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Review roundup: iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 deemed best in class, but changes mostly iterative [u]

The reviews are in for this year's iPad product refreshes and the results are expectedly positive for the new iPad Air 2, though some question whether Apple did enough to warrant the iPad mini 3's price tag.


Walt Mossberg, self-professed iPad lover, says the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are the best tablets Apple has ever made, but notes they only offer a "modest evolutionary improvement over last year's models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year."

He goes on to say that the iPad Air 2 has a less reflective screen, good battery life, faster wireless and a new multi-carrier "Apple SIM" card, but the changes do not amount to a colorable increase in performance compared to the original iPad Air. For those with iPad older than last year's iPad Air, the Air 2 may be worth a look.

The Wall Street Journal

Much the same was said in Joanna Stern's review, which noted the Air 2 is a good upgrade for those who skipped on the first-generation model. Stern touts Touch ID, the slim 6.1mm chassis and high-resolution screen, but bemoans the lack of multitasking, a feature offered from both Android and Windows slates.

As for the iPad mini 3, Stern suggests buyers go with the older generation iPad mini with Retina display, which will get a price cut once the new model arrives later this week. The only changes Apple made to the smaller tablet are the additions of Touch ID and a new gold color option, hardly worth the $150 premium over the older version.

The Verge

In his look at the iPad Air 2, Nilay Patel says one of the main draws is the new A8X chip, which he calls "ridiculously fast." The processor flies through everyday computations like Web browsing and has extra graphics headroom developers can use to create even better mobile games.

On the iPad mini 3, Dieter Bohn calls the difference between it and the iPad Air 2 "stark."

"It's tempting to just point you to last year's review of the iPad mini 2 and call it a day," Bohn writes. "And in fact you should read it: everything we said a year ago still applies. But times change even though the iPad mini's hardware hasn't — and the times have actually been surprisingly kind to this device."


Darrel Etherington calls the iPad Air 2 the best tablet available today, highlighting the screen and the iPad's abilities as a photography assistant. Through apps and a decent camera, the tablet is a good mobile workstation for on-the-go photography, though the anti-reflective coating is not noticeably effective. He also says the now absent orientation lock/mute switch will be missed.

Other notable reviews include:

Overall, it seems most reviewers are impressed with the iPad Air 2 upgrade, but view it more as the next step in Apple's tablet evolution than a revolution that brings a load of new trappings and performance improvements. Owners of the iPad Air may want to skip this generation unless they need the added oomph from Apple's A8X SoC.

The iPad mini 3, on the other hand, seems to be a very minor update on the previous model with distinguishing features limited to Touch ID and a gold chassis. With the iPad mini 2 getting a price cut, that may be the better choice for most users.

Update: This story is being updated with additional reviews as they come out.