This weekend may belong to the new iPad Air, but later this month, the iPad Air will play second fiddle to the new iPad mini with Retina display, which is the second-generation iPad mini from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) that’s been upgraded with new processors and a stunning new display.
In my review of last year’s first-generation iPad mini, I bemoaned how its lack of a Retina made it not worth its price, despite its other quality features. Though many of you didn’t listen to me and bought an iPad mini anyway, everyone’s a winner in 2013 now that the iPad mini has finally been fitted with a Retina display; even better, it’s been fitted with the same processors as the iPad Air, which puts both tablets on a level playing field for consumers. On the flip side, these new technologies forced Apple to raise the starting price of the Retina iPad mini from $329 to $399, while the non-Retina iPad mini is now $299, down from $329.
At its Oct. 22 media event, Apple announced the release date of the iPad Air, but only said the iPad mini with Retina display would arrive “in late November.” Since that event, many have wondered when the iPad mini will release, especially since Apple is reportedly experiencing display yield issues with its supply chains and has been forced to turn to its rivals at Samsung to help produce additional Retina displays. But despite these issues with manufacturing the Retina iPad mini, it seems likely Apple will release the new iPad mini on Friday, Nov. 22. Here’s a few reasons why.
1. Apple is shut down through Thanksgiving weekend. Apple always likes to release new iOS devices on Fridays, but truly don’t believe Apple will release the iPad mini the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29 (Black Friday). In late September, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an email to all employees thanking them for their work, and announced it “will shut down with pay on November 25, 26, and 27 so our teams can have the whole week off.” Cook said retail, AppleCare and “a few other teams will need to work that week so we can continue to serve our customers,” but we believe the company would have more than just a few teams available for the release of a major iOS device.
2. Hanukkah. This year, Hanukkah starts the evening of Nov. 27 and ends the evening of Dec. 5, which is unique because Hanukkah and Thanksgiving almost never fall during the same week. With more than 6 million Jews in the U.S., we believe Apple will release the Retina iPad mini late in the month, allowing time to accommodate its supply-chain issues, but ahead of the all-important holiday weekend, which would give consumers ample time to buy the new mini tablet as a gift before Hanukkah begins on Wednesday, Thanksgiving on Thursday, and obviously Black Friday.
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3. Black Friday. Ah yes, the biggest shopping day of the year. Black Friday falls on Nov. 29 this year, but if Apple opts to release the Retina iPad mini on that date, the last business day in the month, Apple may find itself overextended. Apple almost always announces discounts on its computers and devices for Black Friday, so the possibility of consumers purchasing a discounted, brand-new Retina iPad mini might spark a level of demand that many Apple Stores can't handle, especially given the supply constraints. And again, with the company-wide shutdown that week, it seems unlikely Apple would be happy inciting riots within its stores and the big-box retailers that sell Apple products, such as Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart. If Apple chooses to release the Retina iPad mini on Nov. 22, it will get the best of both worlds -- remaining devices will still be available on Black Friday, but for those customers that don’t like leaving their families to get trampled by greedy strangers, they can stand in line to buy one a week prior.
A product listing at Target.com says it will release the iPad mini with Retina display on Thursday, Nov. 21, which is possible, but we still believe Apple will opt to release its new tablet the next day, a Friday, as it has done in the past.
About The iPad Mini With Retina Display
The second-generation iPad mini features the same form factor as its predecessor but now has double the pixel resolution thanks to its new Retina display, in which the individual pixels on the screen can't be discerned with the naked eye; in fact, the new iPad mini will release with the same number of pixels as the new iPad Air thanks to its 2048 x 1536 resolution, but release with a higher pixel density at 326 ppi.
Apple also upgraded a number of internals within the Retina iPad mini. The first-generation iPad mini ran on a dual-core A5 chip, but the 2013 iPad mini with Retina display will release with an A7 chip and M7 motion co-processor, which are the same chips from this year's iPhone 5s release and the same chips that run the larger iPad Air. These new internals add up, and the Retina iPad mini is a bit heavier than the first iPad mini (331 grams versus 308 grams, respectively), and also a bit thicker, too (7.5mm vs 7.2mm); however, these minor differences will be hard to notice unless you own a first-yen iPad mini. The Retina iPad mini will also release with iOS 7 built-in, and will release in two color options: white and silver, and black and space grey.
The price of the iPad mini with Retina display starts at $399 and $529 for Wi-Fi only and cellular, respectively, while the first-generation iPad mini will now release at a lower $299 price point. And in terms of the tablet's release date, we still believe the Retina iPad mini will release on Nov. 22, for the aforementioned reasons above.
What do you think of the new Retina iPad mini? Do you prefer the smaller form factor, or are you a bigger fan of the iPad Air? Sound off in the comments section below.