Today, Apple did something very un-Apple. It released new hardware … quietly.
Now available online and in-store are the iPad Air — a 10.5-inch iPad that’ll fit between the 9.7-inch entry-level iPad and the larger, more specced out iPad Pro models in Apple’s iPad lineup — and the iPad mini, an adorable 7.9-inch iPad.
Technically, the new iPad Air and the iPad mini are both updated models of older iPads. Apple antiquated the last iPad Air, the iPad Air 2, two years ago when it announced the iPad. Before today, the last iPad mini had not been updated in three and a half years.
Other than the obvious size differences, the new iPad Air and the new iPad mini are actually very similar. They both have a beautiful Retina and True Tone display; are powered by an A12 Bionic processor (the same as the newest iPhones); come with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, just like some of the older iPhones; have a Lightning charging port and a headphone jack; and they come with stylus support for the Apple Pencil. Each is available in the same storage capacities (64GB or 256GB) and come in the same color options (silver, space gray or gold), too.
In many ways, these new iPads are Apple’s way of flexing its muscles. The company has had a stranglehold on the tablet industry for years and it’s releasing the new iPad Air and the new iPad mini because it can. It gives customers more iPad options to choose from. That said, neither of the newest iPads are super cheap, and they don’t have quite the power, capabilities and the modern look (edge-to-edge display, Face ID) of the latest iPad Pros, which were announced in the fall. Weirdly, the new iPad Air and the iPad mini don’t support the newest Apple Pencil, so you’ll have to use the first-gen stylus that doesn’t magnetically clip to the tablet.
You can order the iPad Air and iPad mini online today. The iPad Air starts at $499 for a Wi-Fi-only model and is available for $629 if you want a model that also supports cellular. The iPad mini starts at $399 for a Wi-Fi-only model, or $529 if you want a cellular model.
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