Apple Announces iPad 4th Generation

You thought you were getting an iPad Mini? How about an iPad 4?

As with most of their media events, Apple began the announcement with a brag list that included the number of iOS 6.0 installs (200 million), the number of apps in the App Store (700,000) and the number of apps designed specifically for the iPad (275,000). But then Apple decided on a little bit of a curve bar by skipping any talk of an iPad Mini and jumping into the new Mac lineup, which includes upgrades to the MacBook Pro, Mac Mini and iMac.
When they finally switched to the iPad, they gave similar stats to start out. The iPad has now sold 100 million units and is in 2,500 classrooms. But instead of switching straight to the iPad Mini, they began with the 4th generation iPad. The new iPad has an A6X, Extended LTE and the new Lightning connector. The new iPad is roughly twice as fast as the 3rd generation iPad and still delivers the same 10 hours of battery life.
And then with a flip of the new iPad, Apple revealed the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini is 7.9 inches diagonally with a smaller edge than the full-sized iPad and weighing roughly the same as a pad of paper. As expected, the iPad Mini has a 1024x768 display, the same as the original iPad and the iPad 2.
The bad news: the iPad Mini will start at $329 for the 16 GB memory Wi-Fi only model. Apple did a great job of comparing the iPad experience to the Android experience, noting how many Android apps are simply smartphone apps blown up to a bigger display, but many consumers may find it tough to pay $130 more for the iPad Mini compared to buying a $199 Amazon Kindle Fire HD or Google Nexus 7.
Here are some other details about the iPad Mini:
  • The 7.9 inch display has 29.6 square inches of real estate compared to the 21.9 inches in a 7-inch display.
  • The iPad Mini is 49% larger in portrait and 67% larger in landscape than 7-inch tablets.
  • Dual core A5 chip
  • Front and back facing iSight 5MP cameras
  • LTE wireless for 4G speeds
  • Lightning connector
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Weighs .68 pounds
Well, the day finally arrived, the iPad Mini is here and I daresay that Apple did not disappoint. Not only did they finally debut the much-rumored and much-anticipated iPad Mini, but also a whole slew of Mac upgrades. And if that wasn't enough, they also released an upgrade to the 7-month-old iPad 3. Here are a few interesting things I took away from the announcement:
  • The iPad 4. The big surprise of the day was the announcement of the 4th generation iPad. There were rumors that Apple planned to introduce a new slightly-tweaked 10-inch iPad that would include better power efficiency and expanded 4G LTE connectivity, but Apple also pumped up the processing power by including a new A6X processor. This makes the newest iPad twice as fast as the iPad 3. It will also include Apple's new Lightning connector.
    I think these upgrades amount to some features they wanted to get into the iPad 3 but simply didn't have the time to implement them. But the big thing I took away from the announcement was that the next major upgrade to the iPad won't come until Fall of 2013 at the very earliest. Certainly, we won't be getting a new iPad in next Spring.
  • iPad vs Android: The App War. I thought they did a fantastic job of highlighting the big advantage of the iPad Mini over other 7-inch tablets. The vast, vast majority of iPad apps will run on the iPad Mini as if they were designed specifically for the device. The same aspect ratio (4:3) and screen resolution of older models (1024x768) makes this compatibility pretty easy.
    Meanwhile, 7-inch Android tablets do suffer apps behaving more like a smartphone app than a true tablet app. Certainly, Apple didn't go out of their way to display apps that work great on the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7. Netflix runs pretty good on my (first generation) Kindle Fire. But lets face it: the apps are the biggest feature of the iPad Mini.
  • 35% more screen space. A lot of people will put the emphasis on the $329 price tag, which is significantly more expensive than the entry level offerings by Amazon and Google. But I thought Apple did a good job of highlight the greater real estate offered by that extra .9 inch. Simply put, there's more tablet available on the iPad Mini.
  • The price tag. Speaking of that price, while it may come off as expensive compared to the $199 tablets, it may prove to be a benefit in the long run. I think we should all expect the iPad Mini 2 to debut next year with a Retina Display as part of the upgrade, something that may not have been possible had Apple lowered their cost margins and gone for a $249 price point.

For some, the iPad 2 has been a great way to jump onto the iPad train while saving $100 off the normal entry price. And even with the debut of the iPad 4 and iPad Mini, Apple will keep producing the iPad 2 and leveraging it in the $399 spot between those two devices. But that doesn't make it a good purchase.
Should You Buy an iPad Mini?
The introduction of the iPad 4 means discounts for the iPad 3. Not only do stores need to clear out their old stock -- and who would pay full price for an iPad 3 with the iPad 4 out? -- but used retailers will see an influx of iPad 3 tablets as some users sell the device to get the latest and greatest.
In fact, Apple is already selling refurbished iPad 3 16 GB Wi-Fi models for $379, which is cheaper than the iPad 2. So if you don't mind buying a refurbished tablet -- and Apple offers a 1-year warranty on their refurbished iPads -- you can get a better tablet for less.