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Apple's iPad mini officially announced

Apple's iPad mini officially announced

Shocking approximately nobody, Apple has announced its smaller iPad now officially known as the iPad mini.

Sporting a new design, the iPad mini is just 7.2mm think, a quarter of the new iPad, and weighs just 308g, and the big news it that it packs a 7.9-inch, 1,024 x 768 screen - the same resolution as the iPad 2.

Apple were keen to stress that the iPad mini has a 35 percent larger display over the top Android tablet (Nexus 7), and allows users to see 49 percent more web content on screen.

The screen's resolution also means that the 275,000 iPad-specific apps will run seamlessly on the iPad Mini.

'Every inch an iPad'

Inside you get a dual-core A5 processor, HD FaceTime camera, 5MP rear-facing iSight camera with 1080p video recording, 4G LTE support, dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Lightning dock connector and 10 hours of battery life.

Price wise, the iPad mini kicks off at 16GB with WiFi, priced at $US329/£269/AUD$369.

iPad mini pre-orders open this Friday, Oct. 26, and the iPad mini release date is set for Nov. 2 for the Wi-Fi only versions. The 4G cellular models will arrive around two weeks later, first in the U.S. then around the world.

The launch event is continuing as we speak – more as we get it, and stay tuned for our first impressions in our hands on iPad mini review.

Updated: iPad 4 release date, news and features

Updated: iPad 4 release date, news and features

iPad 4 release date, news and features

The new iPad 3 has been out for about six months, but there were murmurs surrounding the 4th gen iPad release almost as soon as it was announced.

Details were thin on the ground regarding iPad 4 specifications and features, but this hasn't stopped new iPad rumours cropping up from various sources.

And then at the iPad mini launch event on 23 October, Apple also announced the 4th gen iPad.

The 4th gen iPad features an A6X processor that "doubles the performance of CPU tasks," has a battery that lasts up to 10 hours, plus an updated 720p FaceTime camera.

It will also feature the new Lightning connector found with the iPhone 5.

Below are the iPad 4 rumours that we reported on leading up to the 4th gen iPad announcement.

iPad 4 release date: October 2012

There have been reports that Apple will launch two new tablets during 2012: the iPad 3 in March, which turned out to be the new iPad, and then the iPad 4 in October.

The news came via Digitimes which says this information was confirmed by a Taiwanese component manufacturer. The source goes on to say that the iPad 4 will come with killer applications and beefed up hardware to take on various tablets scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2012.

iPad 4 release date: March 2013

That said, Apple does like its uniform, annual releases so don't be surprised if we the iPad 4 release date is actually March 2013, 12 months from the launch of the new iPad.

This release schedule would give the new iPad time to flourish in the market and then slowly move out of the spotlight come Christmas as various Windows and Android powered tablets are released.

This "down-time" for Apple will fuel frenzied iPad 4 rumours as fans start dreaming about what the next generation could offer, culminating in another super-hyped event next March.

iPad 4 features

Little is known about the features and specifications for the new iPad, but sources quoted by iLounge claim it'll be a modest upgrade, with a slimmer body, smaller dock connector and internal improvements to reduce the heat which is produced by the third-gen new iPad.

A rumour that we reported on 26 September 2012 claims that the iPad 4 will feature a wider 16:9 screen (the current iPad is 4:3). Industry analyst Paul Mueller told the Examiner: "I have talked to at least three people close to Apple who say that there are new iPad prototypes that have a 16:9 aspect ratio."

The launch of the iPhone 5 provides us with some juicy clues of what we might see in the new iPad. It'll need a different dock, as the iPad 4 is likely to feature the Lightning connector that made its first appearance in the iPhone 5, it'll have a better battery, a better screen and feature 4G connectivity. A Guardian report on 9 October claimed that the 4G iPad 4 would initially run on Everything Everywhere's 4G network.

Is the iPad 4 the iPad Mini?

There is speculation that Apple's next tablet could in fact be the iPad Mini.

Currently Apple's new iPad dominates the high-end tablet market, leaving the likes of the Amazon Kindle Fire and budget Android devices to swoop in and meet the needs of the more frugal shopper.

It's thought that Apple won't want to miss out on this low-end market, which has led to rumours that we may see the iPad Mini break cover in October - possibly sporting an 8-inch or 7.85-inch screen and sub £200 price tag.

Those rumours that the iPad 4 will be the iPad Mini gathered pace on 4 July 2012, with fresh reports from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal claiming that the iPad Mini would launch before the end of 2012.

On 31 July, sources quoted by iLounge claimed that the iPad Mini would launch in November with its own debut event, rather than fighting for attention with the iPhone 5.

On 9 July, we reported that Japanese blog Macotakara had cited an unknown source, claiming the new iPad Mini would be a very svelte 7.2mm thick, and come with 3G functionality, with production starting in September, and on 5 August, some supposed iPad Mini case pictures appeared on Chinese blog Sina Weibo.

As of 12 October, speculation pointed to an iPad Mini launch event taking place on 23 October 2012, while on 16 October invites were sent out by Apple confirming the 23 October event.

For the latest on the iPad Mini, check out our iPad Mini rumour roundup.

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iPad 4 price

The same report from Macotakara said that the iPad 4 price (assuming that the iPad 4 is the iPad Mini) would be in the region of $250-$350 (around £160-£230).

