Should You Buy or Upgrade to an iPad Mini 2?

Getty Images / Tara Moore

The iPad Mini 2 has firmly taken over the entry-level iPad spot in Apple's lineup.  At a retail price of $269, it is definitely the cheapest iPad, a full $130 cheaper than the iPad Mini 4 and the iPad Air 2, which sell for $399.  But are you going to be shortchanged if you go with the iPad Mini 2?  

The Mini 2 is a quite capable tablet.  It is essentially an iPad Air with a smaller form factor.  The 64-bit A7 processor is clocked slightly slower than the one found in the Air, but the difference is so marginal it would take specialized software to even tell the difference.  So why would Apple clock it slower by such a small degree?  The smaller iPad Mini has less room for the battery, so Apple generally clocks the smaller devices slower to ensure you get the same 10 hours of battery life.   

However, the iPad Mini 2 being a smaller iPad Air is both a good and a bad thing.  The iPad Air is no longer being manufactured or sold by Apple, with the iPad Air 2 being the cheapest "full-sized" iPad and the iPad Pro appearing to be the future of the iPad.  Apple is also focused on adding enterprise-level features to the iPad lineup, such as the ability to open two apps on the screen at the same time.  

The iPad Mini 2 supports a limited version of this multitasking in the form of Slide-Over multitasking, which allows certain apps to open in a column on the right side of the iPad.  Starting with the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 4, the iPad supports split-screen multitasking, which allows apps to run side-by-side.  

But do you really need to multitask on the iPad Mini 2?  We aren't talking about the 12.9-inch iPad Pro where the screen is so large that it practically begs you to open a second app.  The iPad Mini 2's screen is quite comfortable when using a single app, but it would definitely get cramped with an app running in each half of the screen.   

The iPad Mini 2 also represents a great value if you purchase a refurbished model, which are running $229 on Apple's website.  Refurbished models are those returned to Apple with a repair issue.  Apple repairs them and sells them refurbished.  The good news is you get the same 1-year warranty as buying a new one.  

Is the iPad Mini 2 a Good Choice for a First iPad?

It's hard to ignore the value of the iPad Mini 2.  The only other "Mini" iPad being sold by Apple is the iPad Mini 4, which doesn't have the same value.  At the same price as an iPad Air 2 and not quite as fast, the only reason to get a Mini 4 is if you really love the form factor of the smaller iPads.  But the Mini 2 is different.  The Mini 2 is $139 cheaper.  

The iPad Pro line of tablets are clearly the top-of-the-line, with the 9.7-inch version having all the newest technology added to it.  But it's also $599 for the entry-level model.  That's almost twice the price of the iPad Mini 2.

If you aren't quite ready to shell out $600 for an iPad Pro, the iPad Mini 2 is an excellent choice.  You'll have access to almost everything the iPad Air 2 can do except split-screen and picture-in-a-picture multitasking.  It also doesn't support the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and while you won't be waving it at a register to make a purchase, Touch ID does have some uses besides payment.  But with the amount of money you'll save, you can load the iPad Mini 2 up with the best apps, accessories, and games.  

Should You Upgrade to the iPad Mini 2?

The iPad Mini 2 is a solid purchase, but is it a good upgrade?   If you already own an iPad 4, the Mini 2 won't add enough to your experience to really make it worth it.  The Mini 2 doesn't support Touch ID and only supports a limited form of the new multitasking features, and while it is definitely faster than the iPad 4, this speed increase isn't enough to justify the price.  

If you own an iPad Mini, iPad 2 or iPad 3, the iPad Mini 2 is a very good upgrade.  The original Mini shares the same basic processor as the second and third generation iPads, so while they were produced just a year apart, there's a big jump in the technology behind the scenes. 

If you are still rocking the original iPad, you should definitely think about upgrading.  While the original iPad still has some uses, it no longer supports the latest versions of the operating system and is slowly becoming more of a paper weight than a tablet.  

Did You Know: You can still buy an iPad Air as a refurbished model for slightly more than the iPad Mini 2. The main difference between the two is the 9.7-inch screen on the Air compared to the 7.9-inch on the Mini 2.  Read about more differences between the models.