Apple has unveiled the iPad Mini with Retina Display (iPad Mini RD), its successor to the 7-inch tablet in its family of iPad Mini products. While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that were rumoured to be coming, there are significant improvements to the initial device, launched last year.
The namesake and most significant change to the The new Retina display, the same high-quality display found on the 10-inch iPad 5, was a needed upgrade to help it compete with other 7-inch tablets on the market. The Nexus 7’s 2013 model and the Kindle Fire HDX 7 both have 1920x1200 pixel displays, which left the old iPad Mini’s 1024x768 display in the dust. As ZDNet argued, its old resolution just isn’t good enough to compete in the market at the end of 2013, and an update was needed to stay competitive. Not wanting to just meet those expectations, Apple exceeded by giving the iPad Mini RD a 2048x1536 display.
Faster Inside, Heavier Outside
As for where the rest of the effort on the iPad Mini RD went, it’s all inside. The processor has been improved from an A5 chip to the A7, which has helped improve efficiency. According to Apple’s presentation, the device has eight times faster graphics and four times faster processing overall. The efficiency boost has also helped reduce the size of the battery – but the overall weight of the iPad Mini with Retina Display is more than the iPad Mini. The Wi-Fi-only unit weighs 0.73 lbs (up from 0.68 lbs) and the Wi-FI+Cellular model weighs 0.75 lbs (up from 0.69).
You should notice an improvement when on Wi-Fi networks and using LTE, as the wireless capabilities of the iPad Mini RD have been boosted by using two antennas instead of just one. Like the iPad Air, it also takes advantage of MIMO technology and supports more LTE bands than the prior model.
What’s hasn’t changed?
There are a few items that are notably absent from the iPad Mini with Retina Display, making it only a small leap forward from the iPad Mini, at least if you’re interested in lots of features rather than straight-up hardware improvements. There’s no Touch ID on either the iPad Mini RD or the iPad Air, it’s not available in Gold (just Silver/White and Space Grey/Black, like its predecessor), and the overall appearance of the new iPad Mini RD is almost identical to the iPad Mini.
The screen stays at 7.9 inches (although you’ll still notice an improvement with the new Retina Display), base storage remains the same at 16GB (although you can now get 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models, too), and the cameras remain the same as well, with a FaceTime HD camera that can take 1.2MP photos, and an iSight camera capable of taking 5MP photos.
Along with new specs comes a new price tag for the older model of iPad, we’ve got a newly-announced price for the iPad Mini with Retina Display: an original iPad Mini starts at $319 CAD for the 16GB Wi-Fi version, while the Retina model starts at $419 CAD for a 16GB, Wi-Fi only.
Cover and Case
It may disappoint some people that there are no built-in keyboards, but at the very least, the iPad Mini now has a cover and a case. The plastic cover will cost $39, while the leather case (which covers the front and back) for the iPad Mini will cost $69.
Before you go running out to buy one as a stocking stuffer, however, you should know that there are already rumours of delays. Reuters reports that Apple is only just beginning to make the iPad Mini RD, so supplies will likely be limited for the rest of 2013, according to sources.
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