The new model’s dimensions are markedly smaller and thinner than its predecessors, with a screen size of 7.9 inches and width of 7.2mm. By contrast, the iPad 3 has a 9.7 inch screen and is 9.4mm wide.
Commentators have noted it marks a significant change in direction for Apple, whose late founder Steve Jobs said just two years ago that 7 inch tablets were “too small”.
The cheapest iPad Mini, which is WiFi only and has 16GB storage, will be priced at £269 in the UK when it becomes available on 2 November.
Analysts were surprised at the high RRP for the device, saying it leaves room for competitors to undercut Apple in the busy Christmas gifting period.
Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum told the BBC: “ We got a mix of a bit of new Apple and bit of old Apple in the same announcement: this is new for Apple to be responding to competitors instead of pioneering their own way [but] it’s old Apple as they’ve gone into this market with a premium pricing strategy. At the moment this doesn’t place a lot of pressure on the [Amazon] Kindle Fire or the [Google]Nexus.”
Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes says: “We were hoping the mini could be priced at least a little lower given its competition is situated as low as $99 (£62), with many starting in the $199-$249 (£124-£156) range. That being said, Apple seems convinced that consumers want the iPad and its ecosystem, which has worked so far at the high-end.”
Barclays predicts Apple will sell 5 to 10 million iPad Minis in the December quarter. Apple has sold about 16 million iPads – of all varieties – in the quarter to early October 2012.
Market intelligence company IDC estimates that the new device will boost Apple’s dominance in the global tablet market in spite of its premium price. It forecasts Apple will have a 68 per cent stranglehold on the market, while Android will have a 29 per cent share.
Apple’s shares fell 3 per cent to $613.36 (£383.78) after the product announcement, suggesting investors are also unsure about the iPad Mini’s potential success – especially ahead of the launch of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 tablet Surface on 26 October.