The adorable-yet-imperfect iPad Mini has been available since Nov. 2, but Apple has still yet to deliver the first batch of online orders of a cellular-capable model of this device or sell it through its retail stores. That will reportedly change tomorrow when Apple and AT&T start selling this special model through their retail stores, but a few happy customers actually received their orders a day early.
According to MacRumors, U.S. customers told the Apple news site that they received shipping notices from FedEx for their cellular-friendly iPad Minis a few days ago. While some customers said their notices listed deliveries for Friday and others said their cellular-capable iPad Minis wouldn't arrive until Wednesday of next week, a handful of lucky customers reported scheduled deliveries early this morning, offering photographic proof of their delivery slips and the iPads themselves to show off what Apple Stores won't even start selling until tomorrow.
"Arrived about 9:53 a.m. this morning been playing with it and setting it up since that time," said MacRumors member "in2tech." "It's resting now being fully charged. I'll be tracking flights tonight from China! Here's wishing very one good luck for tomorrow."
Any customers that ordered the devices online within the first day or so should expect their orders to arrive today or tomorrow, but for others who haven't prepurchased the device online but are still interested in owning an LTE-friendly iPad Mini, Apple will reportedly start selling those models (as well as LTE iPad 4's) through their retail stores tomorrow as well.
AT&T said on Nov. 8 that it also sell LTE versions of the iPad Mini and iPad 4 in its retail stores on Friday as well, offering a $100 discount for anyone willing to sign up for a two-year data plan, which also includes a $10 per month "Mobile Share" add-on for tablets.
The iPad Mini, the first Apple-branded tablet with a screen smaller than 9.7 inches, is actually very similar to Apple's 2011 tablet, the iPad 2. The similarities between the tablets include the processor, Apple's dual-core A5 chip, and the pixels, which is the same non-Retina 1024 x 768 resolution. Otherwise, the iPad Mini runs on the same operating system as the iPad 4 and iPhone 5 -- iOS 6 -- and is connected to power with the new 8-pin Lighting dock connector.
Though we originally believed Apple would not feature LTE in this current-generation iPad Mini, Apple surprised us by squeezing several LTE bands into the device, which means the iPad Mini will be able to deliver high-speed speed Internet access without a wireless connection.
But besides all the features and goodies the iPad Mini has to offer, its best asset by far is its portability. The iPad Mini weighs just 0.68 pounds -- roughly as light as a paper notepad -- and measures just 7.2 mm thick, which is about the thinness of a pencil.
Apple currently sells the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad Mini at $329, but the cellular and LTE models of the iPad Mini, which go on sale tomorrow to coincide with the first batch of deliveries, start selling at $459 for 16GB of storage. Apple also sells LTE-friendly iPad Minis at $559 for 32GB and $659 for 64GB.
The iPad Mini comes in two color combos: black and slate, and white and silver. The best chance to buy any model of iPad Mini will be to visit an Apple Store tomorrow: While the first online customers will receive their orders tomorrow, new orders for the device are currently listed to ship in two weeks.