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Apple unveils redesigned iPad Mini with 8.3-inch display and 5G connectivity

The tech giant makes the announcement at a virtual launch event Tuesday.

Logo of an Apple store, seen from a music fountain on the
Apple's new iPad Mini
Screenshot by Sara Tew/CNET

Apple on Tuesday unveiled the newest generation of its iPad Mini, the company's most significant update in years to its smallest-sized tablet.

The new device has a redesigned body, with an 8.3-inch display, rounded edges and volume buttons moved from the side of the device to the top. The power button has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and on the bottom of the device is a USB-C charging port. The tablet will support 5G connectivity and will start at $499 (£479, AU$749). It's available beginning next week.

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The iPad Mini also includes support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, the tablet's stylus that's been popular among digital artists. It has a 12-megapixel camera and comes in four colors: purple, pink, starlight (white) and space gray.

"Today we're giving our littlest iPad its biggest upgrade ever," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during a virtual launch event.

With the new addition to the lineup, Apple hopes to build on recent momentum for a once-struggling product category. Tablet sales had suffered in recent years, but the devices have been resurgent during the pandemic, as people have sheltered in place and worked remotely. In the first quarter of 2021, iPad sales surged almost 80% compared with the year before. The PC market has experienced a similar boost, seemingly limited only by worldwide chip shortages that have slowed manufacturing of everything from video game consoles to Ford trucks.

Just like the iPhone, Apple makes several different types of iPads, ranging from the entry-level iPad Mini to the almost-a-computer iPad Pro. What's helped the iPad stand out though is its thin design, optional keyboard cover and Apple Pencil. Apple has also pitched the iPad as a device for schools, designing apps for books and learning while also offering specialized discounts.