Apple took what was already shaping up to be a busy March into second gear on Monday morning, pulling the trigger on a somewhat surprising product drop that brought forth two new iPads. This comes within two weeks of a highly anticipated media event which is expected to introduce the company’s $1 billion foray into original programming.
The announcement took place with less fanfare than is characteristic for Apple, taking the form of a press release and a tweet from CEO Tim Cook, who shared a photo of him showing off the new Apple Pencil integration, which Apple says is now supported on both of the newest models, the 10.5-Inch iPad Air and the new 7.9 inch iPad mini.
There was a good deal of chatter that Apple would introduce new iPads this spring. Until recently, it was considered a possibility that the new hardware would be featured alongside Apple’s new programming at its next media event. But as expected, it looks like Apple is clearing the stage to to devote the entire presentation to offerings from its services business, including its new original shows, a streaming service product, a subscription news product, and possible credit card.
The new iPad mini replaces the iPad mini 4, which was released all the way back in 2015, and will tout a A12 Bionic chip, Retina display with True Tone technology, and support the Apple Pencil.
iPad Mini 2019 Release Date
Apple’s new iPads are available on the site starting March 18, and will be available in stores starting next week, according to Apple.
iPad Mini 2019: Pricing
The the new iPad mini series mostly follows the same pricing tiers as its predecessor, which the cheapest one starting at $399. This variant comes with no cellular connectivity and 64 GB of storage. Adding cellular connectivity will knock the price up to $529.00, and the 256 GB model with all the bells and whistles will go for $679.00.
This was actually a little bit of a surprise, as the iPad mini will still run you a little bit more than an actual iPad, whose variants start at $329. The difference, however, is the chipset: The new iPad minis will be powered by an A12 bionic chipset, which means they should run about a third faster, according to Apple.
iPad Mini 2019: Colors
The new iPad minis will come in three colors: Silver, Space gray, and gold.
iPad Mini 2019: Display
The iPad mini boasts a 7.9 inch Retina display, with LED-backlit Multi-Touch display. At 326 pixels per inch (ppi), Apple says it should be the highest pixel density of any of its displays.
iPad Mini 2019: Cameras
The iPad mini’s will pack a 8-megapixel camera, an ƒ/2.4 aperture, with a five-element lens. This setup will enable a handful of new editing features for the iPad mini, including Live Photos, Autofocus, Panorama, HDR (on photos, but not video), burst mode, and auto image stabilization, among a handful of others.
iPad Mini 2019: Apple Pencil Support?
After introducing the second generation Apple Pencil last October, hopes began to run high that Apple would expand Apple Pencil integration to the rest of the iPad lines. For now, it looks like only the $799 iPad Pros (to start) will support the second generation Apple Pencil, but the iPad, mini, and iPad Air will all support the first generation Apple Pencil.
iPad Mini 2019: Chipset
The main reason that Apple can justify charging more for the iPad mini than the larger iPads is the chipset. The A12 bionic chips in the iPad mini will make the tablet run about a third faster than the previous iPad mini, with about nine times faster graphics, according to Apple.
iPad Mini: Other Notable Features
The combination of the new camera set-up — plus the new A12 chipset — means that the new iPad minis will be able to summon and shoot immersive AR. Apple notes that some 1.3 million apps have now been designed exclusively for the iPad alone.
Wait… Didn’t Apple Kill the iPad Mini?
Consider the new iPad mini something of a resuscitation: Apple was thought to be discontinuing the iPad mini as recently as 2018, per a Mac World report from the time. In a note sent March, 2018, the noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also wrote that Apple would likely discontinue the iPad mini. With smartphone screens growing ever larger, a non-cellular iPad with an eight inch screen was expected to flop.
This perception was obviously off the mark. While the pricing on the iPad mini is still a little bit of a surprise, the improved chipset makes up for it, putting the iPad mini a full two generations ahead of the 2018 iPads in terms of processing speeds. By supporting Apple Pencil, the new minis can also make a case as being productivity tools. The market for tablets may still be declining, according to the latest data from IDC. But it remains Apple’s for the taking.