Curious insofar in that I don't really know where it's supposed to fit into the tablet market, an arena arguably created by Apple itself.
It's not the top-end tablet that technology fans will lust after, given it's based almost entirely on last year's technology.
Nor is it the budget option, occupying the higher price point its predecessor held previously, starting at $399, £319, AU$499 for the basic 16GB Wi-Fi only option.
While I'm used to Apple bringing out incremental updates, this one is the oddest of them all: it's the iPad mini 2, but with added Touch ID.
Oh, and it comes in gold too, if that gets you excited (and to be fair, it does for a lot of people).
But otherwise, there's nothing that marks this new tablet out from the one that launched to such fanfare last year. OK, you might argue that the mini 2 (or mini with Retina as it was known) was such a good device that it didn't need updating. Not the greatest thing for Apple to do, but I can run with that.
Like I said, it's not like the company doesn't have a previous history of doing such a thing (the iPad 3 to 4 was pretty much that, an incremental update that was mostly designed to bring the Lightning connector to the tablet world, with added CPU grunt).
Except - EXCEPT - Apple is leaving the iPad Mini 2 on the market, with a price cut of US$100 (£80, AU$130).
Is a gold iPad with a fingerprint scanner really worth the extra money? That's a whole Christmas present or three for many people, so what's Apple up to here?
Let's step away from that argument for a while and check out the iPad mini 3 on its own merits, without worrying how it compares to competitors. What makes this a tablet worth your time?
Touch ID and Apple Pay
The Touch ID sensor is the biggest improvement on the new mini slate, and it's technology Apple is (rightly) proud of.
None of this swiping up and down business: this is the most perfect biometric sensor on the mobile market (although the Samsung Galaxy S6 has brought out a nifty option too) and has secured hundreds of thousands of iPhones that would have otherwise been left open to thieves.
The premise is so simple: set it up in a few seconds, and pressing the home button to turn on your tablet will unlock it securely. If for some reason the fingerprint doesn't work (it hates wet hands, for instance) you can simply tap in a passcode as before.
It works really well, and as you can set up multiple fingerprints, it doesn't matter which way up you hold the tablet - it can be opened simply however it's oriented.
And with iOS 8 the Touch ID APK has been opened up too, so developers can now add in the security to their apps. So if you're an Evernote user and want to keep that app from prying eyes, a fingerprint block can be put in place.
But the big reason Touch ID is here is Apple Pay, sadly still limited to the US at the moment. While you can use the system on a phone to pay contactlessly for items on the go, the Touch ID sensor on the iPad mini 3 limits you to online shopping.
It works really well though: in the test I had earlier this year, a simple tap of "Apple Pay" at the online checkout prompts a fingerprint scan and all your details are securely shown. Neither party sees your fingerprint, instead using a secure token generated by the iPad itself.
So in a tap you've paid and chosen your delivery address. It's all very smooth.
But the contactless tech isn't integrated into the iPad mini 3, so this capability is only relevant online. In theory it's great and simple, but until the number of retailers offering Apple Pay on their sites proliferates, it's mostly just a secure way of accessing your iPad - and that's not a big enough change to justify the price hike over the iPad mini 2.
There's not a lot to say here other than that the iPad mini 3 now comes in a golden sheen, but to many that will be a big reason to buy.
It's something it has over the mini 2, and does look sleek and sophisticated; more so than the champagne colour that was so clamored for with the iPhone 5S.
The iPad mini 2 did have a 128GB option, but that's now been retired, meaning the only way to get your gigabytes at the top end is to buy the most expensive version of the mini 3 - currently standing at US$729 (£579, AU$899).
I'd argue that 128GB is probably a bit more than most people will want, but I'd always recommend buying as much storage as you can afford.
The reason for this is to futureproof yourself: you don't want to buy a 16GB version and find that 12 months down the line you're forced to delete photos or home videos just to update your version of iOS.
Remember, I'm talking about the mini 3 in isolation here. Yes, this screen was seen on the iPad mini 2, but it was so much sharper than I was expecting last year that I don't begrudge it turning up again on the mini 3.
