iPad Air and iPad mini (Retina) Product Notes

On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, Apple announced new models in both its flagship iPad and its smaller iPad mini lines. The iPad Air is the 5th iteration in Apple's 9.7-inch iPad product line, available in both WiFi and LTE configurations with 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, or 128 GB of storage. The iPad mini with Retina display, the second generation of their 7.9-inch iPad mini product line, is also available in both WiFi and LTE configurations with 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, or 128 GB of storage.

Storage iPad Air (WiFi) iPad Air (LTE) iPad mini with Retina (WiFi) iPad mini with Retina (LTE)
16 GB $499 $629 $399 $529
32 GB $599 $729 $499 $629
64 GB $699 $829 $599 $729
128 GB $799 $929 $699 $829

Information Systems & Computing (ISC) continues to believe that most users are best served with an iPad that has at least 32 GB of storage: advice that stands for any "pure" tablet, whether it runs iOS, Android, or Windows RT.

The iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina both feature:

  • New A7 64-bit processor and M7 motion coprocessor, giving significantly improved performance over their predecessors
  • Improved Wi-Fi antennas with multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO)

iPad Air screen size and resolution retains the iPad's 9.7-inch "Retina" display with 2048 x 1536 pixels. The iPad mini with Retina display screen size remains at 7.9 inches, but resolution has increased to 2048 x 1536 pixels, matching the iPad Air (and surpassing its pixel density). The LTE versions of both will be compatible with AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile networks. Interestingly, neither of the two new iPads come with 802.11ac (which is shipping with current Mac notebooks) - both soldier on with 802.11a/b/g/n.

Both iPad models ship with iOS 7 and include a download of Apple's iWork productivity and iLife creativity suites (Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, GarageBand, and iPhoto) at no additional cost. More information on iOS 7's features can be found at Apple's page here.

The iPad Air will become available on November 1, 2013 while the iPad mini with Retina will be available sometime later in November. Concurrent with the release of the new models, Apple has slightly reduced the price of the prior iPad mini and retained the iPad 2 in the lineup - going forward, both of these models will only be available in 16 GB configurations.

Analysis

ISC believes that the most significant long-term improvement to the iPad product line is the inclusion of a 64-bit processor in the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. The Retina display on an iPad mini and the substantially thinner and lighter form of the iPad Air are also welcome changes to significant portions of the University community.

Lowering the price of the original mini and keeping the iPad 2 available gives Apple a better position in selling iPads to highly cost-conscious buyers while also creating a comparison that may drive curious buyers to consider the new higher priced models. Additionally, keeping the non-Retina iPad 2 in the lineup is likely more profitable than simply lowering the price on the 4th generation iPad. More importantly, it keeps a 30-pin connector iPad in the lineup, which allows continued sales to those highly invested in 30-pin technology (such as parts of the K-12 education market).

Additional information

Please see ISC's technology brief for more information about iOS 7.

Apple's iPad comparison page is here.

--Ted Moskalenko and John Mulhern III, ISC Technology Support Services

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Date Posted: October 9, 2013 Tags: Apple, iPad, iOS, Mobile, New and Noteworthy

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