In a surprising move, given Apple has scheduled a special event next week, the company has released updates to the iPad Air and iPad mini. Although the Air has seen some updates, it's been well over 1000 days since the iPad mini has seen any love. Here's what's coming.
The new iPad Air keeps the 10.5-inch display but gets a speed bump with Apple's A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine. But the big-ticket change is support for the Apple Pencil.
However, the Apple Pencil support is limited to the Apple Pencil 1 which means it gets the old crappy charging solution and lacks a magnetic connection to the iPad.
It also means Apple's proprietary Lightning port gets some more life as it will be used to charge the Apple Pencil. So, any hope that Apple would make a clean transition to USB-C connectors has been scotched for now.
The 7.9-inch iPad mini gets a similar speed bump and support for the Apple Pencil as well. That's a good move and means that Apple has embraced the stylus-led future across it's entire iPad range with only legacy tablet devices no longer offering Apple Pencil support.
Both devices get updated displays, come in silver, space grey and gold finishes, with 64GB and 256GB configurations and options for Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi and cellular.
The new iPad Air's Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20% larger has over over half a million more pixels than the model it supersedes. And the new iPad mini boasts the highest pixel density of any iPad.
Both devices retain a single 8MP rear camera and 7MP front-facing snapper for FaceTime and shooting selfies.
I've been using the latest 11-inch iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil 2 since its release and it's a great device but too large for my needs. The new iPad mini is the device that I've been waiting for as I mainly use an iPad for note taking during interviews, checking email and managing my schedule. The iPad mini makes a lot of sense for me.
Apple has made choosing an iPad harder
The iPad Air is baffling to me. Between the iPad, iPad Air and iPad Pro, Apple has created a cluttered range that will likely confuse customers. What's the difference between the iPad and iPad Air? Apple's iPad comparison site doesn't really help, particularly when differentiating the iPad and iPad Air. The Air gets a faster processor and more storage options but Apple could have simplified that with one device rather than creating an articial differentiation.
It feels to me that, with the iPad Air and iPad, that the marketing types got into the act and made something that should have been simple more complicated than it needs to be.
Pricing and availability
The new iPad mini starts at RRP $599 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi model and RRP A799 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model
The 10.5-inch iPad Air starts at RRP $779 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi model and RRP $979 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.
The new iPad models are available to order starting today from apple.com/au and in the Apple Store app.
Apple Pencil (1st generation) is available for purchase separately for RRP $145 inc. GST and a Smart Keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Air is available for purchase separately for RRP $235 inc. GST.
Other accessories include polyurethane Smart Covers in charcoal grey, white, pink sand and papaya for $65 inc. GST for iPad mini and $79 for iPad Air. Leather Smart Covers available for iPad Air for RRP $99 inc. GST in black, saddle brown, midnight blue and red.