New iPad Mini and iPad Air: Apple Pencil Support Gives Big Boost to Artists

Apple's new iPads make it easier to sketch on the go.


Apple took the wraps off two big upgrades to its iPad line on Monday: a 7.9-inch iPad Mini and 10.5-inch iPad Air, both packed with Apple Pencil support and the latest A12 Bionic system processors. Support for the stylus enables artists and designers to sketch out their ideas onto the screen, with palm rejection and fast display response times enabling a smoother drawing experience. The new upgrades were rumored earlier this year and represent the first major Apple launches of 2019.

The new iPad Mini, starting at $399 for Wifi connectivity or $529 to add cellular, is the first major update to the tiny tablet in nearly four years. The new chip means three times faster speeds and nine times faster graphics than its predecessor, while the laminated screen with true tone and wide color gamut support offers 25 percent higher brightness. Its compact design means it fits in a big coat pocket, and Apple Pencil support makes it a useful sketchbook for artists on the go:

The company also released a new 10.5-inch iPad Air, priced at $499 for Wi-fi connectivity and $629 to add cellular. It’s the first iPad with the “Air” moniker since its predecessor launched in 2014. Like the Mini, it offers a laminated screen with true tone and wide color gamut support. It offers 70 percent faster speeds and double the graphics speeds when compared with the $329 9.7-inch iPad. Unlike the cheaper iPad and the Mini, it also supports smart keyboards through a connection.

Both new iPads come with either 64GB or 256GB of storage, color choices of silver, space gray and gold, and the option of cellular connectivity. The devices use the first-generation Apple Pencil, available for $99, that charges via the Lightning connector unlike the second-generation model released in November that charges magnetically to the side of the iPad. A special smart keyboard for the new iPad Air costs $159.

Although a big step forward for Apple’s power-end tablets, the new devices pale in comparison to the more expensive iPad Pro, starting at $799 for an 11-inch model. This supports the new-style Apple Pencil, drops the Lightning connector for USB-C to support a broader range of devices, and the ProMotion display with double the refresh rate to reach 120Hz, a smooth effect described as “weird” by its converts. The Pro models also ditch Touch ID for Face ID, meaning users can unlock the screen through an infrared scanner and navigate the device through a series of gestures.

Expect more news from Apple about its future plans when it takes to the stage on March 25, where it’s expected to reveal its rumored video streaming service.

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