What you need to know about the new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display

Dan Moren Jonathan Seff
24 October, 2013
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Apple announced a whole bunch of stuff at its special media event on Tuesday, not the least of which was taking the wraps off two new iPads. Here’s everything we know so far about these latest iOS-powered tablets.

What iPad news did Apple announce on Tuesday?

Apple unveiled both a thinner, lighter version of the full-sized iPad, called the iPad Air; and a second-generation iPad mini with an improved screen called the iPad mini with Retina display.

What will they cost?

The iPad Air costs the same as the iPad it replaces. For Wi-Fi models that’s $598 (16GB), $699 (32GB), $799 (64GB) and $899 (128GB). For Wi-Fi + Cellular models, that’s $749 (16GB), $849 (32GB), $949 (64GB) and $1049 (128GB).

For the iPad mini with Retina display, the Wi-Fi versions will cost $479 for 16GB, $598 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB and $799 for 128GB (a first in that capacity for the iPad mini). Cellular versions will be $629, $749, $849 and $949, respectively.

What about older versions? Is Apple still selling any previous models?

Yes. The full-sized iPad 2 remains in Apple’s lineup at $449 for a 16GB Wi-Fi version and $598 for a 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model. And the original iPad mini is still available for $349 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model and $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular version.


Speaking of which, when and where will they be available?

Apple will start selling both the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air (in most countries) on 1 November – via the online Apple Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorised Resellers – starting at 8am local time. At this point, it doesn’t appear that you’ll be able to pre-order the iPad Air to get it on release day.

The iPad Air will initially go on sale in 42 countries/territories: the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China (Wi-Fi models only), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao (Wi-Fi models only), Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Apple noted that this is the first time that China is part of the initial rollout for an iPad launch.

The new iPad mini’s availability is more vague. All Apple has said is that it will become available sometime “later in November” so we don’t know exactly when you’ll be able to buy one, if both Wi-Fi and cellular models will go on sale on the same date, or if Apple will announce any kind of pre-sale for that model.

What colours do the new iPads come in? Is there a gold option?

Alas no. Gold is still an iPhone 5s-only hue for now. Both new iPads come in either space grey or silver colours.

Do the new iPads include the Touch ID fingerprint scanner found on the iPhone 5s?

No. The new iPads don’t offer the ability to use your fingerprint to unlock them, so you’ll still have to swipe and enter your Apple ID like a commoner.

So if there’s no flashy Touch ID sensor, what’s so new about the iPad?

Well, the iPad Air is a new form factor for the 9.7in iPad, though it’s one that you’ll immediately notice as being much more similar to the iPad mini. There’s a thinner bezel all around the display, especially on the left and right sides. The casing of the Air is also more similar to the mini than the previous iPad iterations, with metal buttons and a somewhat steeper beveled edge. Perhaps most significant is that all of these improvements come with a net weight reduction – the iPad Air weighs in at just 469g, 28 percent (181g) lighter than its predecessor. It’s also 20 percent thinner and has 24 percent less volume than the fourth-generation iPad.

And the iPad mini, does that change at all?

The biggest obvious change is the addition of a 2048 x 1536 Retina display. That’s the same number of pixels as the 9.7in iPad, albeit crammed into a much smaller display. As with the larger iPad, it makes text and images crystal clear, and with iOS 7’s insistence on thin lines and fine text, that’s bound to be a welcome improvement.

The iPad mini with Retina display.

Are these new models more powerful than before?

The new iPad models include Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip and M7 motion coprocessor – which can monitor the device’s various motion sensors (accelerometer, compass and gyroscope) without having to wake the main processor – both of which debuted with the iPhone 5s. These should add up to much better performance and graphics power than before: Apple says that translates to up to twice both the CPU and graphics performance as the previous iPad.

What else has changed?

Both models takes advantage of faster 802.11n Wi-Fi thanks to MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) support with two antennas, though they don’t yet pick up the 802.11ac standard that’s becoming popular in the Mac line. They also have expanded LTE support for more countries around the world. And there’s now official T-Mobile support for the iPad.

Surely those new processors and the Retina display on the iPad mini will impact battery life negatively?

Apple actually claims the same 10-hour battery life on the new iPads as it did on the previous generations. But we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on them to test out real-world battery life and how they compare to their predecessors.

by Dan Moren and Jonathan Seff, Macworld

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