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Apple unveiled Tuesday a new, smaller iPad, confirming months of speculation that the tech giant was readying a more compact tablet to combat Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.
The company also took the wraps off a new full-sized "fourth-generation" iPad, just seven months after the launch of its third-generation model this March.
The smaller of the two new iPads, fittingly dubbed the iPad mini, touts a 7.9-inch display, down-sized from the 9.5-inch design native to Apple's new fourth- and all prior-generation tablets. As expected, the iPad mini also has a lower screen resolution compared to its four larger counterparts, with a 1,024-by-768 pixel count.
The iPad mini, which will come to market on Nov. 2, will be available in three separate, Wi-Fi-enabled models, including a 16-GB version for $329, a 32-GB version for $429 and a 64-GB version for $529. Wi-Fi models equipped with both Wi-Fi and cellular support will start at $459.
According to Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, the iPad mini was designed to be smaller, without sacrificing much of the functionality users have come to expect from Apple's full-sized tablets.
"Now this just isn’t a shrunken down iPad," Schiller told audience members during the launch event introducing the new device Tuesday. "It's an entirely new design."
The new 7.9-inch tablet comes in what Apple has dubbed "a beautiful new aluminum and glass design" that weighs in at just 0.68 pounds and measures 0.28 inches thick. According to Schiller, the iPad mini delivers nearly 35-percent more screen real estate than competing 7-inch tablets, which he said have "failed miserably" by compromising performance and functionality in their design of these smaller devices. Schiller also argued that competing 7-inch tablets simply use smartphone apps that are force-fit for a larger display, while the new iPad mini maintains compatibility with the full suite of tablet apps available for the company's full-size iPads.
On the inside, the new iPad Mini runs a dual-core Apple A5 chip and gets 10 hours of battery life. Schiller said a front-facing FaceTime HD camera and a 5-megapixel iSight rear-facing camera are also included in the new device.
As Apple's debut device in the 7-inch tablet market, the new iPad mini will be tasked with playing catch-up with market leaders Amazon and Google, something U.K.-based analysts Ovum noted is rare for the tech giant, which currently accounts for a whopping 70 percent of the full-sized tablet market.
"[The iPad mini] marks a significant shift in Apple’s strategy. For the first time in its recent history it is responding to market pressures from its competitors, namely Google and Amazon in bringing a smaller tablet to market," Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum, wrote in a research note Tuesday. "Apple in the past has defined new products with new form factors and waited for the market to follow, in this instance Apple is following the market trend towards smaller cheaper tablet form-factors."