updated 02:20 pm EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
Apple says its internals are better than iPad 2
Apple ended all speculation at its media event today, finally unveiling the much-expected iPad mini. As expected, the new, smaller iPad packs much of the internals of the iPad 2 into a form factor about the size of other 7-inch tablets like Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD. Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller took a special pleasure in pointing out what Apple believes makes the late-coming iPad mini superior to its competition, noting that others might have tried to make 7-inch devices, but "they've failed miserably."
The new, smaller iPad packs a 7.9-inch screen outputting at 1024x768, giving it 49 percent more screen real estate than its similarly-sized competition. It also has Apple's dual-core A5 processor inside. It has a 5MP iSight camera, LTE as an option, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, 10 hours of battery life, and Lightning compatibility.
Apple's new iPad holds a number of advantages over its similarly-sized competition, but it also gives up ground in some areas. In the iPad mini's favor are its 7.9-inch screen size, rear camera, and optional LTE connectivity. The screen dimensions, in particular, give Apple's tablet 49 percent more screen real estate than the competition, according to Apple.
Perhaps most importantly, the iPad mini is compatible with the 275,000 apps that already work on Apple's iPad. Other tablets running Google's Android operating system face a dearth of tablet-specific apps, a fact Apple CEO Tim Cook spent a good deal of time discussing. Google is said to be encouraging developers to build more tablet-specific apps for Android, but for the foreseeable future Apple will likely retain a sizable lead in this sector.
The iPad mini loses out, though, on price. Starting at $329 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, it is 32 percent more expensive than a 16GB Nexus 7, 43 percent more expensive than a 16GB Nook HD, and 65 percent more expensive than the 16GB Kindle Fire HD. It remains to be seen whether the larger screen, rear camera, and larger app selection will prove enough of a draw for most consumers to get them to choose Apple's offering over the competition, as price is considered one of the main attractions driving the 7-inch segment.
The new iPad also arguably lags behind the competition in terms of processing power, as it sports a dual-core A5 chip, while the Nexus 7 has a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset. In terms of resolution, all three of Apple's main competitors best the new iPad. The iPad mini boasts a resolution of 1024x768, versus 1280x800 for the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 and 1440x900 for the Nook HD.
The iPad mini will be available for pre-order at Apple's online store starting October 26, with Wi-Fi models becoming available at Apple Retail Stores at 8:00 a.m. on November 2. Wi-Fi+Cellular models will be available on a number of carriers in mid-November.