Books & Review | Cole Garner Hill
Updated: Nov 10, 2012 01:17 PM EST

ipad mini

The iPad mini WiFi + Cellular is priced from $459 for the 16GB model, with different versions for three carriers in the U.S. (Photo : Reuters)

Apple will begin shipping the LTE version of its iPad mini tablet Nov. 14, according to a report from CNET.

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Apple has begun notifying iPad mini WiFi + Cellular preorder customers that their LTE tablet is "preparing for shipment," with the first models set to wing out to U.S. buyers in five days. The shipping prediction was confirmed in an email to U.S. shoppers Nov. 9, though no specific delivery dates were given. Apple's e-mail says that the company will provide buyers with a tracking number "once your iPad is on the way."

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Apple officially debuted the iPad mini last month and launched the Wi-Fi-only model on Nov. 2. When Apple announced the LTE version of the tablet, the company said the Wi-Fi-only version would ship about two weeks after. From looks of it Apple is sticking with that timetable.

Apple had been vague with customers regarding the LTE version of the tablet, providing scant availability details on the LTE-enabled mini during the product's launch. Putting the device up for pre-order, Apple had initially only offered that the LTE iPad mini would begin shipping by "mid-November."

"Subsequent indications pointed to November 21 being the first date customers could expect to see their tablets, but Apple then removed those estimates," says Slash Gear.

Currently, Apple's online store is still listing a two week shipping estimate for both the WiFi-only and WiFi + Cellular versions of the iPad mini. Outside of the U.S., the wait is likely to be a little longer. In the U.K., the Apple Store lists "late November" for the 4G-enabled mini, while the WiFi model is at two weeks.

The iPad mini WiFi + Cellular is priced from $459 for the 16GB model, with different versions for three carriers in the U.S. The AT&T and Verizon models support LTE connectivity, though not necessarily when roaming outside of the U.S.

(Photo: AppleInsider)
(Photo: AppleInsider)

While many have criticized its screen quality, some reviewers preferring the display quality of Google's Nexus 7, and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, reviews for the iPad mini have been generally favorable, some going so far as to call it the best tablet available in the quickly growing 7-inch market.

According to numerous reports, the 7-inch tablet market is expected to explode in coming years. Even Microsoft is rumored to be currently testing a 7-inch version of its Surface tablet for possible release in 2013.

"It is becoming clear to us that this 7.9" form factor or most 7" inch models will literally become the most important tablet for consumers in the future. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is that it is light, thin, and in the iPad's case, delivers a best in breed tablet experience. Also, these smaller tablets will always be cheaper than larger tablets because the BOM cost for a smaller version will always be less than the bigger models," said TechPinions

LTE

Designing a device that can handle the multiple LTE bands globally is quite a challenge. It's exactly why the "new iPad" is only compatible with AT&T and Verizon LTE networks in the U.S., and Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada.

IDC analyst John Byrne estimated that there are 36 LTE bands globally. Meanwhile, he estimated that there are "only" 22 3G GSM bands around the world.

While LTE is the future, it's still a burgeoning technology. So far, only three countries have significant numbers of LTE customers: the United States, South Korea and Japan. According to IDC, Verizon currently has the largest LTE network in the world and the highest number of LTE subscribers, around nine million at the end of the first quarter.

According to The Wall Street Journal, wireless carriers are eager to drive more customers to those networks, which are more efficient and could spur faster growth in data revenue by making it easier for consumers to use services like streaming video.

LTE technology is much more fragmented than the previous third-generation wireless technology, making it more difficult to make LTE devices that work seamlessly around the world.

iPad price cut

If iPad mini is too small for your tastes, or you're a sucker for "Retina display," consumers can now buy the 3G or 4G iPad for $100 off the full price just by signing a two-year contract with AT&T.

The carrier is selling both new and refurbished versions of the iPad 2 and iPad 3. For example, a new third-gen Wi-Fi + 4G LTE model with 16GB of storage sells for $479, down from the regular price of $579. A refurbished edition of the same model goes for $429. Meanwhile, a new iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G and 64GB of storage will cost you $529.

AT&T is focusing on the older iPads as the iPad Mini and iPad 4 are not available through this offer.

iPad Mini Specs

You can get an iPad Mini Wi-Fi model in three memory configurations: $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. On Nov. 16, we'll see Wi-Fi + 4G models go on sale at $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32GB, and $659 for 64GB.

The 1,024x768-pixel resolution matches that of the iPad 2, but on a 7.9-inch display. "This definitely isn't Retina Display, but it's better-than-iPad-2 display. Videos look excellent, and the IPS screen has great wide-viewing angles," said CNET.

Includes a front-facing 720p-capable FaceTime camera, and a 5-megapixel back camera, and also supports 4G LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi at 5.2Ghz, Bluetooth 4.0, and will use Apple's Lightning connector, first seen on the iPhone 5.

Apple claims that the Mini has a 10-hour battery life.

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