iPad Mini 2 and iPad Air: Retina Mini goes on sale
Reviewers deliver their verdicts as Apple admits the iPad Mini 2 may be in short supply
APPLE's revamped tablet line-up, including a high-definition "Retina" iPad Mini 2 and a slimmed-down, speeded-up iPad Air, has received an enthusiastic reception from the critics - and both models are now available to buy.
The iPad Air went on sale on 1 November, but prospective buyers of the iPad Mini 2 have had to wait a little longer. The new Mini finally appeared on the Apple Store website this morning.
The delay helped to fuel speculation that the company may be experiencing supply problems with components for the new iPad Mini. Speaking to analysts a few weeks ago, Tim Cook, the company's CEO, admitted that "it's unclear whether we will have enough for the quarter or not." An industry analyst recently told the Daily Telegraph that "the supply of the Retina Mini is going to be ridiculously tight in the fourth quarter."
According to tablet industry analyst Rhoda Alexander, more than 9 million customers will be chasing 4 million iPad Minis.
"Just like last year, Apple users expecting to give the new Mini as a Christmas gift may have a difficult time nabbing the tablet," reports WebProNews. It suggests that would-be gift-givers "should plan for an extended waiting period, possibly, into next year."
Overview of the new iPad models
The iPad Air, which Apple says is 20 per cent faster than its predecessor thanks to a new A7 chip, will be available in silver, white, 'space grey' and black. It has the same 9.7-inch screen as the iPad 4, which will no longer be available.
The iPad Mini 2 also gets an A7 chip and it too now has a Retina display - Apple's term for its highest-definition screens. The previous generation of iPad Minis had less sharp displays.
Neither of the new models include Apple's fingerprint-scanning feature, Touch iD, which was introduced on the latest iPhones launched last month. Nor will they be available in the new iPhone finish of 'champagne gold', as some had predicted.
The iPad Air will cost £399 for the 16GB wi-fi model, £479 for the 32GB model, £559 for the 64GB model and £639 for the 128GB model. For each model, a 3G-enabled device for mobile access cost an extra £100.
The iPad Mini 2 starts at £319 for a 16GB wi-fi model, with prices rising to £399 for a 16GB model, £479 for 64GB and £559 for 128GB. As with its bigger brother, 3G mobile access adds £100.
Reaction from reviewers was generally positive and occasionally downright effusive.
Ask Marc Flores of TechRadar if he thinks you should buy the iPad Air and he'll respond: "If you're in the market for a new tablet, the answer is yes. If you're even considering a new tablet, the answer is yes. Go ahead, throw your money at Apple."
Wired.co.uk explains why. "Apple has trimmed about 30 per cent off the weight and 20 per cent off the thickness of the now-renamed 10-inch iPad, and it shows - to the eye, it looks like an iPad mini; in the hand, it feels more like one."
PC Pro also liked the slimmed-down frame. "It's certainly a more attractive design than the old iPad," wrote its reviewer, "but what's most noticeable when you pick it up for the first time, is how much lighter the iPad Air is compared to its predecessor. ... It really is a massive improvement."
Writing in the Independent, Davip Phelan says the reduction in size is just as important: "It does mean that last year’s covers and cases won’t fit the new model, but that’s the only downside. The new tablet’s size is one of its triumphs. It makes it feel more comfortable in the hand."
Tellingly, there's much less comment about the increased performance of the A7 processor, perhaps because the existing model was fast enough for most people's needs. "That older model was no slouch," notes Wired, "but the iPad Air will keep things future-proof - until the future happens and Apple brings out the A8."
The main question, according to most reviewers, is which model to go for: the iPad Air or the iPad Mini 2.
"The Air may lose a few potential buyers to the iPad mini with Retina display, which will essentially be the Air in a smaller size," says Engadget. "The features, specs and performance should be roughly the same."
"The camera is better on the larger model," notes Wired, "but because the iPad mini has the same number of pixels on-screen as its bigger brother, but tighter together since the screen is smaller, the sharpness of the screen is slightly greater."
iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2 rumours: what will Apple unveil? 21/10/13
WHEN the world's media gather in San Francisco for the unveiling of Apple's latest iPads, they may be in for a disappointment.
Both the new iPad and iPad Mini had been expected to come with Apple's latest security upgrade, Touch iD, according to NoWhereElse.fr. The new bio-metric fingerprint sensor, part of the recently released iPhone 5S, had been expected to be a key selling point.
But reports today suggest that the fingerprint sensor is in short supply and stocks are being directed solely to the new iPhone.
"The claims come in a report from Ming-Chi Kuo, a Thai analyst with a track record of correctly predicting Apple products," the Mirror reports.
As speculation about the new iPads continues to mount, we've put together a briefing on what the experts are expecting.
Tech blog Gizmodo says the "new iPad - the fifth-generation flagship Apple tablet - will likely feature the first major hardware revision since the iPad 3 got a big heavy battery and a retina display back in 2012".
A video posted by Un Box Therapy, which claims to have access to leaked iPad 5 shells, seems to show that the new device will be thinner and lighter than the previous generation.
Although in this video the outer casing looks like Apple's trademark Space Grey shade of aluminium, images posted on French site NoWhereElse.fr appear to show the new iPad in Champagne Gold too - a colour introduced with the iPhone 5S.
Some sources suggest that the iPad Mini 2 will get a "retina" display - Apple's term for the high-definition screen of the full-sized iPad. But the Latin Post casts some doubt on this theory. "Providing the public with iPad minis with Retina display, however, could cause distribution problems for Apple," it reports.
Further rumours suggest other likely upgrades include better front and rear cameras and improved battery life.
Although Apple never comments on pre-launch rumours, it is nigh-on certain that both devices will run iOS7.
Gizmodo thinks the "16/32/64/128 GB Wi-Fi models should cost £399, £479, £559, and £639. Models models with LTE [mobile network connections] should cost £499, £579, £659, and £739".
Apple's rhythm of releases, especially for new iPads, rarely changes, and nor does the gap between unveiling and release. The Enquirer says the strategy is "likely to follow the firm's usual practice of arriving in stores one week after the launch", giving a UK launch date of November 1.
Is Apple about to unveil new iPads at secret launch? 10/10/13
APPLE could be about to launch a new iPad and iPad Mini 2, with reports that the company is planning an event later this month where the devices are to be unveiled.
The invitation-only event is expected to take place on Tuesday 22 October, but the venue remains a mystery. According to AllThingsD, a fifth generation iPad and the iPad Mini 2 will be among the new products on display.
John Lewis has already forecast that the iPad Mini will be its best-selling tech product in the lead up to Christmas. The retailer believes it will sell one tablet every 15 seconds over the festive period as people look to upgrade old models.
As usual, Apple has refused to confirm or deny the rumours. But the technology giant has released a new iPad every year since the first version hit shelves in April 2010 – and almost a year has passed since the iPad 4 was released.
The next-generation tablet is expected to feature "a thinner, lighter design akin to the iPad mini's, [with] an improved camera," says AllThingsD.
The technology website also predicts that the new iPad mini will include a 'Retina' display – a screen so detailed that the human eye cannot identify individual pixels. However, other technology experts have suggested the technology might not be ready in time. There is some speculation that the iPad Mini 2 could be available in a range of brightly coloured backs, much like the iPhone 5C, launched last month.
It has also been rumoured that the new iPads will feature the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which recently debuted on the iPhone 5S.
The new MacPro workstation computer could be released on 22 October as well. It was unveiled in June but a release date is yet to be confirmed.
Adding to the excitement, a new Mac operating system, OS X Mavericks, is expected any day. Likely changes include tweaks to memory management and process handling which would extend the battery life on laptops.