Apple Announces New iPad Air and iPad Mini

Posted on March 18, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in iOS with 83 Comments

Apple this morning announced a new 10.5-inch iPad Air, which oddly doesn’t replace the 9.7-inch iPad, and a new iPad Mini. Both products support Apple Pencil, but it’s the old version, not the one that shipped along with the new iPad Pros. Both also feature dated designs with big bezels.

“iPad continues to provide magical new experiences for a growing range of uses where it is the absolute best device, from playing games in augmented reality to note-taking and drawing with Apple Pencil, from streaming HD movies and editing 4K films to learning to develop apps with Swift Playgrounds,” Apple’s Phil Schiller allegedly 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.”

The new iPad Air augments last year’s 9.7-inch iPad, which remains in-market. It ups the screen size a bit to 10.5-inches and features an A12 Bionic chip, which is a big upgrade over the A10 Fusion chip found in its predecessor. Even better, the new display supports Apple’s excellent True Tone technology. The new iPad Air is compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard, suggesting that it may actually be replacing the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. It starts at $500 for a Wi-Fi-only model or $630 for versions with cellular data support. (The 9.7-inch iPad now starts at $330.)

The long-awaited new iPad Mini is perhaps a bit more interesting: It also features an A12 Bionic chip and True Tone, but in a smaller, 7.9-inch form factor that appears to be identical to its dated predecessor. The new iPad Mini starts at $400 for a Wi-Fi-only model, or $530 for Wi-Fi + cellular. Both will be available for purchase this week.

Both new iPads support the first-generation Apple Pencil, which is curious since Apple has shipped a superior second-generation version for its iPad Pro devices. This first-gen Apple Pencil still costs $100 for some reason.

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Comments (83)

83 responses to “Apple Announces New iPad Air and iPad Mini”

  1. RobertJasiek

    Do the new iPads have laminated displays with reduced reflectance like, e.g,, the Mini 4? Are there camera bumps?

  2. MikeGalos

    So that's, what, something like 17 current variations to choose from with contradictory accessories and feature sets?


    This "new" Apple keeps reminding me of the Apple under Gil Amelio when they had the same problems with their Macintosh family and nearly were bankrupt. You might recall the first thing Steve Jobs did when he came back was drastically cut the number of models back to pretty much just choosing the color of your jelly bean iMac.

  3. anthonye1778

    What is Apple doing? Why do they continue to insult their own customers with stuff like this? They're not likely to be updated for at least a year, maybe 2. They already look dated, and only support an old dated pen input. I get the appeal of wanting to upgrade but not wanting to shell out $120 for the new pencil, but why not make it compatible with both? And then there's the prices, which while thankfully not increased like their other devices, are still too expensive especially if you want cellular service. I'm also assuming there is no upgrade to the resolution.


    Glad they've upgraded the chip, though. And Apple's TruTone is admittedly wonderful and a welcome addition.

  4. Yaggs

    No USB-C... that's a shame... it would be nice to see them standardize on USB-C... guess this means that isn't happening on the iPhone either...

  5. provision l-3

    "Apple’s Phil Schiller allegedly said"


    ...what? You are really floating the idea that Apple now makes up quotes by their executives? Or is this really Paul? .. Perhaps I should say Paul allegedly wrote this but could be Alex Jones.

  6. locust infested orchard inc

    Here comes the most predictable comment, from yours truly:


    Yet another duo of iFads to feed the insatiable demand of the iSheeple.

  7. Buzzmodo

    I have had a 2015 iPad mini since 2015. It's been an excellent device. That said, I have hoped that a new one would ultimately be forthcoming. I'm sure I'm like lots of people who would love a device that would replace a "Moleskin" and convert bad handwriting into readable text. It's a mystery to me as to why the better Apple "pencil" is not available for this device. It can't be about the cost. I plan to stop by the Apple store to try one out, as it really is a tool that I would like to drag with me to every meeting, trip, etc. I long ago realized that the "ergonomics" of a meeting are changed the instant that you start taking notes with a laptop as compared to handwriting your notes. Hence if the iPad mini solved the problem of getting my notes into a format that I could use, it would be invaluable.

  8. red.radar

    Ipad Mini is a great upgrade. Looking forward to that upgrade. It has the laminated screen, its thin like the air and has latest A12 Processor. Should be good to go for at least 4 years. the design is classic and functional I think that is a plus.

