Apple’s online store was down this morning—usually a signal that some new products are on the way. And lo, Apple did not disappoint. Around 8:30 am EST, the store went back online and two new iPads appeared: the iPad Air and the new iPad mini.
Nuts and bolts first: The 10.5-inch iPad Air starts at $500 for the wifi only model ($630 for the cellular version). It has a Retina display, measures 6.1 mm thick, weighs in at just a pound, and features 10 hours of battery life. It also has an 8 megapixel back camera, a 7 megapixel HD selfie cam and is powered by Apple’s A12 Bionic chip. Apple claims that gives it a 70 percent boost in performance, and twice the graphics capability. Compared to what? Apple doesn’t say specifically, but probably previous iterations of the iPad.
Meanwhile, the 7.9-inch iPad mini gets a few upgrades. Namely, it now has Retina display, supports Apple Pencil, and is powered by the same A12 Bionic processor. It starts at $400 for the wifi only model and $530 for wifi plus cellular. According to Apple, adding Retina display makes the new mini the most pixel-dense of all its iPads, while the upgrade to the new chip gives it “three times the performance and nine times the graphics.”
It’s an interesting move to drop these two iPads just a week before Apple’s event on the 25th. After all—why not just drop these babies on the big stage? Possibly, as some have suggested on Twitter, it would distract from the news and streaming services Apple’s set to announce. In any case, both new iPads are available for order online starting today and will hit stores sometime next week. You know, in case you feel like having something new and shiny to stream Apple’s content on.