‘Much faster’ iPad Mini debuts with 5G

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Apple has given its smallest iPad its biggest upgrade to date, giving users the power of iPad in its most portable form.

So said Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at the launch event today. This, he said, makes it indispensable for a wide range of uses, such as when it's secured to the leg of a pilot in flight, or to a doctor's lab coat to care for patients in the ER.

Introducing the new device, Katie McDonald, iPad product marketing manager at Apple, said it has been given a huge set of updates, and complete redesign that puts everything Apple users love about iPad into the palm of their hands.

The new casing features narrow borders and rounded corners, and is both thin and light. It is available in purple, pink and grey, and features a Liquid Retina display.

The new iPad mini is bigger than its predecessor, at 8.3-inches, although it maintains the same compact footprint. McDonald said it features wide colour, True Tone 500 nits of brightness and the lowest reflectivity in the industry.

“Delivering this edge-to-edge screen meant finding a new location for Touch ID,” added McDonald. “Just like iPad Air, we put it in the top button of iPad Mini.”

She said iPad Mini is the fastest device of its kind, and the performance of the new version is remarkable compared to the previous generation, with a 40% jump in CPU performance, and an 80% leap in GPU performance.

“The neural engine for machine learning applications also takes a big leap forward on the new Mini, increasing performance by up to two times over the previous generation. Combined with the CPU and the GPU, the neural engine enables apps to deliver experiences such as the new Translate app in iPad OS15, which can automatically translate a conversation in real-time.”

The device added a USB C port, giving the same functionality that Apple recently brought to iPad Air, and making it up to 10 times faster than its predecessor.

“iPad Mini can now connect to a vast ecosystem of USB C accessories, which is great for photographers needing to connect to cameras when shooting on location, or doctors in a remote area using the Butterfly app to conduct an ultrasound. When users are on the go, it's crucial to have access to the fastest cellular connections.”

McDonald said this is why the company brought 5G to iPad Mini, enabling download speeds of up to 3.5Gbps.

In terms of the canvas and audio, she said users depend on iPad Mini for FaceTime, taking photos and videos, and experiencing AR. “We've updated both the front and back cameras. The back camera now features a 12-megapixel sensor with focus pixels, and a larger aperture to capture vivid photos.”

It also has the ability to record in 4K, becoming what she called a mobile movie studio on the run. The new ultra-wide camera means it also now supports Center Stage, a first for the iPad Mini. It also includes a new speaker system with stereo in landscape.

Center Stage employs machine-learning technology to pan and zoom in a camera's field of view to get the perfect shot during a video call. It can zoom in on a single subject, or zoom out to find everyone in the frame.

Finally, the new iPad Mini supports the Apple Pencil, which magnetically attaches to the side of the device, so it's always connected, charged and with the user, transforming the iPad Mini into a digital sketchbook.

The new Mini starts at $499, going up if 5G is added, and goes on sale next week.

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