On 16 July, we reported that the The New York Times, which claimed to have spoken to sources "with knowledge of the project", put the iPad Mini price at "significantly less" than the new iPad, which starts at £399. The same report put the iPad Mini screen size at 7.85 inches, a size rumoured by Digitimes back in March.

Two new iPads

In summary, current rumours suggest that we're looking at the iPad Mini in October/November for $250-$350 (£160-£230), and the next full size iPad 4 in March 2013, with a price comparable to the new iPad that's on sale now.

As we gather and analyse more rumours, we've also put together our iPad 4 wishlist...

iPad 4: what we want to see

By Craig Grannell

While we're waiting for new rumours to roll in, we figured it's time to start complaining about the current iPad and outline our demands for the iPad 4.

Despite essentially being a metal-backed pane of glass with a few buttons, a massive battery and a smallish circuit board, we've hardware-oriented wishes for Apple's next-generation device, which we're assuming is probably also going to be called 'the new iPad', or 'the new, new iPad' or perhaps Apple will return to numbering its tablets and we'll get an iPad 4.

1. Thinner, lighter, faster!

The new iPad is (very) slightly thicker than the previous one (although not the original iPad) and (very) slightly heavier. Through a combination of amazing engineering, technical breakthroughs and unicorn tears, we're dreaming of an iPad 4 that would be as light as a Kindle and as thin as something thinner than an iPad 2; we'd also like the iPad 4 to be faster, because we're demanding like that.

2. More storage

The new iPad has a Retina display, providing the potential for pin-sharp graphics, like those on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, but over a much bigger area.

This comes at a cost: app file sizes. For example, the revamped GarageBand is a few hundred MB larger than the previous version. Yet iPads remain available only in 16, 32 and 64GB configurations. Would 128GB in the iPad 4 be too much to ask for?

3. Thunderbolt support

Apple's shift to wireless sync has removed one major reason for Thunderbolt, but rumours still abound about the high-speed I/O tech coming to iOS, providing compatibility with a new generation of peripherals. Adaptors could be released for legacy kit, further boosting Apple's coffers.

4. Better keyboard support

Steve Jobs hated the idea of a touchscreen computer, because it's an ergonomic nightmare that rapidly makes an outstretched arm shriek with pain. But this is what an iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard turns into.

To fix this, Apple would just need to make some extra keyboard commands baked into iOS, for example to enable app switching.

5. A truly magical screen

A Retina display? How 2010! What about haptic feedback? OK, so we didn't seriously invest in those rumours, and a 'morphing' screen gives us T1000 nightmares, but it could be useful for feedback when typing and playing games on the iPad 4. And while Apple's at it, a better oleophobic coating that eradicates fingerprints would be lovely.

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6. A smarter Smart Cover

The Smart Cover, or Mr Flappy as we call ours, needs to be smarter. It looks very swish and clever when the iPad wakes. It's also a reasonably good stand. But it's rubbish when you're holding an iPad and the cover's swinging about and then falls to the floor in comedy slapstick style.

7. Battery and charging improvements

Ten hours of usage from the new iPad is impressive, but that's a best-case scenario. Play some games or watch video and that figure will fall. Apple's hampered by technology, but in a year, who knows? An iPad 4 that lasts for a day on a single charge? Wireless charging? We can dream.

8. Improved speakers

If you want a reality check about the quality of the iPad's speaker, use an iPod touch for approximately ten seconds. The iPad will sound like a Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin by comparison. But with so many great music, gaming and video apps, better speakers - More power! Stereo! - is nonetheless something we'd love to see (well, hear) on the iPad 4.

9. Near field communication

We're not suggesting Apple should add near field communication (NFC) to the iPad so you can wave it around like a massive glass-and-aluminium wallet. But NFC would enable iPads to be more commonly used for taking payments, and NFC across iOS devices as a whole could provide a boost to this emergent technology.

New iPad

10. The same form factor (ish)

'Thinner and lighter' was our first wish, but we don't want 'smaller'. A 7-inch iPad? No thanks. iPad apps are designed for a ten-inch screen, and we're sure Apple doesn't want the box to include iMicroscope and iFileDownYourFingertips.

Similarly, people seem obsessed with binning the bezel, but we like it; the bezel enables you to hold your device without accidental touchscreen presses and without covering on-screen content. One of the iPad's greatest aspects has been strong usability, and we'd hate to see anything compromise that.

iPad mini pricing starts at $329

iPad mini pricing starts at $329

We can all sleep a little more soundly knowing the iPad mini wasn't an elaborate hoax concocted by Apple, and the pricing is just about where everyone thought it would be.

Ok, maybe a little steeper.

Multiple versions of the device exist, but the basic delineation is between Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi plus cellular.

For the Wi-Fi only models, Apple's priced the 16GB version at $329, 32GB for $429 and 64GB at $529.

Add cellular and the 16GB jumps to $459, 32GB to $559 and 64GB sits at $659.

Arrival time?

Usual Apple cohorts AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are naturally going to carry the mini over the companies' respective 4G cellular networks.

Pre-orders for the 7.9-inch device starts Friday and with a release date for the Wi-Fi only versions set for Nov. 2.

The 4G versions hit the streets two weeks later.