buy.