In the just concluded special event, Apple has refreshed its tablet line up for 2013. The full sized iPad in its 5th generation is given a new name – the iPad air while the iPad mini gets a much needed screen bump in resolution with Retina Display.
The new iPad Air retains the same 9.7″ Retina Display but now comes in a much slimmer package. As expected, it follows the same design language as the current iPad mini with a thinner bezel for a narrower width. The new iPad air is now just 7.5mm thick and weighs 469 grams which is 20% thinner and 28% lighter than the current 4th gen iPad with Retina Display. In fact, the iPad Air is currently the lightest full sized tablet. As comparison, the water and dust resistant Sony Xperia Tablet Z is heavier at 495 grams but it is still thinner at just 6.9mm.
Powering the new iPad Air is Apple’s latest A7 chip and M7 co-processor which also powers their current iPhone 5S. Contrary to earlier leaks and speculation, there’s no Touch ID this round and it retains the same Home button as before. The iPad Air also retains a 5MP main camera that shoots 1080p HD videos but over at the front, the new Facetime HD front camera comes with bigger pixels for better low light performance. For better audio recording and conferencing, there are 2 microphones on the iPad Air as well. WiFi is improved too with dual antennas and MIMO for 2x faster 802.11n performance. With the A7 chip, Apple claims to have made the battery smaller but still maintains the same 10 hour battery life as its previous model.
The iPad Air comes in either Space Gray and Silver with 4 storage options of 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. It will go on sale beginning next Friday on 1st November in first wave countries including the US, UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Unfortunately Malaysia again is being left out from being among the first in the world to get it.
In the US, the price remains unchanged with its $499 starting price for WiFi and $629 for WiFi + 4G LTE support. However our southern neighbour Singapore is seeing a slight price bump at $688 for the 16GB WiFi version, which is higher than the previous full sized iPad priced at $658 for the same model.
Meanwhile, the 4th gen iPad with Retina Display in Malaysia has been reduced slightly on the Apple Online Store with about RM50-RM100 less. The two and a half year old iPad 2 is still on sale as the entry level full sized tablet with price starting at RM1,199 for the WiFi 16GB model.
iPad mini with Retina Display
Next is the compact iPad mini which now comes with Retina Display. Its 7.9″ display now does 2048×1536 pixels resolution giving a pixel density of 326ppi. This is probably the highest pixel density for a tablet considering the Nexus 10 and Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) pushes a pixel density of 300ppi with its 2560×1600 pixels resolution. It’s closest rival would still be the Nexus 7 (2013) which does a pixel density of 323ppi from its Full HD 7.0″ display.
At first glance, the new iPad mini looks identical to its predecessor but it is actually thicker and heavier at 7.5mm and 331 grams. The original iPad mini was thinner at 7.2mm with a weight of 308 grams. Underneath, it runs on an equally powerful A7 processor with M7 co-processor as the iPad air and also comes with upgraded wireless antennas with more LTE bands supported. In terms of options, the iPad mini will also get a choice of Space Grey and Silver in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB options.
So far there’s no specific availability dates mentioned for the iPad mini with Retina display but it is hinted towards late November. In Singapore, their online store has listed the iPad mini with Retina Display WiFi 16GB unit at S$548 which is $100 more than last year’s iPad mini 16GB WiFi of $448. Somehow Apple’s pricing is getting ridiculously expensive especially with the upcoming iPhone 5S and 5C are officially priced up to RM400 more.
If you’re fine with the current iPad mini, it is now reduced slightly from as low as RM949 for the 16GB WiFi model on the Online Store.