The wait is finally over.
Apple today announced the long-awaited (and much-rumored) iPad Mini. The device, which is a smaller, slightly redesigned version of its larger slate, comes with a 7.9-inch screen and (of course) runs Apple's iOS 6 software.
The iPad Mini with 16GB of storage retails for $329. As with Apple's other tablets, the company is adding $100 for each 16GB in additional storage. The LTE options add an additional $130, pushing the highest iPad Mini price to $659.
The iPad Mini is 7.2mm thick, about 23 percent thinner than the fourth-generation iPad. The device weighs 0.68 pounds, making it 53 percent lighter than its bigger brother. The device's display has a screen resolution of 1,024x768 pixels, matching the first- and second-generation iPad. According to Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller, that means developers won't need to modify apps to ensure they work with the screen.
Speaking of Schiller, he wasted no time going right at the Google Nexus 7. He said the iPad Mini will come with a 35 percent larger screen. When browsing the Web, the device is 49 percent larger in portrait and two-thirds bigger in landscape mode.
On the inside, the iPad Mini is quite impressive. The device has a dual-core A5 processor and 5-megapixel iSight camera on the back. On the front, it comes with a FaceTime HD camera. In terms of connectivity, the slate comes with Wi-Fi and LTE support. Apple says that the iPad Mini will come with 10 hours of battery life. Not bad, considering it's the largest and thinnest battery Apple has ever designed for an iPad.
The iPad Mini has been rumored for months, with images and details leaking on a near-daily basis. Apple had stayed tight-lipped on its plans for another tablet, but lately, the company's vaunted secrecy machine has shown some weakness: Many of the features shown off today were already outed in leaks over the last several weeks.
Still, the iPad Mini is sure to be another big hit for Apple. During its last-reported quarter ended June 30, Apple sold 17 million iPads. Many analysts believe that with the iPad Mini's help,, giving it even more control over the tablet market. That's saying something: Apple CEO Tim Cook announced today that the company has sold 100 million iPads in just the last two-and-a-half years.
That's bad news for Google and Amazon, the two companies that have heretofore dominated the lower end of the tablet market. Those companies' devices come with 7-inch screens and retail for hundreds of dollars less than Apple's 9.7-inch iPad. However, that price advantage is no longer so great.
iPad Mini pre-orders will start Friday. The Wi-Fi-only model will ship on November 2. Two weeks later, the LTE-equipped versions will be hitting store shelves.
This story has been updated throughout the morning.