Apple announces new iPad Air and iPad mini with A12 Bionic, Pencil support, and more

It's been rumored since October, and they're finally here. Apple today announced a new iPad mini and a new iPad Air, both of which include the A12 Bionic chipset.

The new iPad Air upgrades the display from 9.7 inches to 10.5 inches, and it sits beside the current iPad in the lineup, rather than replacing it. There are now four different lines of iPads, with the iPad at the entry level, the iPad Air and mini in the mid-range, and the iPad Pro for premium.

iPad mini

Visually, the new iPad mini is identical to the iPad mini 4, which is three and a half years old. That device had an A8 processor, the same that could be found in the iPhone 6. The new iPad mini's A12 Bionic has massive performance improvements, and it also adds support for the Apple Pencil.

Presumably, the new iPad Air is a successor to the iPad Air 2, although the branding here really doesn't make a lot of sense. If that's the case though, it's also replacing an A8 processor. While the entry level iPad already supports the Apple Pencil, the new iPad Air has Pencil and Smart Keyboard support, so this is really a valid replacement for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro that came out in mid-2017.

“iPad continues to provide magical new experiences for a growing range of uses where it is the absolute best device, from playing games in augmented reality to note-taking and drawing with Apple Pencil, from streaming HD movies and editing 4K films to learning to develop apps with Swift Playgrounds,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Today the iPad family takes two big leaps forward with an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Air that brings high-end size, features and performance at a breakthrough price, and a major upgrade to the 7.9-inch iPad mini, which also brings Apple Pencil, Retina display and the A12 Bionic chip to the many customers that love its compact size.”

Naturally, they both bring support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, which plugs into the Lightning port. The newer Apple Pencil wirelessly charges off the side of the new iPad Pro models.

The iPad mini sports a 7.9-inch display with a 2048x1536 resolution for a 326ppi pixel density. It sports an eight-megapixel camera for 1080p video recording, along with a seven-megapixel front camera, with 1080p video recording at 30fps. Of course, it still has Touch ID, rather than the newer Face ID. The new iPad Air is very much the same, except the display is 10.5 inches and 2224x1668, for a 264ppi pixel density.

What's particularly interesting about this announcement is that Apple is still holding an event in a week. With its hardware announcements out of the way, it seems that the company is actually going to focus on services, something that's new for Apple.

Both devices come in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold, in Wi-Fi only and cellular variants, and 64GB and 256GB configurations. The new iPad mini starts at $399 while the new iPad Air starts at $499.

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