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Apple parts ways with the original iPad Mini

Once Apple's best-selling iPad, the 2012 edition of the Mini was no longer the attraction that it used to be.

An iOS device family photo from 2012: The iPad Mini is at center between the fourth-gen iPad and fifth-gen iPod Touch. CNET

The era of the the original iPad Mini has come and gone.

Consumers in the market for a modest-sized, budget-priced tablet will no longer find that version of the iPad Mini for sale on Apple's website or available in an Apple store.

What they'll find instead are the iPad Mini 2 and iPad Mini 3, along with the larger iPad Air and iPad Air 2, all of which sport crisper Retina displays.

The original Mini had carried a starting price of $249 -- Apple's lowest price ever for a tablet -- since October when Apple introduced the Mini 3.

Apple confirmed that the non-Retina model of the Mini is no longer available. "Now all models of iPad Mini and iPad Air have 64-bit Apple-designed CPUs and high-resolution Retina displays," an Apple spokesperson said.

The change in the Mini lineup was first reported by the blog 9to5Mac.

Apple introduced the iPad Mini in October 2012, at a time before supersized smartphones had started to catch on, and its 7.9-inch screen easily set it apart from the original 9.7-inch iPad. At one point, according to researcher IHS Technology, it was the most popular of Apple's tablets, accounting for as much as 60 percent of iPad shipments, but by the first quarter of this year, the original Mini had dropped below 17 percent.

With the departure of the original Mini, the lowest price in the iPad lineup is now $299.

New iPad Minis will likely still be available through sites like Amazon until they run out, and refurbished models will continue to be an option, even through Apple.