During its annual autumn keynote address, Apple didn't move heaven and earth. Instead, the company pushed the envelope ever so slightly forward for its marquee consumer devices.
In addition to introducing the iPhone 13 series, Apple made meaningful updates to the iPad, iPad mini, and Apple Watch.
While the iPad Pro series fills the premium role in Apple's tablet lineup, Apple has bestowed some of the Pro's higher-end features on the entry-level iPad. For its ninth iteration, the 10.2-inch iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard.
In its first update since 2019, 8.3-inch iPad mini also got a taste of the premium life, with support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, though its keyboard compatibility is limited to standard Bluetooth keyboards.
With an "all-screen" design, the new iPad mini is a step further in the premium direction than the iPad in several areas. The mini holds a 12MP Wide camera on the rear, while the iPad makes do with an 8MP Wide camera. The mini rolls in with a USB-C port, while the iPad has the legacy Lightning connector.
The mini also shares some DNA with the latest iPhones, packing the A15 Bionic chip, while the ninth-generation iPad is saddled with the A13 chip. The iPad mini also comes with a 5G connectivity, while the iPad settles for 4G. The mini even has more color options, with Space Grey, Pink, Purple, and Starlight vs. two shades of grey for the iPad.
Otherwise, the iPad and iPad mini are mostly similar. Both pack a 12MP Ultra Wide front-facing camera with Center Stage, another iPad Pro feature that intelligently pans and zooms to accommodate and follow multiple faces in its field of view for video calls. Both tablets come in 64GB and 256GB storage configurations and support iPadOS 15, including multitasking and widget layouts.
Both tablets will be available on Sept. 24, with preorders opening up on Sept. 1. The iPad starts at $329, while the iPad mini retails for $499 and up.
Meanwhile, the smallest of Apple's screens actually gets a bit bigger with the Apple Watch Series 7. Now available in 41mm and 45mm sizes (up from 40mm and 44mm), the Series 7 also gains slimmer bezels, making the display 20% larger than the Series 6 and 50% larger than the Series 3. Otherwise, the wearable carries over the same features of its predecessor, including electrical heart and blood oxygen sensors.
Of course, the Apple Watch is just as much a fashion accessory as it is a computing device. On the design side, the Series 7 will come in midnight, starlight, green, and new blue and (PRODUCT)RED aluminum finishes, along with a variety of bands and backward compatibility with bands from previous generations. Apple will also offer new bands by Nike and Hermès. Whatever your trade is, you'll now have an Apple Watch that matches your fitness or fashion-centric lifestyle.
Finally, just as Apple has positioned the iPhone 13 series as a filmmaker's companion, the iPad and iPad mini have been transformed into valuable tools for illustrators and graphic designers with Apple Pencil support. Additionally, the tablets have also gained greater utility for on-the-move professionals via iPad OS 15.
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