  9. Chris_Kez

    Will the LTE upgrade ever become reasonable (or free)? That $130 fee represents a 33% premium over the starting price of the iPad Mini. 33%! If you look at the base iPad ($329), the $150 LTE upgrade is a staggering 45%!

    • Allen Markham

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      Keep in mind that price and cost are related only to the extent that cost informs the ability of the price to generate a profit. (Companies do, however, often hid behind cost increases to justify price hikes).

    • lvthunder

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      I doubt it. There is some hardware and some licensing fees for including it.

      • wright_is

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Which is why you can buy a complete LTE smartphone for under $100, Apple don't need the case, the screen, the memory, the processor, the motherboard, RAM, as all of that is already in the Wi-Fi version, they just need the LTE chip, a couple of dollars, and the LTE licensing, which is probably less than $10 each.

      • Chris_Kez

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Don't these use the same modems that every other ARM-based cellular device uses? You can walk into any Best Buy, Walmart or phone store and pick from a dozen different devices that cost less than the $130 LTE upgrade for an iPad. Even if the iPad is using a better modem, there's still an enormous price gap that doesn't make sense.

  10. skramer49

    bought a 256gb space grey wifi mini...nice trade in for an old Air. Will use for note taking and sketching on the go plus reading, you tube, etc.

  11. mattbg

    ...and they both have a 3.5mm headphone jack, which was removed on the iPad Pro 2018.


    Now I wish I waited for this Air instead of buying a Pro :)

  12. mattbg

    This does fill an important gap and "Air" is the right name - as the Air was better than the current cheap iPad that replaced it. The premium feature gap as well as the price gap between the cheap iPad and the iPad Pro was too big.


    I bought an iPad Pro last year but would have bought this new iPad Air had it been available. I'd hesitate to buy another iPad Pro regardless.


    They are introducing some crazy fragmentation with this headphone jack/no headphone jack, USB-C/Lightning, and Pencil-1/Pencil-2 stuff. I hope they figure it out because consistency has always been a valuable aspect of the iOS platform to me.

  13. T182

    Why is the iPad Mini so much more expensive than the 9.7? This seems a little odd to me. am i missing something?

  14. feedtheshark

    Who buy iPads these days? Everyone i know who has one doesn't use it, they just sit gathering dust. I either use my phone or my laptop, iPad is either too big or too small and lacking in features.

    • locust infested orchard inc

      In reply to feedtheshark:


      Sadly the World is awash with iFads, where I see people both young and old using one – in shopping malls, in restaurants, in airports, whilst taking a countryside stroll, in car parks, on public transport, etc.


      Every time I see an iFad, I belch out some hideous profanity, which enrages me to an extent that I often wish to seize the offending device from the iSheeple. :-D


      But I'm too nice a chap, so the description above only occurs in my dream world where only ethically/morally responsible manufactured devices are permitted.


      If iFads are made in a similar manner to iPharces, then those who work in these factories churning out iDevices are overworked (with hundreds of workers found sleeping at their iPhone assembly workbench), and the use of child labour is common practice (as revealed by a BBC undercover operation a few years ago inside several iPhone factories in China).


      Hence my resistance to iDevices (only one of numerous reasons given above. For a fuller in depth reasoning, I have previously commented on at least two previous occasions on Thurrott.com).

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      I criticise Apple and iOS for many reasons but need to use Mini 4 daily for browsing, reading, basic proofreading because there still is no Windows tablet replacement with these aspects: handholdable, reasonably long battery life, display ratio close to 4:3 and tolerably low reflectance outdoors. Only two of these four essential aspects are available in every Windows device. File management and stylus cannot replace the missing aspects. Ebook readers still offer too little functionality (file formats, security, 16b grey scale if not to say colours) and acceptable workflow (latency!) for my usage.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      You need to meet my parents. They both use them every single day.

    • digiguy

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      I have 4 ipads and use all of them, I use my 9.7 pro as pen an paper and as portable laptops with 4G. My 12.9 pro as document viewer, sometimes as video viewer and also as a music making machine. And my mini for music, remote desktop and casual browsing (my old mini 2 is used for old apps and games that don't work anymore on new devices). I have keyboards for all of them.

      I still use my laptops for work.

      I guess people don't use them because they don't use keyboards and/or have an old and slow model.

