London - Apple has barely had time to restock the shelves since its latest iPhone launch but that hasn’t stopped the tech giant unveiling its latest iPad – the iPad Air.
The announcement has added serious fuel to the fire in the battle of the tablets in the run up to Christmas, and comes just hours after Nokia entered the tablet market with its Lumia 2520 and Microsoft started selling its new Surface devices.
The iPad Air is thinner, lighter, more powerful than ever before, Apple said.
It has 9.7-inch Retina display with a smaller bezel and is 43 percent thinner than the previous model, making it more comfortable to hold. It also has a 5MP camera and dual microphones for the first time.
The device will become available, at least in the US and UK, in mid-December in four colours – silver, white, “space grey” and black. Prices will start from $499 (R4 890) for a 16GB model.
The tablet is 7.5mm thick and weighs just 450g, compared to the 630g of the previous model, making it the “lightest full size tablet in the world”.
The tablet also has Apple’s A7 chip, that was just launched in the iPhone 5S and is twice as fast as before. The graphics are 72 percent faster than the very first iPad.
At San Francisco’s Yuerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook also unveiled a new iPad Mini with a new high-resolution 7.9-inch Retina display, which also has the new A7 chip from the iPhone 5s.
It boasts 10 hours of battery life, improved wi-fi and better LTE support, and is available in silver, white, space grey and black, contrary to rumours that suggested it would come in a rainbow of colours like the iPhone C.
The new model will cost from $399 (R3 900) in the US, and will become available in November, although a precise date is yet to be announced.
Neither new iPad comes with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Apple also revealed the latest version of its Mac OS X software, claiming it can give current laptops an extra hour of battery life, as well as boosting graphics performance.
The software, called Mavericks, includes Apple’s controversial Maps app for the first time, and its iBooks electronic reading app.
The free upgrade is available for all Apple Mac users.
The 13-inch Macbook Pro has been made lighter and thinner, and given a new low-power Intel Haswell chip to improve its graphics and battery life, which Apple claims is now nine hours.
The radical tubular Mac Pro, designed for high-end users is the most powerful machine that Apple has ever made with an Intel Xeon E5 processor, which is capable of driving three next-generation ultra HD monitors.
It also has a motion sensor to illuminate the machine’s ports when it is moved.
Thinner, faster, cheaper and more powerful, it will be available in the US in December and will cost from $2 999.
Reacting to the Apple launch, Jason Jenkins, editor of technology magazine CNET, said: “What’s wrong with the iPad? Absolutely nothing, so why change it? That’s Apple’s philosophy behind (the) launch of its new iPads.
“There are some improvements, like making them thinner and lighter, adding better cameras and faster chips, and the smaller iPad now gets a much better retina display.
“But there’s nothing dramatically new here. And you know what? That’s fine. If you haven’t bought an iPad, now is a good time to do so, although if you already own one, there’s no need at all to upgrade.”
Earlier in the day Nokia announced its first tablet computer, the Lumia 2520. Nokia’s device starts at $499 in the US, has a 10.1-inch screen and runs Windows RT. It comes in red, blue, white and black and its screen has a pixel density of 218.
The tablet contains a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB Ram and a 800mAH battery.
Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablets also went on sale on Tuesday. – Daily Mail