Apple has revealed its new smaller tablet iPad Mini with a 7.9 inch screen that is set to blow away its rivals in the tablet market this Christmas.
The widely-anticipated 7.9 in (20.1 cm) iPad Mini, which is 7.2 mm thick and weighs 0.68 lbs, was announced at an event in San Jose, California.
The entry wi-fi-only model, with 16GB storage, will cost $415 and be available on 2 November.
The iPad Mini will compete directly with similar sized tablets from Google and Amazon.
Apple’s vice-president of marketing Phil Schiller told attendees that the device was 23% thinner and 53% lighter than the third-generation iPad, which was released in March this year.
The other wi-fi-only models will have a recommended retail price of $535 for 32GB and $660 for 64GB.
The devices with cellular capability will be released “a couple of weeks” after the wi-fi-only models, the company said. They will be priced at $568 for 16GB, $691 for 32GB and $815 for 64GB.
The firm also announced upgrades to its Macbook Pro, iMac and Mac Mini ranges of computers.
Its new iMac machines have been made 80% thinner than previous models, Phil Schiller said.
The full-sized iPad, which is just seven months old, was given its own lower-key upgrade. Calling it the “fourth generation” iPad, Phil Schiller said its new A6X chip meant it had twice the CPU power of the third-generation model.
Paddy Smith, online editor for Stuff.tv, said some Apple users could see the iPad upgrade as a “kick in the face” as it is such a new product.
“I think a lot of people will be upset to see a new full size iPad so soon,” he said.
“For many people that represents a pretty major purchase, something you wouldn’t want to do more than once a year.”
The iPad Mini launch ends years of speculation that Apple was considering launching a new, smaller version of its bestselling iPad range.
In 2010, late founder Steve Jobs described 7 in tablets as being “too small”.
However, Apple’s apparent change of heart comes in the face of mounting pressure from its closest competitors, who already offer smaller – and crucially, cheaper – products.
However, consultants IDC predict that the new device will boost Apple’s already dominant position in the tablet market.
It said that Apple will hold a 68% share of the market in 2012, compared to 29% for Android tablets.
Both will fall off slightly next year with the launch of Windows 8 tablets, IDC said.
Apple, ipad mini, tablet market