After months of rumors, Apple CEO Tim Cook and marketing chief Phil Schiller took to the stage in San Jose today to finally unveil the iPad Mini.
After getting the crowd up to speed on the company’s new 13-inch MacBooks with high resolution Retina displays, svelte new iMacs and an updated iPad, Schiller brandished the new iPad Mini. Packing a 7.9-inch screen and trimmer form factor than its full-sized counterpart, it’s Apple’s answer to growing competition from compact Android-powered slates.
Last year, Amazon challenged the iTunes ecosystem by going small with the Kindle Fire, a 7-inch Android tablet optimized for ebooks and media from Amazon’s digital marketplace. The starter tablet market picked up steam early this summer when Google announced the Nexus 7, a 7-inch tablet with an HD screen and market-leading specs for $200.
In September, Amazon refreshed the Kindle Fire line with new HD models and a new, larger 8.9-inch version. Barnes & Noble followed suit by announcing new Nook tablets in both 7-inch and 9-inch versions.
Today, it was Apple’s turn to keep the iPad momentum going — 100 million sold to date — by debuting the iPad Mini.
Designed to be held in one hand, the iPad Mini is 0.28 inches thick, weighs 0.68 pounds and measures 5.3 inches by 7.3 inches. It boasts a 1024 x 768 pixel, 7.9-inch display (163 pixels per inch) and packs a dual-core A5 chip. Connectivity choices include Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular (including LTE). On-board storage options are 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB.
The device’s front-side camera supports FaceTime HD. On the back, Apple fitted the Mini with a 5 megapixel iSight camera that is capable of recording in 1080P HD. As is becoming the norm across Apple’s mobile product portfolio, it also sports the company’s new Lightning connector.
Prices start at $329 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model. Preorders open Friday, October 26 and shipments of the Wi-Fi models are scheduled to start on November 2 in several countries. Cellular-enabled iPad Minis will start shipping in the U.S. two weeks later.
The full-sized iPad also got an update today, primarily under the hood. The newly announced fourth-generation iPad packs an A6X chip, which offers double the CPU and graphical performance of the A5X, according to Apple. Another notable change is a switch to the Lightning connector.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.