      What I like about them:

      Ipad experience is way better than android

      Compared to windows:

      They offer screen sizes I can't find with Windows

      No decent 8in windows device

      the 9.7 pro is better than the surface go for me because I could get the LTE version with keyboard for 400 like new, the go lte with keyboard is more than double where I live. Much better battery life and standby. Much faster browsing. Also the logitech keyboard I got with it is much better than the go keyboard (compared them side by side in a store). Has replaced pen an paper for me.

      The 12.9 4:3 ipad is much larger than the surface pro and equivalent the the 13.5 3/2 surface book, but cheaper, lighter and with much better tablet battery life.

      Again I don't work with them and if I need to work outside I remotely connect to my laptops with LTE.

    • BrianEricFord

      In reply to feedtheshark:


      Millions of people? What is your cutoff for when something is no longer a relevant product in the consumer marketplace?

    • ozaz

      In reply to feedtheshark:


      I haven't bought a new iPad in a while, but I use my iPad Mini more or less every day. It's still my preferred device on the couch and on my commute. I find phone screen too small and laptop is overkill for these activities. When I'm on vacation it's a toss up between my iPad mini and my laptop as to what I bring with me.


      I still find my 2015 4th gen mini perfectly fine for what I use it for (browsing, reading, movies) but I'll be having a good look at the new Mini + Pencil combination to see if I can get any additional use cases out of it. I can envisage that being handy at work.

    • skborders

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      I use my iPad everyday. Do all my reading/bible study, casual browsing and some games on it. I am 57 years old, my eyes have trouble reading much on a phone screen for very long.

    • bob_shutts

      In reply to feedtheshark: You'll find an iPad in the cockpit of about every commercial airliner. Usually running FlightBag and some proprietary software. If you fly IFR in general aviation you're going to be running ForeFlight. There are some VFR apps for GA also, but I'm too lazy to look them up. Now you know some of the people who buy iPads. ;)

    • rbgaynor

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      Apple sells over 40 million iPads per year, so I would guess the answer to your question about who buys iPads, is lots of peopledo.

    • red.radar

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      Speak for yourself. We use ours everyday. in fact our PCs rot in the corner because we can do 90% of our computing on an Ipad. The remaining 10% represents productivity work. 90% of the time our PC sits idle.


      In fact I like my ipad more than I like my phone. Its a more comfortable web browsing expirence when you are couch surfing. And OneNote works rather well on the Ipad.


    • warren

      In reply to feedtheshark:


      I've got an older iPad, I use it every day for exactly three things: YouTube, reading RSS feeds, and a game. No connection to social media, email, app notifications, or anything else.... just a simple device for a few things.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      Screen Time shows me using my iPad 3-4 hours per day. It shows me using my iPhone 30m-60m per day.


      So I use my iPad significantly more than my phone.


      In the last seven days it has been used for YouTube, ordering 5 guys burgers, Thurrott.com, Amazon, steamcommunity, and a metric crap-ton of github and Slack/Teams communications.


      Mix of work and play.

    • Person

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      My parents, and many such people who just want a very portable affordable machine that will be fast enough for anything they do. A device that supports all the apps they need and that has great battery life. Meanwhile they don't have to think twice about installing things, the whole 'download from sketchy websites', backup without any hassle, all touch based applications etc. etc.


      They just dislike using their laptop. It's on their lap, it's rather heavy, the screen isn't that great and the trackpad on Windows machines sucks (they had a Macbook before). And then there is software. After using the mail app on W10, trying to adjust settings in one of the settings apps, or just fighting auto-update and random small problems that need me to intervene and fix them.

    • William Clark

      In reply to feedtheshark:

      Everyone I know uses them daily. So there you go, half the world uses them and half don't. I use my phone when I'm mobile and it's not easy to crack open a laptop or pull out a tablet. But when on a plane/car/bus/ferry or at home the larger screen of the tablet is much preferred. Also, I don't fly my drone that often anymore but an iPad mini is perfect for the video feed from my DJI Phantom. I know a lot of drone flyers that have been anxiously waiting for an iPad mini update.

  15. Paul Thurrott

    Fixed the chip name thing, thanks!

  16. echorelay

    Hey Paul — believe you meant “A12 Bionic” here: “The long-awaited new iPad Mini is perhaps a bit more interesting: It also features an A10 Fusion chip..”

