iPhone 6 vs iPad mini 3 comparison review

The iPhone 6 comes in two versions, a regular iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch screen and the ultra-large iPhone 6 Plus, with a huge 5.5-inch screen. Meanwhile Apple has introduced a new iPad mini 3 model, with Touch ID and an 7.9-inch display.

The iPhone 6 and iPad mini 3 are closer in style, design and functionality than anybody likes to admit. The new iPhone 6 Plus leans heavily into tablet territory, and the iPad mini 3 with WiFi + Cellular packs largely identical technology to the iPhone. They even look the same.

But the iPhone 6 costs a lot more than the iPad mini 3. It seems like you pay a less cash for a lot more screen. How does that work? Before you rush out and buy an iPhone 6 Plus you should at least consider getting an iPad mini 3 instead. Our iPhone 6 vs iPad mini 3 review looks at the features, specifications and price of each device.

iPhone 6 vs iPad mini 3: price and availability

Price is a noticeable issue here. There is a big difference in price between the iPad mini 3, and its closest iPhone (in terms of price). The iPhone 6 starts at £519 for a 4.7-inch screen, and £619 for a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. The iPad mini 3 has a bigger display, at 7.9-inch but starts at just £319 (£419 for a model with WiFi and Cellular). So in terms of price versus screen estate, you pay more for less with the iPhone 6.

The iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad 3 mini are available directly from the Apple Store. Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are listed as being available in 7-10 business days, while the iPad mini 3 is dispatched the next day.

iPhone 6 vs iPad mini 3: key features and tech specs

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch retina display with 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi, while the iPhone 6 Plus features a 5.5-inch Retina display with 1920x1080-pixel resolution at 401 ppi. Both models feature Apple’s new A8 CPU with 64-bit architecture and M8 motion coprocessor and Apple’s Touch ID Home Button sensor. Crucially, the iPhone 6 and iPhone t6 Plus will support Apple Pay payment when it launches in the UK.

The iPad mini 3 comes with a larger 7.9-inch Retina Display with 2048-by-1536 resolution at 326 pixels per inch (ppi). The iPad mini 3 also features Apple’s Touch ID Home Button sensor which enables fingerprint unlocking. One crucial difference between the iPad mini 3 and iPhone 6 (and also the new iPad Air 2) is that the iPad mini 3 features Apple’s older A7 CPU and M7 motion processor. While the A7 is certainly no slouch, it’s a shame that Apple’s new iPad mini 3 has been left out of the A8 upgrade. It also means that the iPad 3 mini isn't substantially better than the iPad mini 2, which has the same specs but doesn't feature the Touch ID sensor.

iPhone 6 vs iPad mini 3: camera

The iPad mini 3

The iPhone 6 features an 8-megapixel iSight camera and a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera (recording your face at 1280x960). The iPhone 6 Plus also has this but features optical image stabilisation (which moves the image sensor for smoother video recording). The iPhone 6 Plus is an incredible tool for video recording and editing.

The iPad 3 mini features a smaller 5-megapixel iSight camera but also has the 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera.

The iPhone 6 is undoubtedly a better tool for taking photographs, and it feels more natural to take photographs with the iPhone 6, even the large iPhone 6 Plus, than with a tablet like the iPad mini. However, the iPad mini 3 is not a bad device for taking photographs.

iPhone 6 vs iPad mini 3: apps and usage

It’s worth remembering that the iPhone 6 runs iPhone apps, and the iPad 3 mini runs iPad apps. While most apps are cross-platform, there are notable exceptions. Microsoft’s new Office apps, for example, are more powerful on the iPad than on the iPhone. While the keyboard on the iPad is not comfortable for typing, it offers more breathing room than the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. So if you are expecting to spend time working on the device, the iPad mini 3’s larger 7.9-inch display offers a definite advantage over the iPhone.

For all that, though, the iPhone 6 - even the iPhone 6 Plus – remains a phone that you can put in a pocket (admittedly a big pocket for the iPhone 6 Plus). The iPad mini 3 is a tablet and you’ll need to carry it around in a bag.

The other thing about the iPhone is that it can make and receive phone calls and SMS texts. The iPad mini 3’s data connection does not enable it to make phone calls, or send SMS texts (although it can make FaceTime Audio calls and send iMessage texts, so you can communicate with other iOS-devices). Thanks to Apple’s new Continuity features the iPad mini 3 can sync up SMS texts and answer phone calls, but only when it is in the same location as your iPhone.

Weighed against all this is the matter of price. The iPhone 6 Plus starts at £619, while the iPad mini 3 with Wi-Fi and Cellular starts at £419, a hefty saving of £200. That’s enough to get a pretty good smartphone. You can even pick up a iPhone 5c for £319 and an iPad mini 3 (Wi-Fi only) for £319 - roughly in the same as just the iPhone 6 Plus. While you won’t have the latest Apple A8 CPU in either device, it’s probably the smarter choice.

OUR VERDICT

The iPhone 6 Plus is definitely the better device. The iPhone 6 features a faster processor and a much better camera than the iPad mini 3. The optical image stabilisation on the iPhone 6 Plus is a huge boon to anybody who is serious about digital video. There’s no getting away from the price though, and the iPad mini 3 with Retina Display offers a larger screen for a substantially lower price. But you could downgrade even further to the iPad mini 2 which is essentially the same device minus Touch ID. Apple has cannily kept the phone and SMS texting features away from the iPad, so you miss out on sending texts and making phone calls on the iPad unless you also own an iPhone, but it doesn’t have to be an iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 Plus is undoubtedly the sexier, and better, device, but getting an iPad mini 3 (or even an iPad mini 2) and an iPhone 5c is a more prudent move.