With the $329 iPad Mini, Apple is betting that slim design, a larger screen and a bigger app selection can lure people away from other small tablets.
The iPad Mini has a 7.9-inch, 1024-by-768 resolution display. Although it’s smaller than the 9.7-inch display on current iPads, it has the same 1024-by-768 resolution as Apple’s first- and second-generation tablets. That means it’s wider than competing 7-inch tablets, and it can run all the same apps as current iPads.
The app compatibility is important, considering that tablet-optimized apps are the iPad’s greatest strength over competing tablets. During a press event, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that the iTunes App Store now has more than 275,000 iPad apps that have been optimized for the larger display.
The iPad Mini looks a lot like the leaked cases and product renders that have been popping up for the last few months. It’s 7.2 mm thick, making it 23 percent thinner than the larger iPad, and it’s 53 percent lighter, at 0.68 pounds. (Apple says the iPad Mini is as thin as a pencil and as light as a pad of paper.)
Other specs include an A5 processor, HD front-facing camera, a 5-megapixel rear camera and optional 4G LTE connectivity. The iPad Mini gets 10 hours of battery life, and uses the same Lightning connector found in the iPhone 5.
Prices for the iPad Mini start at $329 with 16 GB of storage and Wi-Fi; 32 GB and 64 GB models are available for $429 and $529, respectively, and 4G LTE costs an additional $130. It’ll be available in black or white, and has its own optional Smart Covers, similar to those of the larger iPad. The price leaves a bit of breathing room for $200 tablets such as Google’s Nexus 7, Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD.
Pre-orders for the iPad Mini begin on Friday. The Wi-Fi version goes on sale November 2, and the 4G LTE version will arrive two weeks later in the U.S. and several other countries.
Apple also announced a fourth-generation iPad, though it’s not a major overhaul over the iPad that launched earlier this year. The new iPad has a faster Apple A6x chip, expanded LTE support (including Sprint in the United States), dual-channel Wi-Fi and the smaller Lightning connector that launched with the new iPhone. Pricing is the same as earlier iPads, starting at $499 for 16 GB with Wi-Fi, and $629 with 4G LTE.