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Apple unveiled a smaller version of the iPad as well as an updated fourth generation iPad during a media event at the California Theatre in San Jose today. Officially known as the iPad mini, it's much more than just a shrunken-down iPad according to Apple.
The 7.9-inch display maintains the same 1,024 x 768 resolution found on the iPad 2 which means apps won't need to be refreshed to scale on the iPad mini. The unit itself is 7.2mm thick, or roughly a quarter inch thinner than the fourth generation iPad, and weighs 0.68 pounds. It's small enough to be held in one hand, as Apple's Phil Schiller demonstrated during the announcement.
Specification-wise, the iPad mini packs a dual-core A5 processor, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, a FaceTime HD camera, 5-megapixel rear iSight camera with 1080p recording and an optional LTE radio. Apple's new Lightning connector comes standard alongside claims of 10 hour battery life.
Apple is clearly targeting Google's Nexus 7 and other 7-inch slates with the iPad mini. Schiller made sure to highlight the fact that the Nexus has a thicker plastic bezel and a smaller display area. He even went as far as to say that you get a tablet experience on the iPad mini but you only get a scaled-up phone experience on the Nexus.
The iPad mini will be available in white and black with the same curved back as the iPod touch - the black featuring the same type of anodized aluminum found on the iPhone 5. Pricing starts at $329 for a 16GB Wi-Fi only model, $429 for a 32Gb model or $519 for 64GB of storage. Add $130 to each tier for LTE connectivity.
The iPad mini will be available for pre-order on October 26 (that's probably not a coincidence). Wi-Fi models will ship on November 2 with cellular-enabled units hitting stores two weeks later.
Apple also announced an updated full-size iPad simply referred to as the fourth generation iPad. This new iPad includes a beefier A6X processor for double the CPU and graphics performance, a new FaceTime camera that supports 720p resolution, the new Lightning connector, 802.11a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi and the same image signal processor found in the iPhone 5. Pricing remains the same as the third generation iPad which starts at $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model.
Needless to say, the third generation iPad certainly had a short lifespan at just over six months.