Apple unveiled a new iPad mini at today’s California Streaming keynote. The tablet, which has largely remained unchanged in recent years, finally got a refreshed design that drops the Touch ID home button and adopts the thin-bezel design of the iPad Air and iPad Pro. It’s previously been reported that Apple would refresh the iPad mini in line with its other tablets.
The new iPad mini is available for pre-order today, starting at $499. Deliveries will begin next week.
The smallest tablet in Apple’s lineup has for a long time sat in a weird place in the iPad family — it’s more expensive than the standard iPad, which has featured a larger screen and nearly identical internals, but it’s also not too much larger than a smartphone. That has made it a difficult sell.
Portability — The iPad mini still has appeal for certain people, however, a point CEO Tim Cook emphasized in introducing the new iPad mini. “There’s simply no other device like iPad mini. It gives users all the power of iPad in its most portable form, which makes it indispensable for its widespread uses.” The iPad mini is particularly popular in the enterprise, where organizations like hospitals and airlines use them for data entry and as a replacement to cumbersome paper documentation.
Specs — With the new iPad mini dropping a physical home button, the screen size has been increased to 8.3-inches diagonal, up from 7.9-inches. Inside, Apple has incorporated an A13 Bionic processor that it says provides for a 40 percent jump in CPU performance and an 80 percent increase in graphics processing speeds for a more zippy experience surfing apps. There’s also, notably, an option to buy the iPad mini with support for 5G service, so you can get work done from anywhere. The cameras have been improved for boomers who like taking pictures with a tablet. It’s hard to see the shot on a small screen, we get it. Storage options are 64GB and 256GB.
Like the updated iPad Air, the new mini does not include Face ID support, so Apple has incorporated a Touch ID fingerprint sensor into the lock button. The Lightning port has been replaced with USB-C, which Apple says will make it easier to connect accessories like cameras for image transfers.
At $499, the updated tablet is priced at $100 more than its predecessor and $170 more than the 10.2-inch iPad. Apple is clearly marketing the iPad mini not as a budget tablet but as a tablet with portability as a benefit worth paying up for. And there are now four color options to choose from, so there’s that.
The standard iPad is now the only tablet in Apple’s lineup that hasn’t adopted the new design. That one serves as Apple’s true budget option.