It's a 1,536 x 2,048 resolution, and at 7.9 inches it offers very crisp text and images. It's actually the same res as the iPad Air 2, but crunched down it's more crisp thanks to the pixels being closer together.
Old technology is a poor argument for buying a new tablet, but at the same time I was so impressed by the screen last year that I don't mind seeing it again.
That said, I wish it had the same zero gap construction as the iPad Air 2, with its lower reflectivity and improved colour reproduction. It's a great screen, but one that could have been slightly better with the advancements Apple has made in other iPad models.
According to comparisons carried out by DisplayMate, the iPad Mini 3 doesn't match its bigger brothers when it comes to colour accuracy. Apple has also denied the iPad Mini 3 the enhanced anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass that it used for the iPad Air 2.
As you would expect, all other aspects of the screen's performance are identical to the iPad Mini 2 as well: viewing angles, contrast and brightness to list a few.
Obviously, the Mini 3 is a different proposition than the iPad Air 2 so a difference in screen quality is understandable. My point is that it's a shame Apple didn't spend at least a little effort upgrading the Mini's screen from its predecessor.
The iPad mini 3 is exactly the same dimensions as the iPad Mini 2, at 200 x 134.7 x 7.5 mm and 331g.
The design isn't terrible by any means - the chassis is very similar to that seen on the first iPad mini two years ago, but that was such a pleasurable thing to hold that I don't mind seeing it again and again.
Unfortunately the gold version, which will be most buyers' color of choice, isn't the most attractive if you're going for the 4G version. The top features a cut-out section needed to let the radio signal through, but it's white. This jarring decision is out of keeping with the attention to detail expected from Apple.
Holding the iPad mini 3 isn't a bad sensation at all - it's a pleasing, well-packaged device indeed.
It lacks the balance of the iPad Air 2, despite being over 100g lighter, and feels a little chunkier in the hand thanks to the greater thickness.
But it fits nicely in a jacket pocket and at 331g, doesn't weigh it down too much either.
The power button, volume keys and silencer switch (the latter remaining although it's disappeared on the iPad Air 2) are all exactly where they were on the mini 2 - are you getting the feeling that there's a theme here?
There's a sense of a massively missed opportunity here from Apple. The iPad mini 2 was a triumph as it was simply a shrunken version of the iPad Air, with the same design language and power.
The mini 3 is just a rebadged mini 2. It could have been amazing. If this was slimmed down to the same extent as the Air 2, it would have been perfect for the pocket. The screen could have been sublime, the edges improved and overall look and feel a step up.
Given it costs the same as last year's model, I would have expected it to have the same upgrades and attention - as it stands I can't work out where Apple has spent the money to bring the new technology. Touch ID isn't enough to explain it.
Interface and performance
There's nothing wrong with the way the iPad mini 3 performs under the finger. It's mostly stable enough, with very little in the way of crashing. However, it's always worth checking back on these reviews as such gremlins can show their face after a few weeks' use.
However, the general interface is as simple as you'd expect. iOS 8.3 works as well here as it does on the iPhone range, but with added features to make it a little more stable and usable.
The main interface is a simple layout: grids of app icons as before. But swipe around and you'll see some features that really help it feel like a next generation product. For instance, on the lock screen you can swipe an email and archive or mark as read without even unlocking your tablet.
If you're playing a game and a message comes in, swipe down on the top notification and you'll be able to send a reply without having to exit the app and possibly lose vital points or places in a race.
Then there's the Control Center, which isn't perhaps new but does give an always-available place to set the volume, brightness, connect or disconnect to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, turn on the torch and set up the calculator.
It might not sound like much (and man alive, it can be hard to drag it up from the bottom of the screen sometimes) but it's good that it's so pervasive throughout the tablet.
The notifications bar has been given an overhaul too, with widgets in the Today section providing a really useful feature.
Whether it's offering your flight info from BA (if you've got the app installed), or enabling you to bid on ending items from eBay without leaving your app, it's a really novel way of doing things.
However, there aren't that many apps that can take advantage of this right now, which is a bit of a shame. Hopefully that will increase in the future.
