Apple downsizes in fight for mini-tablet market


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The Independent Online

Fancy an iPad but find it just too big and heavy? Apple has an alternative. Mind you, so does Google. And Amazon. Last night in San Jose, California, Apple's CEO Tim Cook, in supremely relaxed form, announced its latest tablet computer, the iPad mini. It's designed to look like a smaller version of the triumphant iPad. It is also designed to snatch sales away from Apple's rivals.

When the original iPad launched in spring 2010 it created a new category of electronic device. Though touchscreen laptops had existed before, none was successful. Apple created a perfect storm of desirable aluminium-and-glass hardware, a sublimely intuitive interface and an ecosystem of many thousands of quickly downloadable apps. There are now, Cook said, 275,000 apps specifically designed for the iPad and earlier this month Apple sold its 100 millionth one.

There have been rivals since but few have undercut Apple's pricing

When Apple executive Philip Schiller finally revealed the iPad mini, it was flat and slim – 7.2mm from front to back, and weighing 0.68lbs, lighter than a book.

Apple has chosen a slightly larger screen size than some rivals: 7.9in, not least because the bezel on the iPad mini is noticeably slimmer than most rivals. The screen resolution is 1024 x 768 – not a Retina Display, then, Apple's name for a screen that has pixels so small you can't see them individually from a regular working distance. Even so, it looked crisp, pin-sharp and colourful. Schiller compared the iPad mini to the the Google Nexus 7, claiming Apple's superiority for web browsing, dedicated apps and more. It also has a 5-megapixel rear camera, which the Nexus lacks.

The iPad mini is on sale from 2 November for the Wi-Fi only version. It starts from £206.