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4th gen iPad and iPad mini officially announced

4th gen ipad with retina display and iPad mini

Apple has revealed its latest line up of MacBook Pro, iMacs and iPads at their special event in San Jose. The biggest highlight that most are anticipating is the new iPad mini, which is Apple’s foray into the sub-10″ tablet category.

New 4th generation iPad with Retina Display

Before that, lets talk about the new 4th generation iPad which replaces the current new iPad with Retina Display. The new 9.7″ iPad is now simply called the iPad with Retina display, which is similar naming convention with their MacBook Pro line up. While it was expected as a minor refresh to include a lightning connector and wider LTE support, the 4th gen iPad comes with an all new dual-core A6X chip with quad-core graphics. This promises twice the performance over the iPad it replaces.

Despite having a more powerful chip, the 4th gen iPad still maintains its 10 hour battery life. The front facing camera has also been upgraded to 1.2MP to support FaceTime in HD. The rest of the hardware remains unchanged including the same 9.4mm thickness and 652 gram weight for WiFi model. Along with the new lightning connector, they have also introduced new cables for USB and SD Card connection.

It is interesting to point out that the 3rd gen iPad with Retina display has been officially discontinued just 7 months since its introduction. The iPad 2 still remains as an entry level 9.7″ tablet at RM1,199. The new iPad is expected to be priced the same as the 3rd generation iPad when it was announced at RM1,499 for the 16GB WiFi model. Full details of the new iPad with Retina display over at their product page.

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Read on for the iPad mini.

Introducing the new 7.9″ iPad mini

Now to the new device – the iPad mini which comes with an all aluminium body with diamond-cut chamfer at the sides. The iPad mini has a 7.9″ IPS display that pushes 1024×768 pixels, which is similar to the 9.7″ iPad 2. While it is no Retina display, it offers a better pixel density (pixels per inch) over the entry level iPad 2 at 163 ppi (iPad 2: 132 ppi). Its direct competitors such as the Nexus 7, pushes a higher 1280×800 pixels resolution which in comparison gives a higher density at 216ppi.

On paper, the larger 7.9″ might seem large but Apple has reduced the bezel at the sides so it maintains a smaller width of just 134.7mm. This allows more display space without compromising the comfort of using it with one hand. As comparison the Nexus 7 has a width of 120mm while the 7″ Kindle Fire HD at 137mm. Underneath, it is powered by a familiar dual-core A5 chip which can be found on the iPad 2, iPhone 4S and the current 5th generation iPod touch. There’s 1GB 512MB of RAM, front facing 1.2MP Camera for FaceTime HD, rear facing 5MP iSight camera and has the same 10 hour battery life rating.

In terms of dimensions, the iPad mini is even thinner at just 7.2mm, which is like a standard pencil. The weight is something that outshine its competitors at only 308grams which is more than half of the full size iPad. While most 7″ tablets compare themselves with paperback books, Apple references the iPad mini as a pad of paper. In terms of connectivity, there’s a WiFi and WiFi + Cellular model that supports LTE just like the 4th gen iPad. Lightning connector also comes as standard just like the current line up. For the WiFi+Cellular model, the iPad mini uses nano-SIM.

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Just like its bigger iPad siblings, the iPad mini comes with smart cover as well but they have removed the side hinges for a cleaner look. The iPad mini comes with a choice of Black and White colours with similar aluminium finish like the iPhone 5 which comes with Slate & Silver finish respectively. For the Smart cover, it comes with 5 polyurethane coloured cover options and there’s no leather version available.

Availability wise, the new iPad mini starts rolling out on 2nd November at first wave countries including US, UK, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. Price starts at US$329 for the 16GB WiFi version. Head over to the iPad mini site for the full product details.

The iPad mini is proof from Apple that 7″ tablets are not ideal and they have come out with a 7.9″ tablet which is the best compromise between display size and user experience. Dimension wise it may not seem to be much different from the competition but combined with the user interface, it’s much better. The biggest question would be the actual local price which is seen as going head on with the RM999 Nexus 7 for 16GB version. With the same access to a library of apps with full blown tablet experience, the iPad mini is seen as a serious contender in the sub 10″ tablet category.

Scroll down for iPad mini product shots, promo video and hands-on by The Verge.