We're one week out from Apple's services-focused event in Cupertino, and the company just announced a pair of devices we've been expecting for quite some time. Apple debuted a new, $499 10.5-inch iPad Air and a new, $399 7.9-inch iPad mini today. Both have familiar designs but also have the company's new A12 Bionic chip.
The new iPad Air looks like previous models, with thicker bezels on the top and bottom of the advanced Retina display (now with True Tone technology) to house the camera array and the physical Home button. While both new iPads have updated cameras that can better handle low-light situations and immersive AR experiences, they appear to omit FaceID entirely.
Inside the iPad Air is the new A12 Bionic chip with Apple's neural engine, and the company claims it will make the new Air 70 percent faster than previous versions, with twice the graphics power. The updated display now supports the Apple Pencil as well, giving more users the opportunity to draw, sketch, and take notes on an iPad.
Similar updates were made to produce the new 7.9-inch iPad mini. Apple's most compact iPad now runs on its A12 Bionic chip, which the company claims will provide three times better overall performance and nine times faster graphics performance. The new iPad mini now has an advanced Retina display with True Tone, and it will support the Apple Pencil as well. Much like the new Air, the new mini didn't receive other noticeable design updates—it still has chunky top and bottom bezels as well as the physical Home button.
The $499 iPad Air sits closer to the regular iPad in Apple's lineup, with a starting price that's $170 more than the $329 iPad that debuted last year. The latter device was positioned as an education-focused, affordable option for those who wanted an iPad but didn't want or need the power and price tag of an iPad Pro. With its A12 Bionic chip, the new Air will be a more powerful device than the base iPad, and it may attract more customers with its easier-to-swallow starting price (the iPad Pro, in comparison, starts at $799).
While the new iPad mini looks identical to its previous model, it's a refresh that was much needed. The mini hasn't seen a meaningful update since 2015, and the spec bumps in the new version may encourage users to finally upgrade.
Apple has typically announced new iPads at spring events, but the event to be held on March 25 this year will focus entirely on upcoming services. Apple will likely announce its new and highly anticipated TV streaming service and possibly a new news subscription service.
The new iPad Air and iPad mini are available for preorder today from Apple's website. The iPad Air starts at $499 for a Wi-Fi model with 64GB of storage (a cellular model starts at $629). The iPad mini starts at $399 for a Wi-Fi model with 64GB of storage (a cellular model starts at $529).