iPod touch has leapt from the distant past—okay, 2012—into the present with a new Apple A8 chipset, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, an 8 megapixel camera, a 128GB option, and a full palette of new colors. It's still 4-inches, though, and still doesn't have LTE. That's where the 7.9-inch, Touch ID and Apple Pay-equipped, LTE optional iPad mini 3 excels. But it's more expensive and doesn't have an A8 or 8mp. But the iPad mini is cheaper, though without the Touch ID or Apple Pay.
It's not about which one is best, but which one is best for you? Here's what you need to know to help you decide!
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The iPod touch starts at $199 and has the full range of storage options from 16GB to 128GB. The iPad mini 2 starts at $299 and doesn't include 64GB or 128GB options, and the iPad mini 3 starts at $399 and doesn't include a 32GB option.
The extra $100 dollars on the iPad mini 2 gets you a bigger screen and stereo speakers, but steps you down in processor, camera, and Wi-Fi speed. The extra $200 on the iPad mini 3 gets you a bigger screen, stereo speakers, and Touch ID, but steps you down in processor, camera, and Wi-Fi speed.
With the iPads mini, you do get optional cellular networking for an additional $130 (see blow). The iPad mini 2 only comes in space gray, and the iPad mini 3 only in space gray, silver, and gold.
We'll break down all of that, below.
Display and size
The iPod touch has always been something akin to an iPhone without the phone. While iPhone displays have reached 4.7- and 5.5-inches, however, the iPod touch has stayed at 4-inches. That likely helps keep down the price and keep up the display size differentiation with the iPad.
The iPad touch mini is small compared to the full-sized iPad, but big compared to the iPod touch. 7.9-inches big.
Both displays have LED-backlit LCD panels with inter-plane switching for improved viewing angles. Neither are laminated like the iPhones or iPad Air 2, but both have fingerprint resistant oleophobic coatings. They're also both 326 ppi, but because of the difference in size, there's a corresponding difference in resolution.
The bigger screen on the iPad mini can make for a more immersive experience and a more accessible one. It allows for more sophisticated apps and, come iOS 9, Slide Over and PiP video.
As a total package, the iPod touch is 4.86 inches heigh, 2.31 inches wide, 0.24 inches deep, and only 0.19 pounds (3.10 ounces!). Both iPads mini, meanwhile, are 7.87 inches heigh, 5.3 inches wide, 0.29 inches deep, and 0.73 pounds (0.75 for the cellular version.)
They're both good if not great displays, but when combined with the size, the iPod touch is more portable and pocketable, and the iPad mini, more productive and immersive.
Last year the iPad mini 3 gained an extra color: gold. The iPad mini 2, demoted to second tier status, lost a color: it's not space gray only.
Back in 2012 the iPod touch gained a fuller, almost "nanochromatic" range of colors. This year Apple's standardized the palette, but still kept it more expansive. There's space gray, gold, silver, pink, blue, and—exclusive to Apple—product red.
If Space Gray is what you want, they all have that to offer. If you have your eye on silver and gold, iPod touch and iPad mini 3 are both options. If you want pink, blue, or red, however, there's only the iPod touch. (Or a colored case, of course!)
Processors + Touch ID
For years the iPod touch languished with a 32-bit Apple A5 processor from the past. Now it's vaulted into the present with a 64-bit Apple A8. That's the same processor found in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPad Air 2.
Note I didn't mention the iPad mini 3. That's because the latest—for now—iPad mini 3 is doing some languishing of its own: It kept the same 64-bit Apple A7 processor as the previous year's iPad mini 2. (And the iPhone 5s and original iPad Air, for reference's sake.)
Likewise, the iPod touch now has an Apple M8 motion coprocessor, while the iPads mini have the Apple M7.
Because all of them are 64-bit, all of them can use Metal, Apple's new graphics framework for makes everything faster and more efficient. The iPod touch definitely has the edge when it comes to silicon, none of them are slouches.
Conversely, only the iPad mini 3 has Touch ID, Apple's fingerprint identity sensor. It used the secure enclave on the Apple A7 chip to let you unlock your device, authorize iTunes and App Store purchases, and use Apple Pay in apps. (But not in stores.)
So, the iPod touch wins on pure power and the iPad mini 3 on convenience.
For the last three years the iPod touch has been stuck with a 5 megapixel camera. Now it has an 8 megapixel camera in line with the iPad Air 2. It's not the phenomenal package the iPhones 6 enjoy, but it's much, much better than it had before.
The iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 2 share the same ƒ/2.4 apertures, hybrid IR filters, five element lenses, and backside illumination. They've kept the old 5 megapixel resolutions, however. While that'll get the job done, it won't get it done anywhere nearly as well. At least when it comes to still photography.
For video work, all of them shoot similar 1080p, but only the iPod touch can do slo-mo.
Beyond the sensor, the iPod touch's size makes it much closer to a point-and-shoot camera in terms of portability and handling. The iPads mini do provide a bigger viewfinder, if you need one for video work
Wi-Fi and cellular
The iPod touch is Wi-Fi only. That Wi-Fi goes up to 802.11ac. Both iPods mini, though, top out at 802.11n. In their corner, however, is the option for cellular networking.
For an additional $130 you can equip either the iPad mini 2 or the iPad mini 3 with LTE and that'll let you get online anywhere you have a single.
Who should get an iPod touch
If you value portability and want something that'll fit in your pocket, if powerful hand-held gaming is your thing, if you want a better camera and the fastest possible Wi-Fi, and if you want in on iOS at the lowest possible price, you want the iPod touch.
Who should get the iPad mini 2
If you want a bigger screen and access to iPad apps, and if you want the option for LTE networking, but don't need Touch ID and Apple Pay enough to add an extra hundred dollars to your bill, you want the iPad Mini 2.
Who should get the iPod mini 3
If you want a bigger screen and access to iPad app, and if you want the option for LTE networking, plus you want Touch ID and Apple Pay, then you
Still have questions?
Still not sure whether you get an iPod touch or iPad mini? Check out our hub pages below for reviews, buyers guides, discussion threads, and more!
- iPod touch
- iPad mini 2
- iPad mini 3
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.