APPLE has unveiled a new thinner and lighter Ipad - dubbing it iPad Air - as it faces fierce competition from Samsung and Google in the tablet market.
Apple says the iPad Air is 20% thinner and 28% lighter than the fourth generation iPad and, as expected, features a 'stunning' 9.7 inch Retina display.
Apple also announced iPad mini with Retina display, bringing all the pixels from the 9.7-inch iPad to its 7.9-inch screen.
The announcement comes as iPad's market share has been eroding compared with cheaper rivals running Google`s Android operating system.
Research firm Gartner Inc. shows android tablets will end 2013 with a 50% share of the worldwide market versus 49% for the iPad.
Two years ago, the iPad commanded a 65% share compared to 30% for android tablets.
But Apple is hoping the new iPad - along with a host of new upgrades they announced today - will help it gain the upper hand again.
The new iPads feature the power-efficient Apple-designed A7 chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, ultrafast wireless with faster built-in Wi-Fi and expanded 4G LTE cellular connectivity, and the newly-designed iOS 7 featuring hundreds of great new features.
"iPad created an entirely new mobile computing experience, and the new iPad Air is another big leap ahead,'' said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing in a statement on Wednesday.
"It is so thin, light and powerful, once you hold one in your hand you will understand what a tremendous advancement this is.''
Precision-engineered to weigh less than half a kilogram, Apple is says the Air's retina display makes web pages, text, images and video look incredibly sharp and realistic.
The power-efficient A7 chip allows the battery to be even smaller, helping reduce the overall volume by 24 percent from the previous generation while doubling its performance and maintaining its up to 10-hour battery life.
The new iPad mini with Retina display packs all the 3.1 million pixels (2048-by-1536 resolution) of iPad Air into its 7.9-inch Multi-Touch™ display, for a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch.
The 7.9-inch Retina display of iPad mini is 35 percent larger than screens on 7-inch tablets, and is the only small tablet to deliver the full iPad experience, now with razor sharp Retina quality. Images are crisp, text is crystal clear, movies play at full 1080p HD-resolution and the 475,000 apps designed specifically for iPad work automatically.
The A7 chip in iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display offers 64-bit desktop-class architecture, advanced graphics and improved image signal processing from previous generations.
With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance on iPad Air, and up to four times the CPU and eight times the graphics performance on iPad mini.
The A7 chip's 64-bit architecture and support for OpenGL ES version 3.0 unlocks game console-like visual effects.
The new iPads also feature the M7 motion coprocessor that gathers data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass to offload work from the A7 for improved power efficiency.
Pricing & Availability
iPad Air with Wi-Fi models will be available in silver or space grey starting on Friday, 1 November, for a recommended retail price of AUD$598 inc. GST for the 16GB model, AUD$699 for the 32GB model, AUD$799 for the 64GB model and AUD$899 inc. for the 128GB model.
iPad Air with Wi-Fi + Cellular will be available starting on Friday, 1 November for a recommended retail price of AUD$749 for the 16GB model, AUD$849 for the 32GB model, AUD$949 for the 64GB model and AUD$1,049 for the 128GB model.
iPad 2 is available for a recommended retail price AUD$449 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and AUD$598 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.
iPad mini with Retina display will be available later in November in silver or space grey.
iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi models will be available for a recommended retail price of AUD$479 for the 16GB model, AUD$598 for the 32GB model, AUD$699 for the 64GB model and AUD$799 i for the 128GB model.
iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a recommended retail price of AUD$629 for the 16GB model, AUD$749 for the 32GB model, AUD$849 for the 64GB model and AUD$949 for the 128GB model.
Additionally, the original iPad mini is now offered at a more affordable recommended retail price of AUD$349 inc. GST for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and AUD$499 inc. GST for the 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model.