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Some doubted whether Apple would indeed come through with the iPad mini 2 this year, but thanks to today’s official announcement at the special press event, we now know this to be true. As well as packing a wonderfully-crisp Retina panel, the smaller of the two Apple slates also includes quite a few features we’re more than familiar with, including the A7 processor of the iPhone 5s!

Although it’s only natural to assume that the iPad mini would be getting an update this year, problems with yield have thrown this notion into serious doubt. Apparently, Apple’s suppliers have been struggling to churn out enough units of the super-sharp display, but whilst some analysts suggested this could throw the announcement back to 2014, Apple has taken what appears to be a gamble by revealing it today.

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Not that we’re complaining, mind. In many respects, the iPad mini with Retina Display is exciting as the iPhone 5s itself; which is hardly surprising, since it borrows many of the flagship phone’s key features.

Features

The Retina iPad mini packs the 64-bit A7 processor – with the M7 motion coprocessor – that commentators have been waxing lyrical about since the iPhone 5s was announced in the middle of September. This is a huge step up from the A5 (of iPhone 4S fame) seen in the original iPad mini, and makes it a seriously worthy counterpart to the full-size iPad Air, to which it has, so far, certainly played a weak second place in the hardware department.

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But, of course! After disappointing many by seeming to take a step back with the still-decent-but-not-quite-Retina display of the iPad mini mark I, it’s great to see that the 7.9-inch panel is now as crisp and sharp as the rest of the product family. The device now offers a 2,048 x 1,536 resolution panel, which will make photos crisper, apps clearer, and iOS 7 just that little bit more beautiful.

The release of the iPhone 5s saw the birth of new color options, and the iPad mini 2 with Retina display comes in Space Gray and Silver. No Gold for the iPad. Yup, we’re disappointed to learn that as well.

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The camera remains largely unchanged in the megapixels department and sits at 5-megapixel for the rear camera, and features 1080p video recording. The FaceTime HD camera has been improved as well.

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As was the case with the inaugural release, the iPad mini 2 with Retina display comes in 16, 32 and 64GB storage configurations in either Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + Cellular.

Accessories

Just like the iPad Air, the iPad mini 2 has received a duo of new official cases. The new Smart Cover and Smart Case for iPad mini 2 are priced at $39 and $69, respectively. And since the form factor of the iPad mini 2 has been left unchanged, therefore the new cases / covers are also compatible with the first-gen iPad mini. Both cases are available in 6 different color options.

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Availability

The iPad mini 2 with Retina display will be available later in November.

Price

The iPad mini 2 with Retina display is a tad bit expensive than the previous-gen iPad mini, all thanks to its shiny new Retina display. The Wi-Fi only version starts at $399 for the 16GB model, $499 for the 32GB model, $599 for the 64GB model and a whopping $699 for the 128GB model.

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The Wi-Fi + Cellular model is expensive than its Wi-Fi only counterpart. Priced at $529 for the 16GB model, $629 for the 32GB model, $729 for the 64GB model and a marvelous $829 for the 128GB model.

What do you think – are you impressed by the new processor, display, and color offering?

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