The general interface is easy to use. It annoyingly doesn't have the home button double tap feature from the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (where hitting that button twice without pressing it will cause half the screen to drop down within easy reach of your digits). I say annoyingly because this would have been a really nice way to use the mini 3 one-handed.
I don't know why Apple doesn't just put the back button at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. It would solve all the problems.
The performance of the iPad mini 3 is fine, although not as responsive when it comes to the touchscreen as the iPad Air 2 as it doesn't pack the same new technology for improved finger accuracy.
It also scores ever so slightly lower in the benchmarking tests compared to the iPad mini 2. I'm talking single digit percentages (2,478 compared to 2,481 on the GeekBench 3 test) showing that, again, you're getting nothing here that you wouldn't on last year's model, save for being able to use the fingerprint scanner for security and payments.
Battery and camera
Battery life on the iPad Mini 3 is quoted at 10 hours for multimedia, which mostly refers to video watching or browsing the web.
It certainly doesn't refer to gaming, which hammers the battery life of the mini 3, although not as much as some other tablets. This is such a popular refrain for a mobile gaming experience that I've learned not to expect too much juice left after a particularly powerful game is pushed through the smaller screen.
That said, it's worth it. Despite the more muted colors (which you'll only notice if you've played with an iPad Air 2) the general gaming prowess of the mini 3 means I don't mind knowing it will leave me with minimal battery.
The general battery test, a looped Full HD video run for 90 minutes, showed a drain of 18%, which is, again, almost identical to that seen on the iPad mini 2. Have I mentioned these two models are pretty similar?
However, the general use drain for the mini 3 is excellent. Throw it in a bag for a few days and you can definitely still expect to have a lot of power left over by the end of the week. It's probably not what you're going to do with such a tablet, but if you do feel the need to leave it for a day or two the power won't get sucked down with background apps.
The quoted time of 10 hours seems a little over the top when it comes to web browsing, but with lower screen brightness could probably be achieved. I could have tested it by sitting under the covers playing with the mini 3 throughout a whole night with no cease, but I didn't.
I feel like I've let you down in some way. Sorry.
The upshot is this: the battery life of the iPad mini 3 is precisely as expected. Stream video at higher brightness (and the screen does get pretty bright) and you'll suck down 20% in around 90 minutes. Play a high power game like Real Racing 3 and it's not so bad - compared to the iPad Air 2, the mini 3 can hold its power during gaming a lot better, only losing a few percent every 10 minutes.
I really wish the more powerful A8X chip was running under the hood here, as the battery life would be stellar on a device like this.
The camera on the mini 3 is nothing to write home about, in the same way as it wasn't last year. The reason is the range of options isn't the same as it is on the iPhone range - no filters to apply here, no ability to take slow-motion video.
This is all the more galling as these are two features I'd actually want on a camera like this. The larger view finder is good for setting up a slow motion video, and the filters look nicer on a device like this.
But the output isn't terrible. The focus might not be too snappy, but colors are well-reproduced and the lower-light snaps come out better than expected.
You can set the exposure now with a slide of the finger up and down, so if you don't fancy locking the focus or exposure with a long press on one part of the screen there are plenty more options to improve the shot.
HDR mode is present and correct too, meaning you can improve the snaps further this way - but let's not forget that taking an iPad to a wedding is never acceptable.
Never. And if it ever becomes acceptable, I'm quitting this job to go and live on a tablet-less desert island.
What's the iPad mini 3 good at? The basics. And that now includes calling.
"WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? ARE YOU MAD?" I can hear you thinking. But it's true. If you own an iPhone running iOS 8, and an iPad mini 3 linked to the same iCloud account, you can easily make and receive calls from the tablet thanks to the new Handoff feature baked into Apple's new operating systems.
It's a really nice system actually - in that it's so simple. iPhone in bag and tablet on the desk with you? Get a call and it will show on all your iCloud connected devices, and you can answer using the iPad mini 3's inbuilt speaker and microphones.
