Roughly a month after Apple released the Wi-Fi-only versions of the iPad Mini and fourth generation iPad with Retina Display (a.k.a. “iPad 4”) in China, Apple is finally ready to sell the cellular-capable models of those tablets to customers in China.
Apple, which will release the LTE-friendly iPad Mini and iPad 4 in China starting this Friday, Jan. 18, announced the news on Tuesday in a press release.
The iPad 4 and iPad Mini will be sold at the same US price points, or the equivalent in yuan. In the US, Apple starts selling the basic iPad mini with Wi-Fi and cellular at $459, while the most basic iPad 4 with Wi-Fi and cellular starts at $629.
Apple did not list any official carriers for LTE-capable iPhones or iPads, but China Telecom and China Unicom are both expected to sell the new iPads, just as it did with the iPhone 5 last month. We are still waiting for official word from those companies.
Following a recent tradition in the country, Apple will again take reservation requests for the iPad 4 and iPad Mini a day before the official launch this Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time, for easy pick-up the next day.
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China, which is Apple’s second largest market, accounted for roughly $5.7 billion in revenue last quarter alone – roughly 16 percent of the pie. The release of these two iOS devices in the country will help boost Apple’s retail presence in the country, but recent reports have said Apple wants to make an even larger investment in China. Last Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook met and discussed “matters of cooperation” with Xi Guohua, the chairman of China Mobile, the largest telecommunications carrier in the world with 703 million active subscribers.
If Apple can strike a deal with China Mobile – perhaps ensuring all next-gen iPhones and iPads are built to accommodate the carrier’s high-speed TD-LTE network – Cupertino will be able to reach significantly more customers – and more importantly, their wallets – than ever before.
The release of the iPad Mini and iPad 4 may help sway China Mobile in its decision to work with Apple. The Wi-Fi-only iPad Mini was reportedly met with tepid demand, but the tablet has reportedly been a decent seller since its launch; with the newer devices releasing this week powered by cellular networks, China Mobile may see what it’s missing out on by not working with Apple.
About The iPad 4
The fourth-generation iPad is the fastest tablet Apple has built to-date.
While similar to the third-generation iPad with Retina Display released in March, the iPad 4 is faster than its predecessor in every single way.
With the all-new custom-built A6X chip, the iPad 4 has double the chip speed and graphics performance of the iPad 3's A5X chip, which was pretty impressive in its own right with a quad-core graphics processor. The A6X chip packs a lot of punch, which helps the iPad power its enhanced features in a quick and seamless way, including picture stabilization and face detection for both photo and video recording. The A6X, with all its power, is efficient enough to give owners 10 hours of solid "all-day" battery life.
If double the chip speed or graphics performance wasn't enough, the iPad 4 is makes significantly faster and stronger connections to Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of marketing, said iPad 4 owners will experience "ultrafast" Wi-Fi that doubles the connection speed of the older model, the iPad 3 -- and furthermore, for LTE customers, Apple has expanded the number of LTE frequencies supported by the iPad to include more carriers in Europe, Australia, and even here in the US, such as Sprint-Nextel.
iPad fans will only notice a few noticeable differences in the outer appearance of the iPad 4 versus previous iPads, including the smaller 8-pin Lightning connector on the bottom of the tablet.
Apple starts selling the new iPad 4 at $499 for Wi-Fi only and $629 for LTE-capable models. Check out this article if you want to see what critics had to say about the iPad 4 (spoiler: it's mostly positive).
About The iPad Mini
The iPad Mini, launched Nov. 2, features the same non-Retina resolution as the iPad 2 (1024 x 768), weighs just 0.68 pounds -- as light as a notepad -- and measures just 7.2 mm thick -- roughly the thinness of a pencil.
The iPad Mini is powered by Apple’s dual-core A5 chip, which was “fast” in 2011 but sluggish now compared to the A5X chip, A6 chip and all-new A6X chip introduced over the past year. The iPad Mini doesn’t need a lot of power to function -- the iPad 2 manages just fine with the A5 chip -- but the specs of the iPad 2 simply don’t compare to where technology is currently.
Besides the difference in size, the iPad Mini can do everything a full-sized iPad can do. It still runs on iOS 6, Apple's latest mobile operating system, and is compatible with the new Lightning dock connector. However, even though Apple sells "cellular" models of the iPad Mini, this new smaller tablet does not support the high-speed LTE network.
For the Wi-Fi-only iPad Mini, Apple sells 16GB models for $329, 32GB for $429 and 64GB for $529. For iPad Minis that work on both Wi-Fi and cellular frequencies, Apple sells those models separately at $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32GB and $659 for 64GB.