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Apple has updated the iPad Mini with new processors, improved screens and Pencil stylus support. Photograph: Apple

Apple has updated its long-in-the-tooth but popular smallest tablet, the iPad Mini, and the larger iPad Air.

Both models have been brought up to parity with the iPhone XS and the iPad Pro with Apple’s A12 Bionic processor, which is up to three times faster than that in previous versions, which have chips dating back to 2014.

The iPad Mini maintains its 7.9in screen and relatively compact design, which have proved popular with commuters. The iPad Air’s screen has been increased from 9.7in to 10.5in on the diagonal, making it larger than the standard, cheaper iPad launched in March 2018.

Both new iPads also keep the home button with Touch ID fingerprint reader, eschewing Apple’s newer Face ID face recognition system and swipe gestures, and the same basic design with large bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. They also keep the old Lightning port for charging, rather than adopting the cross-platform standard of USB-C as the iPad Pro did in October last year.

The LCD screens of the new iPads have been improved, however, including Apple’s True Tone colour and support for the P3 colour system, two features the basic iPad lacks.

The new iPad Mini and iPad Air both support Apple’s Pencil stylus, but only the old one charged via the Lightning port, not the newer inductive charging version launched with the new iPad Pro last year.

Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said: “Today the iPad family takes two big leaps forward with an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Air that brings high-end size, features and performance at a breakthrough price, and a major upgrade to the 7.9-inch iPad mini, which also brings Apple Pencil, Retina display and the A12 Bionic chip to the many customers that love its compact size.”

Both new tablets have 8-megapixel rear cameras and 7-megapixel front-facing cameras, and support Apple’s augmented reality platform. The iPad Air is also compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard accessory for turning it into a mobile laptop, similar to the more expensive iPad Pro models.


The new iPad Air with Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Pencil accessories. Photograph: Apple

The new iPads will be available in 64GB and 256GB storage versions with optional 4G connectivity. The iPad Mini starts at £399, making it more expensive than the standard iPad costing £319; the iPad Air starts at £479. Both models are available for order on Monday and will ship next week.

The launch of the new tablets comes before Apple’s media event next Monday in Cupertino, California, where the company is expected to unveil a series of new subscription services including TV streaming.

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