  17. simont

    Expensive but I will still by buying the 256GB version. Perfect for my travels.

  18. Ugur

    Seems to me like Apple got scared about regular ARM tablets likely not selling that great anymore once the folding devices are out in the market for around a year and the prices come down for them by then so that then lots more people can afford them.

    So yeah, they release iPad refreshes asap now to sell as many of those while they still can in halfway as big numbers.

    I guess nice for people who wanted an iPad and for some reason still hadn't bought one or have a very old one and want it upgraded.


    But even if i was into buying an iPad, it is lame to me meanwhile to see Apple always releasing upgrades for the "non pro" iPads which are always intentionally gimped/a gen behind on so many ends, for no good reason other than Apple further inflating their profit margins. Like ok, you can put in a bit less ram, a bit slower cpu/gpu, but ship a device with only supporting the older pen when the new one has already been out for a while? That type of stuff is just lame.


    Probably more worrying to Apple: To me, like many others, i already have a bunch of ARM tablets and those i have are good enough for doing on them what i do on an ARM tablet (which is mostly consume web , media and social networks), so not interested in buying any more ARM tablets anytime soon. I'd much rather wait until the foldable devices become more affordable within a year and then buy one of those so i always have a tablet size screen with me no matter where i go.

    Or if i want a device which can be used well for way more, i'd buy another surface device.

    I think more and more people will think like that over the next year and that would worry me if i was at Apple.


    I find it kinda fascinating how bored i meanwhile am by iPads, seeing how i was quite enthusiastic about them in 2010-2014.

    I never jumped onto the "will replace most computers, and soon!" bandwagon, but yeah, i was way more up on them and bought several for myself and even made stuff for them.

    Nowadays i buy one for my Mom around every 3-5 years, since easiest to use for her, and that's all the new iPads we need, and the "need to upgrade" cycle is getting longer and longer each time. Apple fans try to argue that point as less negative by saying: hey, that is because they got so good, you don't need to upgrade that often anymore!

    My personal feeling is that the OS and app store restrictions have kept the thing so close to phone OS level usage scenarios, that it is just not used for way more by me and hence there is also no sense in upgrading it..

    And will be even much less once i have some foldable devices which become small tablet size when needed.


    So yeah, i guess good on Apple for milking it while they still can in such unit numbers..


    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to Ugur:

      “I'd much rather wait until the foldable devices become more affordable within a year and then buy one of those so i always have a tablet size screen with me no matter where i go.”


      What do do you consider “more affordable”?


      I expect it will take significantly longer than a year for the foldable phones to go from $2,000 down into the $1,000 range.


      I’m also quite interested in the durability aspect of foldable devices. Personally, I think it is far too early to see the main advantages of foldable devices. And the current ones leave a lot of unanswered questions.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Ugur:

      I think the smartphone vs a tablet competition has always been a bit of a red herring and I don't think foldable phones will change that.

      • BrianEricFord

        In reply to skane2600:


        Mostly, I like that the “iPad is a dud and I called it” crowd somehow thinks tablet/phone hybrids that are shitty, compromised versions of both form factors — for an OS that never successfully optimized for tablets — is going to be a wild success that turns the market on its head.

        • Ugur

          In reply to BrianEricFord: your way of arguing is like Tim Cook's way of arguing against a surface like device by saying a toaster combined with a fridge is no good idea or two turkeys don't make and eagle etc blabla, that kind of arguing against combining two things (which usually comes around a year before Apple copies that approach if succesful, see iPad Pro keyboard/pen).

          If you look at it that way, a phone is pretty much that, on all ends:
          A modern smartphone is a shitty, compromised camera, a shitty compromised web browser, a shitty compromised OS etc etc. one could go on and on.
          Why does it do so well? Because while not being as good as the full blown versions of those things, it has a lot of value to lots of people to be able to carry a "good enough" version of all those things combined around with them in a single device.
          Now one will soon be able to also carry a good enough tablet with one in the trouser pocket. And that will be appealing to A LOT of people.
          If you don't see it like that, no problem, but obviously many others will.
          I also see it as a bit shortsighted to not see that.
          But your comment is also a bit off in not looking at the history either.
          The iPad Mini sales have gone down considerably after phones with larger screens came out and then quickly became the norm.
          So obviously when one can carry around a small tablet in your trouser pocket (in folded phone version), that will considerably cut into the arm tablet market, too.
          Apple didn't suddenly decide to copy the surface convertible approach with the iPad Pro just because the surface pro was doing well, another big reason was for sure also that they saw the writing on the wall that a regular arm tablet with phone OS just can't be sold for the profit margins they want way longer anymore.