You can even dial out through the contacts app - this is a really nice touch, although the contacts app is still woefully underpowered. Linking a contact to a social network is a nightmare - even the automatic linking seems to be confused.
Sometimes a tap will take you to the right Twitter account. Sometimes a linked Facebook account will appear, only to just open the app and nothing else.
Either way, there's no dialler, so you'd better hope that you've got the name in your contacts book. Or just stop being lazy and get your iPhone out.
Messaging and emails
The best thing about iMessage is that it's pervasive across your Apple devices. Receive an Apple-powered message from your phone, see it on your tablet. The same, sadly, isn't true for the humble text message, so it's a bit of a disjointed system, but good when you get up and running.
As iOS 8 now allows you to use other keyboards as well, it's the quality of the inbuilt one is less of an issue, but it's actually now got to the point where I'd use the default option over a third party choice. Apart from GIF keyboard, but mostly because that's funny.
The range of emojis with iOS 8.3 on board is also increased, with more variation and choice to play with.
The keys are accurate and expansive, and in landscape mode work really well. It's especially good for Mail, as you can rattle through a few emails on your lap without worry, and the unified inboxes are useful for power-mailing.
The only downside is that searching through archived messages on Gmail is a nightmare, but then again the official Gmail app isn't bad and easily available.
The last thing to talk about is Facetime, with the new and improved... wait, no, exactly the same camera as last year. This means a 1.2MP camera, but it's HD and does more than well enough when showing other people what you look like in a hotel room in another part of the world.
The quality is high and works well - even Facetime Audio is loud and clear and a good way to get past tricky roaming charges.
I'm going to get this out of the way now: the big issue here isn't that Apple is using old technology. It's that it's offering a very slightly upgraded tablet while keeping last year's model on sale right next to it on the shelves.
Apple is going to cannibalize its own sales - but then again, if the money is coming in somehow, what does it matter which version you go for? It just means it's impossible to recommend this iPad while the predecessor lives, but an improved range is a great thing.
Let's get a positive hat on now though - there are some good parts. The gold coloring is going to entice a lot of people into the iPad fold, as it's a sought-after color.
That said, I prefer space gray, but at least Apple is offering it.
The 128GB storage size is ample for iPads, if not a little expensive, but having it there is good for those who can afford it.
Touch ID is a good feature with a lot of promise. If Apple Pay goes big, this is a simple way to use it. If you're into security, then it's the best way to secure an iPad without needing to faff around with codes.
And if app developers really come up with clever ways to integrate the fingerprint reader, then the iPad mini 3 becomes a lot more attractive.
Look above and you'll see a lot of "ifs." The whole selling point of the iPad mini 3 is Touch ID, and I don't feel it really adds a lot right now. It's future-proofing at best.
If Apple Pay doesn't proliferate and you don't see any apps that use the fingerprint scanner, then you've just wasted a lot of money on a feature that merely saves you pecking out a code to open your tablet.
Everything good about this tablet - and that's diminishing, given it's last year's tech - is on the iPad mini 2, which is much cheaper and will likely do 99.3% of anything you want from the mini 3.
Unless you like gold, of course. If that's you, you've got no other choice.
The iPad mini 3 isn't a bad tablet. It's got a great OS, new features and is still attractively designed. It's just that all these features are available on the mini 2 for a lot less money.
Touch ID is a nice feature, but it's not enough to recommend this tablet. I can't see Apple Pay taking off in the next year to the point where you HAVE to have Touch ID in your life, and apps that really take advantage aren't here yet.
I just can't work out how Apple can justify launching this tablet at the price point. Last year, it was all the power of the Air in a smaller frame.
This year, it hasn't matched the Air 2 in tech spec, yet the price hasn't dropped. And you can get nearly all the good features cheaper on the iPad mini 2.
So while it might seem that the score here is harsh for what is a half-decent tablet with a good screen and access to a brilliant app store (albeit a tablet still based on last year's technology), it's the score it deserves because there's a better option to its left.
Buy the iPad mini 2, or wait a few months and see if Apple Pay and Touch ID-enabled apps start to roar in popularity. If not, there's no point in the iPad mini 3.