New iPad Announcement: Apple introduces new iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina Display, new MacBook Pros and OSX Mavericks
A new name for a new iPad: The iPad Air
Maybe the biggest surprise was that Apple changed the name of the iPad to iPad Air in homage to its thinner and lighter status. The new iPad Air weighs just one pound; that’s just over a 30 percent reduction in weight from the 4th generation iPad, which weighed 1.44 pounds. In that regard the new iPad Air is going to be much easier to hold while reading, for instance, or just using in general. My son has an iPad 3 that I have been using and reading books on, and the one complaint that I have is that it gets tiresome to hold the iPad over time.
The Air nomenclature is appropriate because the iPad Air is only 7.5 mm thin (Apple’s description) which is almost a 15 percent reduction in thickness.
iPad mini with Retina Display
As expected, the new iPad mini comes with a Retina Display. This high-resolution display makes a good tablet great. You have to see a Retina Display in person to understand how nice it is and how much of a difference it makes when you’re using it.
The only weakness in the mini has been its display. Not that the current display is bad, just that the Retina Display makes everything from photos to videos to books so much better.
Improved features across the iPad line
Like the iPhone 5s introduced last month, the new iPads have Apple’s A7 chip. Now the iPads have 64-bit architecture, and desktop power on a mobile device. Keep in mind that this is a future looking feature. You’ll see more applications and games start to take advantage of this power and become even more productive.
They’ve also included the M7 coprocessor, which is focused on movement and motion.
The new iPads also have improved cameras (front and back), improved Wi-Fi that features MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas which Apple says doubles the performance. But it’s not using the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard but the old 802.11n. At least with MIMO, you’ll get the fastest “n” speed, and it is better than the iPad 4th gen model.
Apple has added dual microphones to the iPads, which should help with FaceTime and Skype calls, and should also help Siri understand your questions better.
Color-wise, the new iPads follow the iPhones offering White with Silver and Black with Space Grey. There isn’t a Champagne color option.
Battery life is the same at 10 hours for both models.
Surprisingly, but confirming the rumors, Apple decided NOT to include the iPhone 5s Touch ID fingerprint sensor feature. I think this is a missed opportunity for Apple since Touch ID is going to be a big feature going forward especially with regard to e-commerce and not just device security. Why did they leave it out? Beats me.
iPad availability and pricing
The new iPad Air will be available starting on November 1, while the iPad mini w/Retina Display won’t be available until later in November. Apple didn’t provide an exact date.
Pricing for the new iPads remain the same as the outgoing models. The iPad Air w/Wi-Fi will be $499, $599, $699 and $799 for 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models respectively. For an iPad Air w/Cellular the pricing is $629, $729, $829 and $929, for 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models respectively.
Curiously Apple will continue to offer the iPad 2 in a 16GB configuration for $399. This was a surprise since I expected Apple to discontinue the iPad 2 and make the iPad 3 or iPad 4 the base iPad for $399. But as I was listening to CNet’s coverage of the event, a caller who was the tech administer for a school district in California said that Apple was probably leaving the iPad 2 in the line for educators. Still, you would think that the iPad 3 would be a better iPad (performance wise), for the same price.
The iPad mini w/Retina Display with Wi-Fi will start at $399 with 16GB and will also be offered at $499, $599 and $699 for 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models respectively. The iPad mini w/Retina Display and Cellular starts at $599 with 16GB and goes to $629, $729 and $829 for 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models respectively.
The least expensive iPad in the entire iPad lineup will be the original iPad mini with 16GB, which will cost just $299, a $30 price drop.
New MacBook Pros
While computer sales continue to decline, Apple continues to improve its portable line with more and more features at lower prices.
Apple introduced two new MacBook Pros, 13-in and 15-in models that have improved processors, better graphic processing and greatly improved battery life. They are also thinner and lighter than previous models.
Like the MacBook Airs introduced earlier this year, the new 13-in MacBook Pros have Intel’s dual-core i5 Haswell processors, while the 15-in models have the quad-core i7 processors. Both models have improved Intel Iris Pro Graphics processors while in the 15-in model you can also add NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 750M processor with 2GB of GDDRS memory.
Apple has lowered the price of entry for these Pro models by $200. The base 13-in MacBook Pro w/Retina Display is just $1299 and the 15-in MacBook Pro w/Retina Display starts at just $1,999. Both models are available now.
Apple previewed its new Mac operating system, Mavericks earlier in the year. Today, they made two big announcements relative to Mavericks; first it is available for download today, and second, it’s a FREE download. This is the first major system upgrade that Apple has ever offered at no cost. More importantly, if you have an older Mac running OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard), you can still download Mavericks for free without having to upgrade to the other OSXs in between.
This is a big coup for Mac users and a nice benefit. While Apple has lowered the price for OSX upgrades in recent releases (Mountain Lion introduced in February 2012 was a $19.95 upgrade) making it free ensures a broad adoption.
A so-so event announcement
Overall, I was disappointed in the iPad event. I expected more from Apple with the new iPads. While I think the A7 and M7 chipset additions are great and important, Apple was much less enthusiastic about it for the iPads. Maybe it was because they spent so much time touting them for the iPhone 5s that they think they’ve covered the advantages already. But the exclusion of Touch ID is a mistake and potentially leaves Apple open to incursion from Android tablets like the Nexus 7 and 10.
In fact, I think Apple did a better job of introducing the new MacBook Pros, the Mac Pro and Mavericks. They clearly established them as category leaders with markedly improved performance and made them even more of a value by introducing lower pricing.
But I do think these new iPads are great models and once you get your hands on them and use them you’ll see a marked improvement in both performance and weight reduction.
Now the most important issue with the new iPads will be, will Apple have enough supply to meet the holiday shopping demand?