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Apple Revamps iPad Mini and Adds Faster Chip to Entry-Level iPad

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(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. unveiled a revamped iPad mini with an iPad Pro-like design, thinner bezels and a larger display, alongside a faster entry-level model.

The new iPad mini moves Touch ID to the home button on the top, matching the iPad Air from last year. It’s also 40% faster than the previous version, Apple said at a launch event Tuesday. And it gains a larger, 8.3-inch screen. The new entry-level model, meanwhile, now has an A13 processor, an upgrade from the A12 on the previous version. That will result in 20% faster performance, the company said.

Apple’s iPad line saw a resurgence during the pandemic as people worked, played games and studied at home. The company generated $7.4 billion in iPad sales in the third quarter, or 9% of total revenue.

The entry-level model has the same design as the eighth-generation model launched last year, but doubles the base storage to at least 64 gigabytes. The new iPad mini also adds USB-C charging, the same port as the iPad Pro and iPad Air -- in addition to 5G support for the first time.

The new entry-level model includes an improved front-facing camera with a 12-megapixel sensor and Center Stage, a feature that automatically shifts the camera’s position digitally to follow around a user during video calls. The standard iPad screen also has True Tone, which adjusts tones based on the surrounding environment.

The iPad mini gains a 12-megapixel camera on the back and an LED flash for taking pictures in low light, in addition to the same 12-pixel camera on the front as the entry-level model. The iPad mini also will get stereo speakers for improved sound, Apple said. The entry-level model includes support for the original Apple Pencil from 2015, while the new iPad mini supports the second-generation version from 2018.

The new entry version continues to sell for $329, while Apple offers it for $299 to schools. The iPad mini will cost $499. Apple is also rolling out iPadOS 15 software this month with expanded support for widgets on the home screen.

A revamped iPad Pro with wireless charging support is expected in 2022. Bloomberg previously reported on Apple’s plans for Tuesday’s entry-level iPad and iPad mini upgrades.

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