Apple Inc. on Tuesday introduced the eight-inch iPad Mini, which offers Long Term Evolution (LTE) support for Sprint Nextel Corp. and other carriers, and updated its larger fourth-generation model with the 4G connectivity.
The iPad Mini will cost $329 for a Wi-Fi-only model. A 32GB mini is $429, and it costs $519 for 64GB. On each model, Apple is charging a $130 premium for LTE connectivity. So, faster data downloads over LTE will start at $459. (See iPhone 5: Which 4G Carrier to Pick?.)
The Minis are cheaper than some competing seven-inch Android tablets like the Wi-Fi-only 16GB Google Nexus 7, which costs $499 for a 32GB version. The slightly larger Amazon.com Inc. Kindle Fire HD 4G, with an 8.9-inch screen and LTE, costs $499 for a 32GB version, so less than a comparable 32GB LTE iPad Mini at $559. (See What We Mean When We Say '4G'.)
Other features include:
- An Apple dual-core A5 processor
- A 7.9-inch display
- A five-megapixel back-mounted camera for pictures
- A front-facing 720p HD camera for FaceTime video chat
The iPad mini will be available for pre-order this Friday, Oct. 26. The Wi-Fi-only version will ship starting on Nov. 2.
Apple also gave its 10.1-inch iPad the updated LTE and faster Wi-Fi. The new A6X processor on-board will also speed up performance. The fourth generation iPads start at $629.
Why this matters
Sprint had been locked out of the iPad world before because Apple didn't support LTE on its 1900MHz band. Now the iPad Mini and fourth-gen models will represent the second and third 4G tablets on its young LTE network. The operator has just announced that it is now in 32 towns and cities in the U.S. and hopes to add 115 more in the coming months. (See Sprint Serves 32 LTE Markets, With 115 on Deck .)
Consumers beware, however. Sprint doesn't offer its much talked-about unlimited data plan for tablets, only smartphones. Like the AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless iPads, Sprint's tablets come with capped data plans, starting at $34.99 for 3GB of data a month.
â€” Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile