Apple pulled a rabbit out of its hat on Tuesday, silently beginning to take orders for its new iPad mini with Retina display. Announced on October 22 with a vague promise of availability "later in November," the updated iPad mini is available to buy now online.
The latest version of the iPad comes in four capacities--16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB--with prices starting at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model. As of early Tuesday morning, Apple's U.S. online store listed ship times of one to three days for the 16GB and 32GB Wi-Fi models. The 64GB and 128GB Wi-Fi iPad minis, and all configurations of the cellular-equipped tablets, will ship in five to ten business days, according to Apple's online store. Those ship times are likely to slip as Apple's initial supply dwindles.
Apple announced the iPad mini with Retina display back in October at the same press event where it took the wraps off the iPad Air. That full-sized iPad arrived in stores on November 1.
Besides the sharper screen--the Retina iPad mini boosts resolution to 2048 by 1536 pixels on the same 7.9-inch screen as its 1024 by 768-pixel predecessor--the new mini runs on a 64-bit A7 processor and includes an M7 motion coprocessor. Those are the same components that have made the iPad Air the fastest iOS device Apple's ever made. The new mini also offers upgraded wireless capabilities, some camera improvements, and battery life comparable to the original iPad mini.
Apple hasn't officially announced when the Retina iPad mini will appear in its retail stores, though with some versions of the tablet landing in online shoppers' hands later this week, sometime in the next few days seems like a sensible bet. We'll update this story with further information on iPad mini with Retina display availability as we get it.