Tuesday, 19 March 2019 02:30

Apple launches new iPad mini at last, and new iPad Air, both with A12 CPU and Pencil compatibility Featured

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A new 10.5-inch iPad Air and a new 7.9-inch iPad mini have arrived, both with Apple Pencil support, advanced Retina display and A12 Bionic processors, for the "most complete" iPad line-up yet.

Watch out, PC sales, iPad is yet again gunning for you with two new models that take the shine off Chromebooks, make Android tablets even more anaemic while offering more than 1.3 million iPad specific apps that do so much more than just scratch the surface of portable computing.

Now, there are some compromises in the sense that the iPad Pro models get the better second-generation Apple Pencil, meaning the new iPad Air and iPad mini are using the first-gen Apple Pencil models, while both new iPads also have Touch ID instead of Face ID, but people who love these features - including a headphone jack alongside much more affordable pricing - should definitely be happy with the new iPad releases.

Indeed, Apple positions it all as "offering the latest innovations including Apple Pencil support and high-end performance at a breakthrough price".

Apple is promising a 70% boost in performance and twice the graphics capability on the new 10.5-inch iPad Air thanks to the "A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine", while "the advanced Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20% with over half a million more pixels.

Then there's the new 7.9-inch iPad mini, with Apple proudly boasting it is "a major upgrade for iPad mini fans who love a compact, ultra-portable design packed with the latest technology".

With the A12 Bionic chip, Apple promises "the new iPad mini is a powerful multi-tasking machine, delivering three times the performance and nine times faster graphics.

"The advanced Retina display with True Tone technology and wide colour support is 25% brighter and has the highest pixel density of any iPad, delivering an immersive visual experience in any setting.

"And with Apple Pencil support, the new iPad mini is the perfect take-anywhere notepad for sketching and jotting down thoughts on the go. The new iPads are available to order starting today and in stores next week."

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice-president of Worldwide Marketing, said: "The iPad continues to provide magical new experiences for a growing range of uses where it is the absolute best device, from playing games in augmented reality to note-taking and drawing with Apple Pencil, from streaming HD movies and editing 4K films to learning to develop apps with Swift Playgrounds.

“Today the iPad family takes two big leaps forward with an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Air that brings high-end size, features and performance at a breakthrough price, and a major upgrade to the 7.9-inch iPad mini, which also brings Apple Pencil, Retina display and the A12 Bionic chip to the many customers that love its compact size.”

Apple Pencil and iPad – billed as "the perfect pair"

Apple says its Pencil "opens up new creativity and productivity possibilities for iPad mini and iPad Air users, from drawing and writing down thoughts to marking up documents and retouching photos".

"The must-have tool among students, professionals and creatives delivers a remarkably fluid and natural drawing experience and provides pixel-perfect accuracy and low latency for activities within popular apps including Procreate, Notability, Pixelmator Photo (coming soon) and Microsoft Office."

Power meets portability with the A12 Bionic chip

Here, Apple says its "Apple-designed Neural Engine of the A12 Bionic chip powers the next generation of apps and iPad workflows using advanced machine learning and Core ML for engaging AR experiences, photo-realistic effects in 3D games and stunning graphics performance within apps".

Connectivity

Naturally, Apple states that "Staying connected is now easier and faster with iPad mini and iPad Air, featuring the same great Wi-Fi performance and Gigabit‑class LTE connectivity built into the most advanced iPad Pro models.

"With eSIM technology built in, users can easily connect to wireless data plans right from iPad when traveling in more than 180 countries around the world.

Let's not forget the "advanced cameras for stunning photos and videos"

Apple reminds us that "with advanced front- and back-facing cameras, iPad mini and iPad Air take gorgeous photos and capture clear and stable 1080p HD videos.

"The upgraded cameras with exceptional low-light performance and HD video recording are great for document scanning and connecting with friends and family on Group FaceTime calls, and with advanced sensors, help enable immersive AR experiences."

More than a million apps just for iPad

Here Apple pokes Google and Microsoft in the eye by noting "The AppStore is the best place to discover more than 1.3 million apps designed specifically for iPad – from journaling with Apple Pencil to managing schedules and finances, editing photos, learning, connecting with friends and family, and playing games.

"Unlike stretched-out phone apps on other platforms, apps designed for iPad run and look great on every iPad."

Apple continues poking Android, Chrome OS and Windows in their respective eyes by stating the following about iOS on iPad:

"iPad Air and iPad mini are perfect for staying productive on the go with iOS, helping users get things done faster with features like Siri Shortcuts, photo search and Voice Memos.

"The Dock provides quick access to frequently used apps and documents from any screen, and multitasking is easy with Split View and Slide Over. Drag and Drop makes moving images, text and files between apps easier than ever, and managing documents in the Files app is seamless and easy on iPad and across Apple devices.

"Apple today announced an upcoming update to iWork for iOS, available next week, with enhanced integration of Apple Pencil including new animation options in Keynote that let users draw an animation path for any object, and an all-new user interface that enables easy implementation of build effects, including move, rotate and scale."

The best, most complete iPad line-up ever

Apple proudly boasts that "the new iPad Air and iPad mini join the most affordable 9.7-inch iPad and the most advanced iPad Pro models, offering the best, most innovative iPad lineup ever.

"The complete lineup now includes Apple Pencil support, best-in-class performance, advanced displays and all-day battery life6 for an experience unmatched by any other device. Whether customers prioritise portability, screen size, power or price, there’s an iPad for everyone", with a link to "learn more about the iPad family" here.

Pricing and availability

The new iPad mini and iPad Air come in silver, space grey and gold finishes in 64GB and 256GB configurations.

The new iPad mini starts at RRP A$599 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi model and RRP A$799 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model and the 10.5-inch iPad Air starts at RRP A$779 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi model and RRP A$979 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model from Apple's website, Apple Store app, Apple Stores, authorised resellers and select carriers.

The new models are available to order from today in "Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UAE, UK and US".

Starting next week, Apple says its new iPad models will be available in those countries and regions, as well as in China (Wi-Fi models only), Macau (Wi-Fi models only) and Mexico with more countries and regions to follow soon, including Colombia, Greece, India, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand (Wi-Fi models only) and Turkey.

The first-generation Apple Pencil is available for purchase separately for RRP A$145 inc. GST, while the Smart Keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Air is available for purchase separately for RRP A$235 inc. GST.

Polyurethane smart covers are available for RRP A$65 inc. GST for iPad mini and RRP A$79 inc. GST for iPad Air in charcoal grey, white, pink sand and a new papaya, with additional leather smart covers available for iPad Air for RRP A$99 inc. GST in black, saddle brown, midnight blue and red.

You can also "trade in your eligible device for credit toward your next purchase, or get an Apple Store Gift Card you can use any time".

As per usual, iPads purchased "from Apple can enjoy free Personal Setup in-store or online, and receive guidance on how to customise their iPad, set up email, find new apps from the App Store and more", while "anyone who wants to learn more or go further with iPad or iOS 12 can sign up for free Today at Apple sessions here". 

With the two new models, Apple is clearly set to sell more iPads than ever before, making all those worries about so-called poor iPhone sales just yet more anti-Apple hysteria that even some iTWire writers have shamelessly and stunningly incorrectly peddled over the years.

Apple goes and grows from strength to strength, and new iPads in the line-up only make Apple stronger still.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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