          And this trend of the niche for ARM tablets with phone OS becoming smaller and smaller will just continue on with fildable phones further cutting into it.

          I see devices like the surface go or pro less impacted by this than an iPad, as they due to running a desktop OS automatically have other use cases one can't have on the phone+tablet combo.
          But a device like an iPad Mini with a phone OS? Yeah, i'd be surprised if that has any chance at all to sell in the 400+ range a few years down the line.
          Wouldn't be surprised if Apple sees it the same way and after max 1 more iteration again doesn't update it anymore for many years if at all anytime halfway soon.


    • BrianEricFord

      In reply to Ugur:


      I like that you write this off as a product for your mom but don’t realize that almost everyone on the planet has a mom at which point your pessimistic anecdotal market suddenly becomes an enviable product market.

      • Ugur

        In reply to BrianEricFord: Not really. As i said, i already bought an iPad for her a few years ago
        (If i remember right it was actually the first i didn't buy extra for her, instead i handed her down my last one as i saw no use for it anymore, my Nexus 7 and 9 are just as good for me for watching netflix etc). I don't see any reason for why i should upgrade her iPad again in the next 3-5 years, more importantly: not sure if i will ever upgrade it again.
        Way more likely within 1-2 years i'll buy a foldable phone for myself and then hand that down to her 1-2 years later when i get the next nicer one or buy her an own one then as the prices come down further on those.
        I imagine she would like a phone with unfoldable bigger screen a lot since as older person already the text on the big screen phones is often not that well readable for her.
        The main important things are i guess that a) a large part of the potential audience for iPads already has an iPad or a contender ARM tablet (if not multiple in the family), these devices have turned less appealing, not more, to a lot of people as they realized the OS and apps and connectivity are pretty much just as limiting as on the phone as 8 years ago and then on top new device form factors with bendable/rollable etc screens make the old tablets again a good bit less appealing on top.
        Apple basically has little to no growth potential for iPads in their current form anymore besides temporary fluke spikes, way more likely in the long term a way bigger decline over the next few years for that device form factor, i don't see that as very enviable.
        Basically the iPad is niched further in between phones which then get unfolding big screens and on the higher end things like a surface pro or with next iteration surface go which allow to do way more, in price ranges which are not far off what Apple asks there for the iPads.
        In best case scenario they can hope to capture as many users as they had for iPads by making bendable/rollable phones which capture as many people as iPhones+iPads together.
        Quite unlikely though as meanwhile Apple is very slow in jumping on such progress bandwagons, so more likely that others already have quite appealing foldables out there and by then at quite reasonable price, a good while before Apple gets theirs together.

        I also completely gave up on Apple ever progressing their OS capabilities properly to the extend needed for iPads when the news made the round that the new iPad Pro had an USB port and still would not allow using any regular external drive.
        At that point, yeah, captain obvious that they think it's ok to just keep it as consumation toy which they only label as "pro" to charge more money and try to justify buying more accessories for.


  19. harmjr

    I really hate the naming of these devices. It creates confusion.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to harmjr:

      Which device(s) should they name differently?

      • harmjr

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        All the iPads... If I told you to go and buy an iphone 7 case you might ask me are you sure this is the 7 or the 7 plus kind of simple naming here. You would not be asking me for some strange measurements. But on the ipad word you have ipad 10.5" or the ipad 9.7inch or the ipad 10" or the ipad 12" lets not forget the iPad air. Out of all of that which ipad is the newest? To me this is just confusing. Most likely on purpose.

  20. Daekar

    The iPad Mini pricing sort of puts the new folding phones in a new perspective. Do you really want to juggle a whole other device that costs $400 or would you rather pay a bit more to just have your phone do that job?


    Not that I'm arguing the foldables have as good a UX as an iPad - yet. But it's coming...

  21. silversee

    Despite the name which conveys the sense that something has been upgraded, the new Air just seems to be a rehash of the 10.5" Pro, but for a cheaper price. Not a bad thing really.

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