iPad mini sees a rare discount, to $306.99

Michael Santo's picture

Rakuten.com (formerly Buy.com) has a rare deal for consumers on Tuesday, an iPad mini that has seen its price discounted (though certainly not slashed).

The deal is for the 16GB WiFi only model of the iPad mini. The retailer is selling the devices -- really, from a third party vendor -- for $306.99, $35 off its normal retail price of $341.99. That price, though, is slightly higher than the price you would expect at Apple, which sells the WiFi only 16GB iPad mini for $329.

Rakuten does charge sales tax in some states.

Still, even compared to the lower Apple Store price, consumers would get over $20 off the iPad mini price, which -- and this is true -- is rare. A sale on any Apple iDevices is rare, except when a new model is (ahem) approaching. Many expect a new iPad mini to appear either later this month or next month, before the shopping season.

At the same time, Rakuten.com has a 10 percent off promotion for computer and electronics items. However, the promotion does not extend to this item (i.e., you can't stack this deal and the 10 percent off promo code -- we tried).

The iPad mini is Apple's answer to low-cost Android devices such as the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. Unlike those devices, the iPad mini has a 7.9-inch screen (both of those ship with 7-inch screens, although the Fire has larger 8.9-inch models, too), and when it introduced the mini in 2012 Apple made sure to spotlight the extra screen real estate that the 0.9-inches provided.

There are, of course, numerous 8-inch Android tablets (such as the recent Galaxy Tab 3 8.0) as well as the full-sized iPad-fighting 10-inch models.

Dimension wise, the iPad mini 7.87 inches (200 mm) tall, with a width of 5.3 inches (134.7 mm) and a thickness of 0.28 inch (7.2 mm). It weighs about 0.68 pound (308 g).

The device has an A5 dual core processor. Notably, it does not yet have a Retina display. Current iPads -- all sporting Retina displays -- carry X processors (e.g., the first Retina iPad, the iPad 3, shipped with an A5X processor). Thus, it can be seen that -- processor-wise -- the iPad mini is behind the iPad 3 in terms of performance. The A5 was previously used in the iPhone 4S. It is also used in the fifth-generation iPod touch.

In addition, it has a 5MP rear-facing camera and a 1.2MP front-facing webcam, for FaceTime conversations.

The wi-fi only version of the iPad mini supports 802.11a/b/g/n wi-fi (on both bands, meaning 802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz). It also supports Bluetooth 4.0.

It is unclear if this year's revision of the iPad mini will come with a Retina display or not. It's expected to at least have a faster processor, and perhaps an update to support the still-draft 802.11ac specification for WiFi, but recent rumors have pointed to supply issues as preventing a widespread rollout of a Retina iPad mini.