At its October 22 media event, Apple announced a new iPad mini with Retina Display, as well as lower prices for the original iPad mini, giving its smaller tablet much-anticipated upgrades to its screen, processor, cameras, and more, along with lower starting prices.
New iPad mini with Retina Display
For starters—and as we had hoped and expected—the new iPad mini with Retina Display ups its screen resolution to Retina quality, going from 1024 by 768 pixels to 2048 by 1536 pixels at the same 7.9-inch (diagonal) screen size. This change raises the iPad mini's pixel density from 163 pixels per inch to 326 pixels per inch—a density almost identical to that of the iPhone 5s.
The new mini gets some upgrades on the inside, as well. Whereas the original mini used the same dual-core A5 processor, at the same clock speed, as the two-and-a-half-year-old iPad 2, the new mini line bumps its horsepower significantly by using Apple's 64-bit A7 processor, similar to the one in the iPhone 5s. During Tuesday's media event, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said that the new processor makes the Retina iPad mini up to four times as fast as its predecessor for processor-intensive tasks, and up to eight times faster for graphics-intensive tasks. Like the new full-size iPad, the iPad mini with Retina Display also features Apple's M7 motion coprocessor, which can monitor the device's various motion sensors (accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope) without having to wake the main processor.
The new mini also gains upgraded wireless capabilities thanks to dual Wi-Fi antennas and support for MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) technology. Apple says this change allows the new iPad mini to communicate at up to twice the bandwidth: 300 MBps. The cellular-equipped versions of the new iPad mini also include expanded LTE capabilities, allowing them to work on more LTE networks around the world.
Apple has also upgraded the iPad mini's cameras slightly. Though the resolution of those cameras hasn't changed (5 megapixels for the rear camera, 1.2 megapixels for the front FaceTime HD camera), the company says the new iPad mini gains larger pixels and improved backside illumination sensors in order to take better low-light photos. In addition, the improved image-signal processing of the A7 processor should provide better overall camera performance.
(It's not yet clear how much RAM the new mini gets. Apple never publishes this particular spec, so we'll have to wait for the inevitable iPad mini teardowns. iFixit's teardown of the original iPad mini revealed 512MB of RAM.)
Apple says the new iPad mini with Retina Display offers the same 10-hour battery life as the original iPad mini. However, it appears that accomplishing this feat while adding the additional power drain of a Retina display required Apple to increase—ever so slightly—the size and weight of the new iPad mini. The new version is exactly the same height (200mm) and width (134.7) as the original, but it's a tiny big thicker (7.5mm compared to 7.2mm) and a little bit heavier: 331 grams versus 308 grams for the Wi-Fi model, and 341 grams versus 312 grams for the Wi-Fi + Cellular version.
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