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Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) kicked off what is expected to be a bumper year for new product releases this morning, with two new iPads: a refresh of the iPad Mini and a new iPad Air. Here's everything you need to know about Apple's latest consumer tablets.
The Apple Store was offline for several hours this morning, fuelling speculation that the company was preparing to release new products. That turned out to be the case. When it was back online, there were two new iPad models, and one had been axed.
AAPL announced a 5th generation iPad Mini and a new iPad Air. What wasn't announced (but was quickly picked up by Apple observers) was the axing of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro , which was released in 2017. Both new iPad models are available to buy now online, and in Apple stores.
10.5-inch iPad Air
We've been expecting Apple to release new iPads in 2019, but the new iPad Air comes as a bit of a surprise. There had been rumors that Apple might release a 10.5-inch iPad, but it was generally expected to be a slightly larger upgrade to the existing, low-cost 9.7-inch iPad.
Instead, Apple announced a powerful tablet and resurrected the "Air" name. The new iPad Air is equipped with an A12 Bionic processor, 64GB storage, a 10.5-inch Retina display with True Tone and optional LTE. It also has support for the Apple Pencil stylus and Apple's Smart Keyboard.
The company is keeping the 9.7-inch iPad (A10 and $329 starting price) in the lineup as its low-cost option, but the $499 iPad Air replaces the 10.5-inch iPad Pro (which started at $649).
With an 11-inch iPad Pro i1n the lineup, the move makes sense. It offers consumers a bigger and more powerful iPad option that's still affordable, all while simplifying the iPad Pro lineup.
5th Generation iPad Mini
While many people had been expecting the iPad Mini to be discontinued, Apple delivered a refresh today that makes its smallest iPad a powerhouse.
It keeps the $399 starting price, but justifies the premium with a powerful new A12 Bionic processor and the addition of True Tone support to its Retina display. It also gets Apple Pencil stylus support. Apple says the new iPad Mini is up to three times faster than the previous generation iPad Mini 4.
This iPad is clearly aimed at power users who value portability, rather than someone looking for a small, inexpensive tablet like those offered by Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ).
Offering More Power for Consumers, While Keeping the iPad Pro
With the iPad Pro and then the 9.7-inch iPad, Apple helped kickstart its tablet sales, after years of decline . The new iPad Air and iPad Mini show the company is still trying to wring all the revenue possible from its consumer tablets by offering more powerful options while expanding to a range of display sizes. But AAPL is also being careful not to cannibalize iPad Pro sales, keeping features like USB-C connectivity, more advanced edge-to-edge Liquid Retina displays, 12MP cameras with 4K video and FaceID for its professional tablets.
Focus on Services for March 25 Apple Special Event
By quietly releasing the new iPad Air and iPad Mini just a week before its Mar. 25 special event , AAPL is sending a message that services are going to be front and center next week. The company has a lot riding on its new video streaming service and clearly didn't want the distraction of new iPads to detract from the big day.
Stay tuned to InvestorPlace for coverage of that special event next Monday afternoon.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securitie s.
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