Earlier this evening, Apple unveiled its new iPad mini, which was no great surprise given the mass of rumours surrounding the device.
The tablet is a 7.9 inch affair, a couple of inches smaller than the 9.7 inch full-size iPad, and its smaller frame means you can hold the iPad mini in one hand (unless, we guess, you have very small hands).
As was widely rumoured, the mini’s display is nowhere near the stonking retina quality resolution of the full-fat iPad, and is instead 1024 x 768, as predicted by many folks – in order to help keep costs down (more on that later).
Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, commented: “iPad mini is every inch an iPad. With its gorgeous 7.9 inch display, iPad mini features the same number of pixels as the original iPad and iPad 2, so you can run more than 275,000 apps designed specifically for iPad.”
The iPad mini has twin cameras, a 5 megapixel main snapper, capable of 1080p recording (and boasting image stabilisation), along with a front-facing FaceTime HD camera.
The tablet is slim at 7.2mm thick, and is powered by a dual-core A5 chip.
Apple notes that compared to a standard 7 inch tablet, the near-8 inch iPad mini boasts 35 per cent more screen real estate (it also has a particularly thin bezel). However, the larger screen doesn’t nearly have the resolution to match the likes of the Kindle Fire HD, or indeed the Nexus 7 which is 1280 x 800 – so will this be something of a case of quantity over quality when it comes to the display?
That might not be something that bothers the average consumer, though.
The iPad mini boasts the new lightning connector, as seen on the iPhone 5, and it comes in Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and cellular models, with the latter supporting LTE (presumably EE’s 4G, as with the iPhone 5).
And the all-important price? The iPad mini starts at £269 for the basic 16GB Wi-Fi model, rising to £349 and £429 for 32GB and 64GB respectively. The cellular model starts at £369, and rises in line to £449, with the top end 64GB cellular iPad mini priced at £529.
The iPad mini will be on sale come November 2nd, and pre-orders start this Friday – coincidentally (ahem) Microsoft’s big Windows 8 launch day.
The base price of £269 is a little higher than we expected – we were thinking between the £200 and £250 mark ourselves. Remember that this is supposed to be competing with the Nexus and Kindle 7 inch tablets pitched at a lowly £159 – so it’s £110 more, with is quite a hefty premium.
That said, it’s likely Apple had to keep the price at a relatively “high” level to ensure that it didn’t cannibalise its own full-size iPad sales. If the mini had been too cheap, the danger would have been that a majority of folks might have started plumping for that instead, and Apple would have been shooting itself in the foot.
Plus Apple has a reputation of never doing anything “budget” to keep up, of course.
Speaking of the full-size iPad, the other move Apple has made to ensure it still stays attractive is to push out a new, fourth generation iPad. This has a new A6X chip which Apple claims delivers twice the CPU and graphics performance of the previous A5X model, with no loss in battery life.
There’s also now a FaceTime HD camera on board, improved Wi-Fi, and LTE support – along with that new Lightning connector, of course.
The new fourth-gen iPad starts from £399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, rising to £659 for the top-end Wi-Fi and cellular 64GB flavour.
However, there will be some unhappy folks out there who bought a new iPad 3 back in the spring, only to find out six months later that their tablet is – well, not out of date – but certainly not cutting edge either.