Apple Announces New iPad Mini and iPad Air
Apple essentially owns the premium tablet market now that Google’s interest in Android tablets is waning. The updated iPad Pro models launched several months ago brought new designs and many of the features from the company’s new iPhones. Apple’s latest tablet announcement focuses on the lower end of the spectrum. The iPad Mini has gotten a much-needed update, and the 10.5-inch Air becomes the new middle-of-the-road Apple tablet.
The iPad Pro models are still safely out of reach for casual tablet users with a starting price of $800. Then there’s the $329 entry-level iPad with a 9.7-inch LCD. Both of the new Apple tablets are a little more expensive, but they’re far cheaper than the iPad Pros.
The iPad Mini has the same 7.9-inch display and general form factor — it has a Touch ID home button, a 60Hz LCD, and a Lightning port. Most of the updates are on the inside, including an Apple A12 processor. That offers quite a performance bump over the A8 in the previous Mini. This device also gets support for the Apple Pencil stylus.
The new Mini costs $399 with 64GB of storage and $549 with 256GB. Add another $130 to that if you want an LTE model instead of Wi-Fi only.
The iPad Mini is clearly positioned as a smaller, more portable tablet. The new iPad Air (the third-gen version of the device) is a bit harder to pin down. It has a 10.5-inch 2,224 × 1,668 display, which is just slightly larger than the entry-level iPad and smaller than the iPad Pro. This is a successor to the discontinued iPad Pro 10.5, but it doesn’t have a 120Hz display of the old Pro. Like the new Mini, the Air has an Apple A12 chip, a Lightning port, Touch ID, and support for the Apple Pencil.
Reviving the “Air” brand is a bit odd for Apple, but the new tablet does try to justify it with a slimmer build compared with the other iPads. It’s just 6.1mm thick and weighs 456 grams. The smaller $329 iPad is 469 grams and 7.5mm thick.
The new iPad Air starts at $499 with 64GB of storage with an upgrade to 256GB for $649. Again, you can get cellular connectivity for $130 more. Apple also has a new Smart Keyboard case for the Air for $159. Apple’s tablet sales have sagged in recent years, buoyed mainly by the cheap $329 iPad. Perhaps these new mid-range options will keep tablets afloat.